How to disappear completely and never be found

The title, yes, is another literary reference. The subject, surprisingly, is not.

Usually, when I feel overwhelmed, I take refuge between printed pages. The Song of Ice and Fire series is my current escape (I’m on book three, A Storm of Swords, and going strong). But Thursday morning I awoke knowing words weren’t going to cut it.

If you’ve never spent an extended amount of time in a city, let me summarize: “Beep. BEEP. Honk. Mmmmmmmm ZOOM!” “Screeeeech!” No less noisy are the people. They wander around at all hours telling so-hilarious-I’ll-laugh-like-a-bullhorn-for-ten-straight-minutes stories and shrieking across lanes.

I cracked GOT but still heard Buenos Aires in the background. To the Google! Desperate, I scrolled through the names of more green spaces in Buenos Aires. “Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays” caught my eye — a 9-minute bus ride. The book was tossed unceremoniously into a tote and I was gone.

It was a good choice. Walking through the gate of Carlos Thays, the city melted into oblivion behind me. Traffic and voices faded and I was left with green. And cats. Lots of cats.

I sat on a bench in the sun and the nearest one climbed into my lap, purring. He made himself at home while I scratched his ears. We are friends to this day.

In all seriousness, this Jardín Botánico was a gorgeous and much-needed escape. It opened its leafy, green arms to me as it does, I’m sure, for so many city-sick porteños.

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Random children’s library that looks like a castle. Thursday June 20, 2013.
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Greenhouse. I’ve been obsessed with these since reading “The Night Strangers” by Chris Bohjalian. Thursday June 20, 2013.
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Fairyland. Thursday June 20, 2013.
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My friend, on the bench we shared. Ah, memories. Thursday June 20, 2013.

 

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There were about 87 of these gazing pools, all lovely. Thursday June 20, 2013.

 

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More of Fairyland. Thursday June 20, 2013.
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How to disappear completely and never be found

Sunday in the parks of Recoleta

The rush of traffic. The smoke snaking up from dead cigarettes in the gutter. Car horns. Grimy fingernails. Traffic. People who refuse to wear deodorant (this happens in Argentina more than you’d like to think).

Sometimes the city is overwhelming. Sometimes I miss the green parts — they have a lot of those in Texas. That’s where parks come in.

Somewhere along the line a brilliant person decided to save a few city blocks from the same covered-in-concrete fate as their neighbors. These blocks, where grass and trees and such are apt to grow, make a welcome escape.

Last Sunday I needed to get off the streets for a bit, and my trusty combat boots and I ended up wandering Recoleta, from one green area to the next.

First up was the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Inside was a selection of paintings from all eras, as well as a lovely exhibit on Fernando Botero occupying the second floor. Outside was green and glorious.

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Across the street wasn’t too shabby, either.

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A few blocks down Guido (which I learned is pronounced “gee-dough” and not like a Jersey Shore character) and a turn onto Vicente Lopez meant I stumbled upon a street fair that I definitely wasn’t looking for, but didn’t mind finding.

Cutsey crafts-for-sale abounded, including woven winter accessories, leather goods, handmade jewelry and popcorn-covered candied apples. I thought about springing for the latter, decided against it, and instead strolled from booth to booth while various vendors smiled at me in that I-know-you’re-not-from-around-here way they have.

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Oh yeah, and there were tango dancers, because Argentina.

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Right next to the fair is the Cementerio de la Recoleta, where people like Evita (Eva Perón) are buried. It’s enormous, architecturally beautiful, in some parts deserted, and infested with friendly cats. Needless to say, I loved it.

I’ll spare you the 4721 cat pictures (I did make friends with three and acquaintances with one), but the tombs and obelisks are must-sees. There are rows upon rows of tombs that line miniature tile “streets” to make up a giant, walled necropolis.

I’ve found my reading spot for the next two months. That’s normal, right? Reading Game of Thrones alone in a cemetery?

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There you have it. Here’s to cemetery cats, perfect Sundays and green spaces tucked away in concrete jungles.

Sunday in the parks of Recoleta