It has been a long, long time, maybe too long to feel familiar with a place I used to call home.
Returning to Buenos Aires after 15 years has left me slightly perplexed: it somehow still looks the same but it does not feel the same anymore. Despite its economic and political difficulties, it has most definately leapt into the 21st century. WIFI is available everywhere and the romantic 1950 post war Southern European vibe that reigned (the Expat) world of the Menem area has turned distinctly international. MacDonalds and Starbucks are overpowering local cafe houses, the best fish in town is now available in Chinatown and the market of San Telmo looks and feels like the one of Montmartre in Paris. Tourists are taken advantage of just like every else in the world.
Don't get me wrong, the Argentineans are still as charming as ever but survival mode has kicked in and though they have not lost their love to communicate with foreigners as their curiosity and forthcomingness remains unique, there is a distinct shift in interests.
I expected to feel more emotional, I was sure I would shed a few tears - and to be honest I did upon my arrival while waiting for my luggage - but other than that it seems our two years we called Buenos Aires home is too far removed to reach.
I have giant flashbacks as I drive or walk past places I forgot existed; how could I not remember the Carrefour I used to shop in every week?!? Obviously was not a priority even back in those days. Buenos Aires Design which used to be the hippest corner of town in our time had completely slipped my mind until I walked passed it sheltering from the pouring rain. I am surprised how little actually has changed in terms of urban construction in the city center as I recognize all our old haunts and familiar commutes.
However, the old beaten up taxis and microbuses have disappeared to be replaced with more modern versions and there parts of town now called Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood which I still need to explore.
I am happy to see that over a decade and a half later the locals still hang out in the parks sharing their Maté tea on a lovely Sunday spring afternoon but I am missing the city's flavour as I realize I cannot link it to the so familiar smell of the city I used to know.