“I don’t understand why you’re scared. I mean, it’s Argentina. We’ve been to Argentina so many times!”

True. But… well, first, it’s been a while.

The last time I was in Buenos Aires, the first case of COVID had just been discovered in São Paulo, my sister was recovering from “a virus” in France, and Feng’s parents were recommending staying away from Chinese people (… I know!). It wasn’t yet a pandemic and I was trying to convince myself I was ahead of the virus. I had left São Paulo for Rio and a long week of rain, then I had flown to Buenos Aires where absolutely nobody was talking about this coronavirus thingy. In fact, football fans were celebrating—the atmosphere was grim in Canada, the news terrifying, and I was chatting with Feng on Skype, the loud party outside, metres from my Airbnb.

My week in Buenos Aires was fun, and fairly uneventful. Shit went down seven days later when I flew from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile. It was the end of my trip and apparently the end of the world as well.

It’s now 2024. Vaccination works, lockdowns are over and once again, it’s perfectly acceptable to cross borders for the sake of it.

So I’m going to Argentina. Why not? Buenos Aires is only a three-hour flight from São Paulo and I used to love it. I’m sure I still do—it’s very European but not quite, it feels familiar but it’s not, it’s very different from Brazil.

Maybe this is why I’m scared. I’m used to Brazil and I know Argentina is going to be a culture shock.

In Bombinas, I met an Argentinian who complained Brazil was very self-centred. “The food is Brazilian, the culture is Brazilian, the media are all about Brazil, it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist!”

“This is what I like in Brazil,” I explained. “I just close the door and forget about the rest of the world.”

It’s kind of true that except in São Paulo, Brazilians don’t seem to be very interested in what’s going on outside Brazil. I’m seldom asked where I’m from—like, who cares, really, I’m in Brazil so I must be Brazilian from somewhere in Brazil (possibly a remote place, considering my Portuguese skills…). Brazil is busy enough with Brazilian issues. It’s a huge country, plenty to explore, and no need to go abroad. China is the same.

So yeah, Argentina is going to be a bit of a challenge—I have to switch from Portuguese to Spanish and get used to the Latino way of doing things again.

Also, Argentina isn’t exactly doing great right now. Same old endless economic crisis, a questionable new president who looks like a far-right rock star and general strikes ahead. Should be fun.

The guys left. I spent the night packing, working and avoiding places where we had been together just hours ago.

I set up my alarm. From now on, I’m on my own. Better wake up, better not forget anything.

It’s too much pressure.

But I did wake up and I did get to the airport on time.

And so we took off and once again, I watched São Paulo from above—the city never ends, it only disappears when you’re above the thick layer of fluffy clouds.

Argentina offered a very different landscape—green, empty, and brown rivers.

Now let’s get this country figured out, once again…

São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport
São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport
São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport
São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, take off in São Paulo
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, close to Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, close to Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, close to Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, close to Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires
GOL G3 7684 from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, landing in Buenos Aires

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7 Comments

  1. Julie January 17, 2024 at 6:23 am

    Wow! Quelle chance. Je rêve d’y aller. Réminiscence de cours de tango… musique d’Astor Piazzola… Tu nous diras si le nouveau président semble populaire !

    Reply
    1. Zhu January 18, 2024 at 12:09 am

      À en voir les graffitis, non! C’est grève générale le 24, on verra. Par contre, le pays est dans un sale état…

      Reply
      1. Martin Penwald January 18, 2024 at 10:41 am

        Et c’est pas avec un facho au pouvoir que ça va s’arranger.

        Reply
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