Saturday, July 4, 2009

Buenos Aires: Post-Election Fireworks?

From my doorstep in Oakland, it took a little more than 20 hours to arrive at Buenos Aires’s Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini (pictured here, popularly known as Ezeiza), with changes of planes at Los Angeles and Lima, and another two hours to get through immigration, customs, and a shuttle to my doorstep in Palermo. It’s my first return visit since the new edition of Moon Handbooks Buenos Aires came out in October, and I’m already starting to update, though I’ll do the bulk of the work early next year.

Meanwhile, Buenos Aires looks great in the warm winter sun - though the sun set around 6 p.m., the mild evening required only a light jacket. At the same time, though, there’s an apparent obsession with the H1N1 flu virus that has caused the Universidad de Buenos Aires to suspend classes and many government offices and schools to close up early for winter holidays, which would normally begin in a week or two. At both Lima and Ezeiza, many airport workers and passengers were wearing disposable surgical masks - according to a friend here, their price has shot up from 35 centavos to five pesos in recent days.

According to today’s Buenos Aires Herald, “Argentina has veered from one extreme of not allowing a swine flu epidemic to stand in the way of elections to total alarmism.” In reality, adds the Herald, we don’t know the truth between these extremes, and the result has been “thinning numbers in shopping malls, restaurants, entertainments and even workplaces.”

That doesn’t mean their won’t be anything happening, though, as two independence days take place this week - that of the United States on July 4 (today, with many events for the US expat community), and that of Argentina on July 9 (Thursday). Oddly, as I returned from dinner and headed to bed around 2 a.m. this morning, I briefly stepped out onto the balcony to the sound and sight of fireworks in the nearby Parque Tres de Febrero. An odd occurrence, even for a 24-hour city like Buenos Aires.

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