"Lost in Transition," Clare consults her Recoleta Cemetery map to find her way back out of the dizzying maze. Photo by her mom, Mary Nisbet.
Clare was born in Glasgow, Scotland after 21 hours of difficult labor. She has been equally obstinate ever since but is slowly learning to consider it a good quality. At the tender age of 11, Clare's family moved from dreary Glasgow to Santa Barbara, California to pursue life, liberty, and near-constant sunburns. Clare's roots have remained in California where she graduated with a degree in English.
Now, at age 25, she continues to enjoy her wandering feet – letting them take her from the black sands of Molokai'i to the cold cobblestones of London. One day soon she hopes to experience everything in between.
Q: What is the number one reason why everyone should visit BA?
A: Everyone should visit Buenos Aires to see what happens when European façade meets Latin American reality. Buenos Aires is one of the only cities in the world where you can see a cardboard shack leaned up again a centuries-old mansion that looks straight off of the streets of Paris. On the same city block someone will offer you a decadent dinner and tango show while a young child cries out for spare change.
Q: What is your number one tip for foreigners arriving to BA?
A: Once you arrive in Buenos Aires, never leave the house, apartment, hotel, or hostel without 2 pesos in coins and a Guia-‘T’ (the infamous local bus guide/ city map). If you have change, your Guia-‘T’, and a smile, no matter where you end up, you are never really lost.
Q: What is your favorite city bus line and why?
A: My favorite bus line is the 39, affectionately known as the gringo express. Most know it as the bus that connects too-cool Palermo to the downtown financial district, via Avenida Santa Fe's upscale shopping district, where most gringos live and work, respectively. Those in the know however, can use this bus to travel from Chacarita to Barracas for a more authentic experience.
Q: What do you dislike about BA the most?
A: I will never, ever understand the lack of change in this country and will probably continue to dislike it until the day I leave. Unless you are in the best neighborhoods, in the most expensive restaurants, getting change for any bill larger than a $20AR is nearly impossible. Traveling with a $100AR bill is about as good as traveling with no money at all. Life in this city can be very much dominated by one's endless search for monedas (coins) and small change. However, once you realize that you can simply refuse to leave the grocery store until the checker coughs up change for even the smallest of purchases, this problem becomes a little easier and tough city life becomes less intimidating. Oh yeah, and the dog shit.
Q: What is the most amazing or memorable experience you’ve had thus far since arriving in Buenos Aires?
A: Argentina is a huge country and the weather runs the gamut from tropical jungle to a stone's throw from the Antarctic. In Buenos Aires, summer is quickly swept into a grey winter with short days and sporadic bouts of rain. Perhaps the most beautiful time of year is that tiny gap between summer and winter when the days stay long. On these days you can step into the street and though the sun is shining and the sky is clear, the weather has a chill and collars are turned up to the breeze. In the autumn, everything has a fresh sheen feel to it but doesn’t last long before winter sneaks in.
One of my fondest BA memories is riding my bike around in the fall, trying to clear my head of homesickness while simultaneously dodging the relentless barrage of colectivos trying to ram me off the road. During these days it was still possible to have my empanadas and coke in the Plaza de Mayo and stroll, albiet with quickness in my step, through the cobbled streets of historic San Telmo. Fall in Buenos Aires was so short and oh so sweet and remains my favorite (though lamentably brief) experience here.