One of the greatest aspects of study abroad is having the chance to challenge yourself with new opportunities everyday. I make a point to try something new, or go somewhere different everyday. This way, I meet new people, learn more things and experience a part of the culture beyond the monuments and buildings. Most days, I pick a point on my map and explore. It is fascinating to see the city operate behind the scenes.
The city is filled with so many different neighborhoods and barrios filled with different types of people. As I walk from one neighborhood to the next I pass under the detailed architecture of the city and admire the Italian influence on the city. I see the colored buses driving by, stirring up the pigeons in the street. The blocks are separated by little parks where people sit and have mate while their dogs run free. I take a moment to sit and enjoy the landscape before me. Under the coconut trees of Palermo I hear the parakeets chirping loudly. The rollerbladers skate by fast racing with the taxis. As I get into Belgrano I am awed at the massiveness of the embassies that line the streets.
Recently, there have been political demonstrations in the city by public school kids who are protesting the government spending on private institutions. Large crowds of students gather in the streets with their banners waving against the sun. They come in hundreds and are loud with drums and horns. Away from the crowd I can enjoy some of the hidden gems of the city, the art. Most prominently in Palermo Soho as well as Belgrano, the buildings are marked with big colorful paintings.
During the early 1950’s, Argentina went through a depression losing about 70% of its peso value. Juan Peron, who was president at this time was overthrown by a military coup. The state of the country was in a depression as well. In an effort to restore hope to the people, artists were commissioned to paint grand murals all over the city to illuminate the dark situation. Now, the city is covered with these massive masterpieces which still bring a smile to people’s faces when they pass by buildings.
The amazing thing about exploring is that you come across hidden secrets of the city that are beyond wikipedia and travel guides. I love taking the road less traveled to see what I can come across; in this case, Buenos Aires in total is the road less traveled.