New Year's in Buenos Aires
I'm walking along the narrow and somewhat bumpy sidewalk, next to the 14 lanes wide Avenida 9 de Julio. Everywhere I look, old, regal stone buildings catch my eye. The sun is shining from a near cloudless sky, causing me to squint. My rucksack feels clammy on my back, and no wonder, since it's 33C outside. It's the last day of the year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
After taking some photos of the city's landmark; the stone obelisk on Plaza de la Republica, we stop for a moment to indulge in some tango practice! The steps have been drawn and numbered on the pavement and judging by the pattern I guess it differs quite a bit from it’s Finnish counterpart, so popular back at home. Tango is an important part of Argentinian culture, so we give it a go, but even after a few practice runs I'm still getting my feet muddled up, because in the Latino version, ladies cross their steps at certain points, instead of the side step used in Finland. There's a stall nearby selling tickets to a tango show tonight, but once we hear the price; a whopping €250 per person, we decide to give it a miss after all.
It's Siesta time and to our astonishment, even the shops on the “Florida” pedestrian zone have closed their doors for five hours starting from noon. We decide to go and enjoy siesta in a nearby park called Plaza San Martin, where huge ombu trees offer their cooling shade, and green painted benches allow our tired feet a well deserved break.
We sit there for a while, going over the events of the bygone year. We have 200 days of travel behind us now and about 30,000km too. Our journey from Europe across Asia has been filled with a range of experiences. We've seen villages hidden in the depths of a jungle, inaccessible to any vehicles, but also experienced some of the world’s biggest metropolises. We have drank yak’s milk in a desert yurt and also enjoyed the services of a skyscraper’s “sky bar “ while watching the view over a mega city. We have had the privilege to peek into many different ways of life, with their own unique traditions and beliefs and visit many places of worship from lots of different religions – from animistic stone piles and totems to the gold plated, decorative temples of the worlds biggest religions. We have met many people along the way and been moved by their stories.
Among those we encountered, were royals and rich businessmen, but also beggars from slums, and some who had lost their loved ones and all they had owned in a tsunami or a mass genocide. We have received tons of hospitality, friendliness, countless greetings and smiles. Our own friends and family have also proven to be worth more than their weight in gold, with all the support they've given us behind the scenes. They have been praying for us and encouraging us along whenever we've needed it. While we're chatting away, our minds are filled with gratitude. Our year has truly been one of a kind! As midnight approaches I stand together with hundreds of locals at Puerto Madero harbour and lean on the hand rail by the water. We will be spending the year ahead almost entirely in South America, a new continent to us both. Once the dark sky lights up in a series of bangs and colours from the huge fireworks display, I look up and into the future filled with hope and anticipation. Welcome 2017!