Monday, October 12, 2009

When the City Slows Down

I think I keep coming back to this topic, but I love Sundays in Buenos Aires. They are the quintessentially simple Sunday. There is a fourth of the traffic; my usual hustle and bustle neighborhood is so quiet I can hear my own footsteps on the broken sidewalk. Old men with canes populate sporadic city benches and elderly couples enjoy actual lazy Sunday strolls (at a snail's pace, seriously). The men in the bakery, the one I can't pass without stopping, are especially outgoing on Sunday and don't let anyone leave with just one croissant.

"Something more my dear?" (big smile)

"No, no, I really can't, one croissant is enough."

"Ahhhh, but for you my love, you need at least two!"

"Yeah, you know, you are right. Throw it in the bag."

Cafes are packed with people passing the morning with coffee, croissants, and the massive Sunday paper. Parks are full of lovers, fathers and daughters, picnics and sunbathers. No one rushes. Portenos (the name given to Buenos Aires' inhabitants) are clearly a happy, laid back bunch all the time, but on Sundays they just coast.

Normally, I use Sunday to enjoy an especially long run, but this past one I dedicated the day to sitting in cafes and parks, sipping coffee and eating sweets. I went Porteno. I spent two hours reading the paper with my coffee and cake, then headed to the botanical garden where an abundance of stray cats live. I made a couple of feline friends thanks to a can of tuna, laid in the grass for a bit, moved to a bench to write and did a couple of laps Porteno style. Slow as molasses. Moving on to the next park, I joined rollerbladers, bikers, joggers and popcorn stands on the lanes that outline a park with a small pond, quaint bridge and geese. Later I went to an open-air market I hadn't been to and met up with a friend for a flamenco show.

It was a simple day among a background of grad school applications, internship shopping, and the continuous effort to match ambition with opportunity. I plan on keeping my Sundays in such a sacred style. Enjoying the here and now. That's my form of worship.

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