In five days in Buenos Aires, I barely took any pictures.
And certainly no good ones.
Every day I rented a bike.
And cycled through, around and away from the city from breakfast til darkness.
Without a map, sense of direction or destination, I ended up with a random assortment of impressions of Buenos Aires I'm still sorting out.
Cruising through the inner city, you feel like the blind man feeling the elephant.
There are sketchy ghettos, inside of which are beautiful parks, next to which are abandoned colonial villas, in front of which are surly teenagers on ATVs.
The benches on this pond, for example, were occupied by cute couples, sleeping homeless people, enterprising drug dealers and solicitous prostitutes in equal proportion.
How am I supposed to make unjustified conclusions about you, Buenos Aires, if you won't hold still long enough!?
My understanding of Argentinian history is elementary, but it's this: The Spanish came to Argentina down from the river from Peru (!) and set up Buenos Aires as a customs port.
Argentina got its independence in the promiscuous period after the king of Spain abdicated to Napoleon and all of Latin America was like 'let's roll'.
Since then it's been basically nonstop turmoil. Argentina's had more revolutions than an EP.
Argentina got rich and then squandered it enough times that economic disasters have nicknames. A lot of the city looks like a slightly abandoned Paris.
The only interesting thing that happened—the only thing that happened at all, really—was that I got stranded in a monsoon.
I was biking deep in the suburbs when the sky started to close like a clamshell. 'Oh, a little drizzle will be nice after a day's biking,' I thought.
It turned out to be Buenos Aires's worst thunderstorm all year. I biked 12k back home, wetter than a coral reef.
The next morning the city awoke clear and warm, tantrum forgotten.
In a country with so many turns of fortune, this seemed strangely appropriate.