South AmericaTravel Writings

To Live and Die in BA:part 1

Updated: Apr 12, 2011 10:50
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December 26, 2006

To Live and Die in BA…part 1

I slid into the center of Buenos Aires at roughly 4am on a Friday, ready to crash out at the hostel that I’d booked while in Cuzco. At the airport I’d met Noah from the Bay Area, who happened to be going to the same place, and the two of us shared a cab to the Millhouse Hostel where we tried to check in. I say “tried” because the guy behind the desk said we couldn’t stay since our reservations were for Friday. Being completely knackered and not having the patience to deal with this shit, I said, “Look man, what time does your computer say it is?”
“4:15am,” he answered.
“Ok, what day does it say it is?”
“Then why can’t we check in and go to sleep?”
“Because your reservation is for Friday.”
“But it’s Friday right now!”
“I know.”
“Then why can’t we check in?”
“Because we’re full.”
“But we have reservations.”
“Yes, but they’re for Friday”
“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me, you just told me it was Friday!”
“I know. But you can’t check in till later.”
This bit went on for awhile before I finally gave up and Noah and I left to wander the streets and attempt to find a hotel. We checked at least ten spots but everything was full because Shakira was playing a concert the next night. We were ready to accept defeat and just go to a 24 hour cafe to get completely bombed, when we finally found a place. By the time I got into bed it was six in the morning and the sun was up. The guy back at the hostel said that to get our Friday reservation, we had to check in between 1pm and 2pm. I wanted to kick him in the teeth.

A hundred something years ago Buenos Aires was one of the most affluent cities in the world. The boom of Argentina’s meat and agricultural industries allowed many portenos, aka residents of BA, to accumulate great wealth and they used this wealth to create a Buenos Aires that looked as much like a European city as possible (there’s supposed to be a squiggly line above of the “n” in “portenos” but my computer doesn’t do it). BA was to be the “Paris of South America” even though much of the city’s population was first or second generation immigrants from Italy and Spain, not France. It’s because of this large scale immigration that almost everyone here looks like white Europeans, which is pretty strange for a country in the heart of South America. Regardless of ancestry or inclination though, the portenos of the late 19th/early 20th centuries created a magnificent city that I was absolutely delighted to explore after I woke up from my much needed sleep.

***Buenos Aires has cool buildings***

I finally checked into the fucking Millhouse Hostel, and that night went to dinner with my friend Nick who was visiting from Brooklyn with five of his friends. They were going home the next day so this would be my only chance to see him. In typical Stuart fashion I bumped into my friend Nish, from, at dinner thus making Buenos Aires yet another on the long list of cities where I’ve run into people I know. I live an awfully strange life.

Dinner was god damn excellent and after eating steak for the second time that day (Argentina is renowned for its meat), I was bloated and wanted to go to sleep. But it was my first night in Buenos fucking Aires and I had to go out and sample the famous nightlife, so I agreed to go out for a few drinks.

Buenos Aires is a very “out” city and because of this it has seen a huge increase in gay tourism in the past few years; so much so that it even has a gay hostel. Since Nick and his friends are gay, we all went to a gay bar after dinner where there was a burlesque show with hot topless women (go figure). The show ended with a dance by a woman who got completely naked but it was a point of contention between us whether or not she was actually born a woman. None of this was new or surprising for me because, well, I live in San Francisco, but the part that blew my mind was that for 14 pesos, it was all you can drink. 14 Argentinean pesos is roughly $4.50 American so you could imagine how excited I was. In normal circumstances I’d get three-sheets-to-the-wind and end up dancing on a table with a couple of Trannies, but since I was so tired and full I called it an early night (at 3:30am) and went back to the hostel.

I wasted nearly an entire week of my life at the Millhouse Hostel. I seriously don’t know what I did with my time. It has a huge common area where people are drinking almost 24 hours a day, so it’s really impossible to lead anything resembling a normal life while you stay there. I met a guy from Dublin there, named Robert, who told me that he hadn’t even intended on coming to Buenos Aires but somehow had spent ten days at Millhouse and hadn’t seen a single site in the city. His schedule was this: wake up at around 2pm, get some food, check his email, shoot the shit with other hostel people, start drinking around 5 or 6pm at the hostel, somewhere fit dinner in, head out to the clubs around 1am, and then around 6am get a “super pancho” (giant hot dog) and go to sleep. That was it. My schedule wasn’t much better except that I tried language school for two days and then walked out on the third because I was too hung over and sleep deprived to sit through 4 hours of school. I never went back. That week was such a waste that I didn’t even take a single photo, so all the photos you see in this blog were taken after I freed myself from that mind-numbing hostel.

***Photos from the amazing Recoleta Cemetary where BA’s rich get buried***

The best thing about Millhouse though was that I purposely met back up with Oliver and Ville, the friends I met in Costa Rica, and we hung out a bunch. Other than that I seriously
spent a week just kicking it at the hostel, going out to bars and clubs, and occasionally walking around. During this time I did decide that I should make a t-shirt with a photo of my liver holding a sign that says, “I hate Buenos Aires.”  If nothing else I think it’ll sell well at the Millhouse hostel.

p.s. The next blog is when Buenos Aires gets really interesting; I promise.

***Wish you were here***

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To Live and Die in BA: part 2

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.