state-of-the-art, clean private medical clinics partner with the often ancient, crumbling ruins that house the city's mostly-free public health care to offer a dual system that serves the millions of Argentines and extranjeros alike who call Buenos Aires their home.
In San Telmo's Sunday market, the young classical guitarists and dancers of tomorrow work side by side the aging tango singers and other performers who once headlined the city's most notorious dance halls, entertaining the throngs of tourists eager for a glimpse of the romantic city they've read and seen snippets about in travel books and movies.
They (the tourists) search eagerly for mate in styrofoam take-out cups from street vendors while the artisans at whose booths they browse for overpriced gaucho treasures to take home to their unassuming friends share a carefully prepared drink through the bombilla in a special ritual that only the most ardent gringos ever truly come to understand....
I'm off to Retiro to pick up the kids, who are scheduled to arrive from Iguazu this morning at 08:00. I decide to take the train, and am rewarded with a free ride downtown (the ticket scanners for the train--which uses the same pay card system as the subway--rarely work here).
Clumps of police officers stand around, their presence deterring would-criminals, presumably. Dozens of street vendors hawk their wares, screaming enticements to the crowds rushing by. Mostly it's fresh tortillas, homemade cakes and too-sweet cafe-con-leche, but socks and travel packs of tissues are also on offer.
Next to a tortilla stand (a makeshift BBQ perched precariously atop a shopping cart), a dog stretches luxuriously on a foam mattress already abandoned by the human who slept there overnight. Nearby, a not-yet-abandoned mattress still houses a sleepy street human.
They are outnumbered by the street children who walk barefoot through the bus terminal with their mothers or older siblings, searching for scraps of food or strangers with money.
Now begins a waiting game for me. The bus from Iguazu is, as usual, late. I settle in next to some mate drinkers and gaze intently at the screen nearby, scanning the ever-changing arrivals list for the Crucero del Norte bus that will soon bring my babies home from their adventure at the rain forest.
The wait is not unbearable; less than an hour and a half later, the familiar orange and yellow bus pulls into the platform, and two boys are smiling and waving at me from the upper deck. Seconds later, they are in my arms, laughing, hugging, bursting at the seams to tell stories.