Buenos Aires weed is not the biggest draw. It’s the vibration of the city itself as expressed in everything there as well as the Buenos Aires weed that has me entranced.
I’m not sure why, but I fantasize about Buenos Aires for many years. I suppose it might be the impact of Evita, which has me know something about it at a younger age than I probably would have otherwise given the poor quality of USAmerican education. Maybe Madonna taught me about Argentina…
Buenos Aires is the first stop I make when I give up my home base for full time travel in early 2016. I’ve been to some 30 countries before this, but never with the intent of hitting them all. I’m still not headed toward that goal at that time, I’m just going to a place I’ve always wanted to go.
It doesn’t disappoint. I fall in love with Buenos Aires and visit more than once. I will continue to go back to it. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.
Argentina is the most intellectual of the Latin American countries. It’s a primarily white country. Early policies led to the slaughter, starvation, and driving out of most of the indigenous and ex-slave population. This was accomplished in part by straight out genocide, which Argentina still excuses as not being so – so much so that their 100 peso bill has a depiction of Roca leading the Conquest of the Desert.
Horrible history aside, today Buenos Aires has a new wave of immigration from other South American countries, as well as Africa, which is causing friction that they have no recent historic precedent for. This stands in contrast to the other countries in Latin America and most of the New World in general, all who have had to learn to deal with racial diversity over the past few hundred years. Some of them, of course, better at it than others. None of them are perfect.
Argentina is much better than most at whitewashing over their history – after all the tango was invented in ex-slave communities. It has African roots.
These are completely ignored in their celebration of Tango as the national Argentinian dance. You rarely see it performed the way it was.
How could you? Argentina rounded all the ex-slaves into neighborhoods with yellow fever in order to kill them while not looking like they were killing them. Or force marched them over the border to neighboring countries. Either way, no matter where you look in Argentinian history and politics you will see cold, murderous brutality. And you will see people celebrating it.
For instance, Buenos Aires has possibly the highest number of equestrian statues I have ever seen anywhere in the world. Mostly of the Libertadors.
It’s perhaps this, mixed with the heavy Italian influence alongside the Spanish influence, that makes Buenos Aires feel almost European to me. Almost. Yes, I consider Europe as defined by white people genociding others. Must be my heritage.
So, starting with all this yucky stuff may make you wonder why it is that I love Buenos Aires?
It’s the energy. The buzzing aliveness of the city. Alongside the intellectualism is a passion too strong to be considered purely Mediterranean. It’s Latin American through and through. This energy and passion runs through Buenos Aires like blood through veins.
This is best displayed to me in small moments. Like when I try to find the grave of Juan Peron and am informed that his body has been moved.
“Because someone snuck into the cemetery, dug up his body, and stole his hands.”
I blink at this, trying to conceive of how the US would react if someone dug up, say Nixon’s body and stole his half-rotted hands. Or maybe they were just bones by then, I don’t know how long decomposition takes…
“Who did that?”
“We don’t know, they were never found. Some say it was in retribution for not making good on promises made to the Mafia. Others say it was jealousy from ex-lovers. Some say it was political. Guess we will never know. But I am sure it was the Mafia.”
This phenomenon, of people having zero idea and yet passionately backing their theory as truth, is straight up Argentina.
Perhaps it comes from saying one thing while doing another, or by doing things in such an intense, focused way that only one’s own desire matters. I don’t know.
I do know that Argentina let in a fair amount of Jewish refugees. And then it also admitted and hid Nazis. And, not-so-handsy-anymore Peron himself laundered over a billion dollars for Nazi-owned corporations. There are Nazi colonies (mostly not anymore) all over Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Chile. It’s estimated some 10,000 Nazi war criminals (out of 150,000 total) escapted to South America. By then, over 150,000 Jews had moved into Argentina alone, coming over to escape the Pogroms in the early 1900’s.
Speaking of Peron – two of his wives (including Evita) died of cervical cancer. They didn’t tell Eva Peron what was wrong with her and also didn’t provide her adequate medical treatment. Hers was a long, painful death. My passionately held theory is that Juan Peron had HPV and gave it to both of his wives, and that that would be a good way to track down which of his ex-lovers might have taken his hands.
Speaking of Jews, the military junta that disappeared countless victims between 1976 to 1983 targeted Jews. 1% of the population was Jewish. 12% of the missing were Jewish.
Speaking of Evita, one of my favorite moments in Buenos Aires unfolds when I hand a twenty peso bill with Eva Peron on it to an elderly, portly museum clerk.
“Do you know who this is?” he asks me, in Spanish. Porteño Spanish is almost impossible for me to understand, but he speaks slowly and clearly.
“Si.” he says solemnly, pulling out a pendant from under his shirt that hangs on a gold chain around his neck. Eva Peron’s image is on it. He kisses it before slipping it back under his shirt.
I spent most of the nights during my first visit to Buenos Aires in Palermo Hollywood, Palermo Chico, Recoleta, and Retiro – but I get everywhere including La Boca and Villa 31. In each corner of the city I find something new. All backed by faded grandeur (Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world in 1913) and modern gentrification.
My first host in Buenos Aires is the only one that doesn’t grow weed.
He teaches me how to make the perfect mate, but Yerba Mate will be covered in another post. The rest of my three hosts in Buenos Aires all grow weed. All of them just a few plants.
It’s not quite legal, but it’s not quite illegal. The law is open to some interpretation, and of course, the various Argentinians I talk to about Buenos Aires weed all have a different opinion about it that they vehemently argue for. It does seem it’s a gray area, and if you have a few plants, nothing will happen to you. How many constitutes “a few” is the big point of contention in Buenos Aires weed. Selling and buying are illegal, but gifting isn’t spelled out.
None of the Buenos Aires weed I have on my first trip to Argentina is anything to write home about. It makes for a good background to exploring the markets, the art, the music, and the dancing of Buenos Aires, alongside some grappa – straight.
Where there are Italians, there is grappa.
I do not get into the so-called national drink of Argentina – Fernet and Coca-Cola. Neither of those things are from Argentina – a strange marriage of Italian and USAmerican culture that somehow together isn’t a bad representation for the specific Latin American yet unique cultural melange that is Argentina.
I also visit the truly bizarre Tierra Santa, a Jerusalem themed amusement park that claims to accept all religions but really they just mean Judaism and Christianity. It feels like a Hollywood set mixed with a museum rather than the Disneyland of religion that I expect. It does have animatronic dioramas of various Biblical scenes and stories.
I love the city so much that I quickly know my way around and know the metro map by heart. Everything I learn there sticks.
Which is of a lot of use during my second trip to Buenos Aires in early 2018, where I forgo the tourist stuff and get deep into the Buenos Aires weed.
One of my hosts has since attended Burning Man with me, grows Buenos Aires weed on his little windowsill in Recoleta. He has had help from one of the best growers in Argentina. By this visit, the weed scene is growing and Medical Cannabis is being considered (it is eventually passed and regulated).
He prepares by having some that he has grown himself as well as some other kinds grown by his friend. It’s very good. There’s an odd mix of meticulousness and carelessness that shows through in the way that it is bred, grown and cured.
The strains all come from California, but they were mostly grown outside on people’s windowsills or terraces in Buenos Aires.
Sometimes with a little help from reflectors, I’m told often with the help of product, but in all the cases I witness, just with good nutrition and intuitive watering.
This mixture of high quality indoor genetics with Southern hemisphere sunshine pleases me, as it results in a clear purity, but not an overwhelming mix of terpenes. The plants get a lot of attention, but the curing is a little rough around the edges.
Again I love this mix, part of the reason Buenos Aires weed and weed around the world in general is interesting is that it’s easy to see the local culture reflected in the flowers. Fermentation and distillation require more precision and so doesn’t reflect as much tradition, it’s more the stories around alcohol that define alcohol. The way that plants are grown has a lot more variety around the world, especially a plant that inspires both creativity and an obsession with growing itself.
Sadly I don’t take any pictures of Buenos Aires weed the finished product, only of plants.
Alcohol isn’t overused as much in Buenos Aires. I rarely see people piss drunk. There’s of course plenty of alcohol use going on, but it’s usually over food (endless plates of grilled meat, you won’t find me writing much about food in Argentina, though I did of course experience a few fine dining restaurants). 10:00pm is a normal dinner time in Buenos Aires and people don’t go out to party or drink until midnight, and then do so all night… usually with more meat involved.
Maybe people also don’t get as trashed because the hours of consumption are usually over a longer period (alcohol is sold 24/7, whereas in most English-speaking countries there are hours of the night where one cannot purchase alcohol). Or maybe it’s just not culturally accepted to get disgusting the way that so many people from English-speaking countries seem to find fun.
This time in Buenos Aires I spend much more time people watching, and by that I mean staring at men.
There are so many men to look at in Buenos Aires. I get into frozen herbal tea in between sips of mate to hydrate and counter the Buenos Aires weed. So I sit at cafe tables on busy intersections enjoying a beverage and the scenery.
The number of men I see sitting around reading a book impresses me. Men don’t sit around reading books in the US, or really in any other city I’ve visited, as much as they do in Buenos Aires. I also enjoy men meeting for a business meeting and kissing one another on each cheek rather than shaking hands. Men standing around sharing mate.
Argentinian men are super hot. Maybe it’s the whole cold, lethal, ruthlessly intellectual brutality thing, or maybe it’s just the accent. Sadly I haven’t tried a Buenos Aires man yet. I was traveling with a partner and the Buenos Aires weed took up too much of my time and attention.
It’s a good thing I’ll be back.
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