26 August 2014

Getting A Taste of 2014 | South America 2013

31 December 2013

We ate leftovers for a light(er) dinner and got ready for New Year's Eve in Buenos Aires. It was my first international New Year's Eve celebration. When I worked in news, we producers would see the various celebrations around the world and try to fit as many as possible into our newscasts. I wondered for a moment if Buenos Aires would make the 2013 feed... because once a news nerd, always a news nerd.

We met John at 11pm near Puente de la Mujer. We easily got a spot up against the railing, because an hour before midnight is apparently really early.

It's tradition in Argentina (and I've since learned in Brazil as well) to wear white to welcome the new year. Obviously I lamented this opportunity to coordinate with thousands of strangers. I promise I won't make the same mistake twice. 

Happy New Year!
Use John's head as a reference point.
The notice the man with the box.
People started showing up and we wondered where the fireworks would begin. We looked for rooftop displays on both sides of the river, but didn't find anything. Then came the man with the box.

He and his crew showed up around 11:30, hopped the railing and started unspooling wires that we assumed were to be used for detonation. As the show literally unraveled before our eyes, my procedural side wondered if this was even being put on by the city. It could just be that Puente de la Mujer is a place where people come and set up their own displays. I mean there didn't seem to be anything discouraging self expression through pyrotechnics, so who's to say?   

Without a countdown display, we didn't know it was midnight until the fireworks started. But once they did, it was amazeballs

Go time!
My favorite Angie picture.

The show was great. There apparently was some coordination - or at least consideration - because after the show from our side of the river, other shows began. It was the perfect welcome to the new year, a simple celebration made extraordinary by circumstance. When all was said and done, we started 2014 happy and hungry. That devolved quickly once we tried to get home.

We were on the wrong side of town. There was a some sort of traffic nightmare between where we were and where we wanted to be. As a result, taxi drivers wanted to charge us ridiculous amounts of money. Honestly, I probably would have paid it, but John wasn't having it. Eventually we walked until we were out of the fray and caught a regular taxi.

Only we couldn't find our way home.

We gave the driver the cross streets. We got to our neighborhood. We passed our place. By now it was close to 2am and we were hangry. There is probably no greater test of new friends than that kind of false patience.

I'm just now realizing that 2014 had a pretty rough start. Once we found our place and dropped off the camera, we still had to find a place to eat. Some places were closed, others were out of food. We stopped at one place where we were told there was nothing but day-old bread. Yes we tried to order it, but the waiter wouldn't serve it to us. He told us it was so hard, we could use it to rob a bank. He sent us to (where else?) Maleva Restobar and promised to give us the bread if they were out of food.

Hysteria was about to take control.

Between finding a table, finding a waiter, arguing over how much food we should get and lamenting that it was after 3am and there had been exactly no dancing, I'm surprised we made it through the meal. We finished with an entire untouched pizza (because of the argument over what to order) and used it to meet new people traveling from Italy and Florian√≥polis. They were lovely. But I wanted to dance!

Ang went home and John & I went to find the party. We found a club (with a cover charge, obviously) that was playing American music. I thought our luck had changed, until we went inside. It was packed to the point that there was no moving, just a steady, sweaty pushing against strangers. John pushed our way to the bar. Then he gave up. He literally handed me cash, yelled "whiskey," and walked to a quiet corner that was on the way to coat check. But the time I made my way through the line, the American songs were over. Still, there was whiskey and some space to wiggle - which is all I ever wanted.

I came across lots of interesting characters. John stayed close, but not too close, as he had his own agenda. Writing "I had a lot of fun" is an understatement. I got to dance. I wasn't groped. The American songs returned and I was happy. John & I agreed it was the perfect time to leave. We walked outside and recoiled like vampires.

Hola 2014!
It was after 7am. The sun had risen and the day had started. I'd had no idea so much time had passed. I was supposed to be back at our place by 7:30, because I needed the security guard to let me into the building. (He leaves after 7:30 and occupants need a key fob. Our key fob was already inside and upstairs with Angie.)

We found a few raging street parties on our walk back home. Each was as baffling to see in full daylight as the next.

I am pleased to report I made it home after 7:30 but before a key fob was necessary. Ang was up worrying, so all was right in the world. I was suddenly exhausted - but content. Life was good.

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