Anytime I spend too long a time in Uruguay, I tend to get a bit restless. I LOVE my country, don´t get me wrong, but even when Montevideo is a big city with lost of things to do, Buenos Aires is always calling me with its mermaid song that talks about glamour, great concerts, bustling streets and overwhelming cultural life.
As soon as I get off the ferry that takes you from Montevideo to the modern-building skyline of downtown, I feel different. Montevideo is a city built looking towards the sea; Buenos Aires is more like a cement jungle, and it has only recently started to develop the areas around the coast like Puerto Madero. Being a sea-lover myself, it may sound strange that I have this insane craving for Buenos Aires sometimes, but there are many reasons for it.
A very important one has to do with people. Though Buenos Aires people (called porteños, i.e. “from the port”) have a poor reputation the world over, I appreciate a lot of things about them. People abroad think that the people of Buenos Aires are cocky, that they think they live in the best country in the world, and that they are the best people on the face of the Earth.
While there is some basis in reality for this belief, it is largely a generalization, and the people of Buenos Aires have many admirable qualities. One of them is how close they are to each other, how often friends meet and go out to dinner and make plans, and how passionate they are about the things that they love, be it a band or a soccer team.
When I am in Buenos Aires, I see my friends everyday. This doesn´t only happen on my account. When I am not there, they see each other almost everyday as well. Uruguayans are as close as Argentineans, but they lack the porteños´ drive to leave the house on a short notice.
Perhaps there is almost as much to do in terms of theater, film, music, museums, exhibitions, etc in Montevideo, but those Buenos Aires people just don´t seem to see a point to staying home, unless they have friends coming over.
This time, I came to Buenos Aires to see a concert in tribute to the fantastic Uruguayan musician Beto Satragni, who unfortunately just passed away. The concert brought together some of the greatest living Argentinean musicians. Among them, were two bandoneon (tango accordion) players I had never seen before in my life. One of them was DINO SALUZZI. I was mesmerized by the way he came onstage, produced a crimson red cloth and spread it on his lap, before setting his bandoneon there.
The sound of the bandoneon has a quality that is forever attached to Buenos Aires in the universal imaginarium. Saluzzi played, I have no idea what he was playing, it was just music that embodied all the melancholy of which tango is capable of, and it brought tears to my eyes.
As the tears trickled down my cheeks, I felt a sense of belonging. I realized that I was crying because I was part of Buenos Aires, part of that tango spirit that pervades the city. This too was my home.