There is something to be said about being a tourist in one’s home town. I’m experiencing that myself right now. Sean’s company sent him to Buenos Aires (of all places!) and we’re staying in a hotel in a happening part of town, the barrio of Palermo. We’re within walking distance to loads of really good bars and restaurants and a short cab ride away from great shopping areas.
This week I visited two places for the first time. And so many more I need to explore! I think I kept putting off going to these places when I lived in the city because I thought they’d always be there. They still are, but I’m not. I’m an outsider now. A tourist in my own home.
I’d never been to a mosque before and since the biggest mosque in the whole of Latin America is about a 15 minute walk from the hotel, it would be foolish not to visit it. They organise free guided visits three times a week at noon. I got there in time for the security guard at the door to write down our names and ID numbers. He wouldn’t let a girl through because she didn’t have any kind of ID with her so she asked to talk to the imam and everything was all right. She was a French Muslim who’s in Buenos Aires taking an Anthropology course. We got talking and she said she was desperate to find a place where she could eat halal meat. “I can’t believe I’ve been in the land of the best beef for two months and I haven’t been able to eat any!”
The visit was rather short and uninspiring. Many areas were out of bounds because there is also a school on the premises and they don’t want strangers anywhere near the children, which I can understand. One thing really bothered me, though. I noticed that the Saudi flag was flying high on a mast but not the Argentinean one. When I asked, I was told that they always raise the Saudi flag because the embassy is there too. And what about the Argentinean flag? “It’s usually raised, I don’t know what happened today,” the guide said. Ahem!
El Rosedal de Palermo, the city’s rose garden, is not walled but fenced in. I was on my way to the Sivori Art Museum and this wonderful view caught my eye: endless rows of rose bushes in full bloom. I crossed the bridge over the man-made lake to the most stunning garden. The air smelled sweet and fresh. I thanked the starts I got the chance to see this place at its best.
Where will I go next?