The flight took thirteen hours, which passed faster than I expected. The last time I flew to Buenos Aires, I hardly stood the cramped seats of Alitalia, but the accumulated tiredness, or rather the insufficient sleep, somehow broaden the even smaller seats of AirEuropa and I was able to sleep most of the time.

Buenos Aires greeted me with cloudy and misty, but warm weather. After some waiting my luggage finally appeared at the conveyer and then I took the challenge of entering the city. And because this is not any city, but a megapolis of over 15 million people, the acceptable way to do it seemed to be by bus. Not with that shiny one, which costs 10 dollars and goes directly in the center of the city, but with the city bus, which costs only half a dollar and goes through most of the city.

Yes, going in a big capital and not trying public transport is simply a crime.

To catch a bus in Buenos Aires you have to have coins. You walk through the door, tell the driver where you are going to, he pushes a button on a keypad in front of him, then you put the coins in a machine and the rodeo, excuse me, the journey begins.

Although I spent two days and a half here, I couldn’t understand whether the word “bus stop” means anything in this city. In theory, here and there there are some metal pillars with little bus line numbers, but I was left with the impression that the bus actually stops on every raised hand, which was happening on every 50-100 meters. The bus stops suddenly and the door opens on the go. A day later I found how you get down from the bus – you push a button to signal the driver. This way, the word “bus schedule” seems to lose its meaning and the prospective traveler can do nothing but wait the next bus.

As any other enormous city, Buenos Aires is full of contrasts. One can see quarters of hovels, in which one would not dare to step even in daytime, but one can see lustrous boulevards with palms and skyscrapers as well. In the downtown three different street sizes can be distinguished, most of the streets are one-way. The smallest ones are with two lanes and sidewalks, so narrow that it is even hard for two people to walk past each other. The roads of the next size are the boulevards with 3-4 lanes and broad sidewalks and the third-sized roads are even bigger – once I counted up to 14 lanes. On all of them are flying cars, making enough noise to drown out the noise of a jet engine. In spite of all this, the traffic is not too intense and it allows the pedestrians to use the traffic lights only as rough guidelines, in other words, most people are freely crossing the streets at red light.

The name of my couchsurfing host is Osvaldo, he’s 59 years old and lives on the 21st floor and lives downtown. Almost the whole city can be seen from his balcony. It looks white, but somehow dirty white. Tower blocks and high edifices are all around, but the greenery is missing. I walked thorough the streets all day, but still the only semblance of a park were couple of gardens, which were too puny to be called parks. And they were only in one of the rich quarters.

The two things on the street that probably make the strongest impressions are the great number of bookstores and the round-the-clock stores for sweets and cigarettes. Only on one street you could count more bookstores than you can in whole Sofia.

Osvaldo earns his living by running a small store for trinkets as bracelets, rings, earrings, cheap watches and other like that, of which no one in Bulgaria would even think to sell in any other place but a variety store. I was even more interested when he took some of the stuff from the shop window and covered the rest with canvas and then put wire nets over them and then set security blinds. The crime level is high and this is the way people here are fighting with it. As for Osvaldo, he was surprised to hear that people are leaving their bikes on the streets of Germany without locking them and that in Europe we do not have door-keepers at the residential buildings. When I asked him how far a certain place is from his apartment, he could answer me only in blocks. Most of the city is divided in equal squares and people are used to measuring distance in blocks, not in meters or minutes.

On my second day there, Osvaldo took me to his mother’s house in one of the outlying districts of the city – Tigre. It is like a settlement on the Tigre river, which is somewhere near the delta of the big river Parana. For the citizens of Buenos Aires, Tigre is something like Pancharevo for Sofians. People use the weekend to sneak out of the city, lie down on the artificially sown grass by the muddy and stinky river and to drink mate. And for those, whose flasks are already empty, there are hot water sellers.

Thanks to the visit to Tigre I got the chance to get familiar with the local railway. Let’s start from the rail station. As any self-respected rail station, this one is a gathering point for all kinds of merchants, vagabonds and other scum. If a person is curios enough, he or she could find out that behind the rail station is the beginning of something like a ghetto with all of its peculiarities. And that is only 100-200 meters away from the 15-lane boulevard and the little parks in the rich neighborhoods.

The trains aren’t much prettier than the station. They are broad and quite dirty and inside are mostly poor people. Here it is normal to be seated… On the ground, because no matter how early you go to the rail station, at least couple hundred people are already there waiting.

I and Osvaldo also went to see a production of a small English theatre. The actors were mostly foreigners, who are living in Argentine for many years. The piece was called “No Sex Please, We are British” and though the little chairs were densely arranged, it was interesting enough to deserve the suffering.

At the end, I should not forget to say another thing with which I will remember the city – the large number of homeless people, who were sleeping in the parks in the day and in front of stores and entrances of buildings in the night.

I figured that two days and a half in the madness of Buenos Aires are enough for me and on November, 9th I went to the bus station to catch a bus to a town out of the megapolis and to defy Osvaldo’s statement that in Argentine no one will give me a ride.

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