Cultural Niche

The whole time I’ve been in Buenos Aires, I’ve had an internal debate with myself: Do I actually like living in the big city? After all, growing up in Apple Valley and going to school in Madison, both with populations of less than a quarter million, I obviously faced a bit of “location shock”, coming to the sprawling metropolis of Buenos Aires and its almost 3 million inhabitants.

Through it all, I’ve learned that I still have an affinity for nature. After all, I’ve grown up camping, going to the lake, and I have found the activities I’ve liked best (sailing, running, going to the beach, etc.) involve the outdoors. Maybe growing up in the Midwest, where we cherish our precious three months of “summer” has something to do with it. But likewise, for the places I’ve been lucky enough to travel to, I’ve found that I prefer visiting beautiful natural landscapes to going to a big city. It’s made me think that maybe one day I’d like to live out west, surrounded by mountains I can hike and ski. But I’ll have to do a lot more traveling, exploring and living before I get to that point 🙂

Yet despite my realizations and “plans” for the future, I’ve been surprised to discover a new sense of appreciation I’ve developed for what a large city like Buenos Aires has to offer. Honestly, I’ve never been much of a person attracted to “cultural activities”-art, theater, museums (except for history), poetry, etc. And in Buenos Aires, this has still held true- I don’t find myself frequenting the Teatro Colon or the art galleries of Recoleta (however, I have done both things; I’m not promoting ignorance!)

But what I feel like I have discovered is a “cultural niche” by living in Buenos Aires. For example, one of my new favorite activities has become taking dance classes at La Viruta (tango, salsa, rock) and I aspire to learn folklore, a traditional Argentine dance, after seeing an impressive show in La Catedral (an old, rundown warehouse-type building transformed into a café/bar and tango milonga).

Dance classes at La Catedral
Dance classes at La Catedral

Likewise, I’ve discovered a new appreciation for live music, and have taken my first steps at learning how to play the guitar. Not surprisingly, last week I saw La Bomba de Tiempo (“The Time Bomb”): a live percussion show (and highly recommended to anyone visiting Buenos Aires).  

Part of La Bomba de Tiempo show

In the end, I’ve come to realize, the city may have its downfalls: the traffic, stinky subways, the endless noise from the colectivos…things I may never come to appreciate. But at the same time, Buenos Aires also has a plethora of cultural activities that would be difficult to find anywhere else.  And although a nature-lover like me constantly fought for 10 months to appreciate life in a monstrous metropolis, this persistence and, more importantly, gradual acceptance, allowed me to find my something worthwhile I might not have otherwise discovered: my “cultural niche”.

From your “semi-cultured” traveler,

Jess