Travel from Denver to Buenos Aires, Argentina (via Toronto and Santiago, Chile) went smoothly, with the only challenging leg being the final one via taxi from the airport to my hostel which took close to 2 hours due to congestion caused by traffic accidents.
During the long, slow drive I was excited to see wonderful bicycle conditions including many protected bike lanes and even bike-specific traffic signals. When the little dude on the bicycle is green, that means go.
Alas, my joy of a bicycle paradise was short-lived upon realizing that Argentina suffers from the same struggles as the United States -- motorists enjoy parking their automobiles in the "dedicated" bike lanes. Perhaps we are not so different after all.
The hostel I'm staying at is quite nice and I have a private room w/ simple breakfast for about $16/night. I'll stay here for a month while I'm taking 20 hours of Spanish language lessons each week. My room measures 7' x 11' so, yes, it is slightly smaller than a sheet of writing paper. But it's bigger than my camper van so it feels palatial to me. Not pictured to the viewers left is a little wardrobe where my clothes are hanging.
So far I've yet to meet another native English speaker. It turns out many of the visitors here are from other South American nations like Brazil and Ecuador, but I did chat in English last night with a couple nice German frauleins.
Take a Walk
Yesterday I went for a walk to check out the surrounding neighborhoods. If you look at a map Buenos Aires is situated on a small inlet of the Atlantic Ocean and just across the bay is Uruguay. There's an ecological preserve along the ocean a short walk east of my hostel so I headed there to enjoy the lovely weather -- 70s and sunny every day so far.
It turns out that Buenos Aires kind of turns its back to the ocean because the shoreline is actually quite marshy. The seashore has always been more utilitarian and a port was developed in the 19th century to service ships. But the original port was decommissioned over 100 years ago and moved down the coast. In the last 20 or 30 years some infill was added to allow for the new condominiums that you see here. This photo was taken from the eco preserve looking back across the marsh toward those flashy new condos on the edge of the city.
This flower struck me as being particularly pretty. Wouldn't you agree? It's springtime here now and this flower is on a tree and appears to have been the first one to bloom. Hopefully the tree will be full of them soon.
About a mile into the eco walk I got to the beach. It's a little rocky and actually many of those rocks you see are worn chunks of concrete (some with visibly jutting re-bar) that once made up the port here. Many people were hanging out and there are a number of benches under lovely trees, but it's not exactly a beach for surfing and sunbathing.
That's it for now. Tomorrow I begin my Spanish lessons and I'm excited to get started and meet the other 5 or 6 people in my class.