For this particular Thanksgiving Day, we will leave the worries of the world at the door and travel themeless, timeless, but not thoughtless. Here are thoughts, sights, sounds, smells, and springtime pleasures from travelers at the Puerto Limon Hostel in Buenos Aires.
The Traveler: The traveler has no safety net. At home the familiar and unchanging serve as a safety net. But the traveler needs to be in the zone, and in the flow. Otherwise he can get lost with no one to help him. He can’t bother with worry or fear. So he allows for everything and can know nothing for sure, trusting that in the end things will be as they need to be.
In the springtime, the mind turns to love, and in Buenos Aires business picks up for the transitorios. Lunfardo, or Buenos Aires slang popular in the neighborhoods where the tango also began, had a special word for where lovers met. One characteristic of lunfardo is that it reverses the order of syllables, so that hotel becomes tel-ho. But in Spanish, the “h” is silent, so telho is pronounced as telo. On the street a telo is lunfardo slang for a transitorio, one of which is directly across the street from Puerto Limon Hostel where I have stayed for the last four months.
So what is a transitorio? It is a place where you can rent rooms by the hour in order to have sex—but it is not a whorehouse. Far from it.
The lodging is provided, but not the partner.
There are a variety of rooms and suites available at different price points, all reasonable, each with a different theme and amenities. You can have Finnish sauna, Scottish showers, Jacuzzis, Roman baths, or your own private garden. Condoms and sex toys are available through convenient trap doors in the walls where such transactions can take place discreetly, without visual contact. There is an interior garage where you can pull your car up right outside your room without being seen by passersby. Cash payments are welcomed and no identification is required.
The midday traffic is mostly folks having extramarital affairs on their lunch break, and the evening traffic is mostly young women who still live at home with their parents, and who need a suitable place to take their boyfriends, lovers, or someone they met bar hopping. Transitorio’s are almost as ubiquitous as the tango itself in Buenos Aires, and carry no social stigma that I am aware of. Everyone simply sees them as providing a necessary social service.
Buenos Aires Spring
Today, I am grateful to be in Buenos Aires in springtime. There are flowers and festivals everywhere, ethnic pride without hostility, and Latin smiles.
Today, I am especially thankful for the perfect peach and the perfect pear I had for lunch. In both cases they had to be picked ripe from their trees not more than a couple days ago.
There is a very fragile window of opportunity with such fruit that lasts only a few hours, the time frame in which they pass from a state of perfect ripeness, fragrance and intensity of flavor to overripeness, mottled color, and mushy texture. Today I hit the sublime sweet spot with both. Such moments have to be savored. A metaphor for life.
Wherever we hail from, whether it is a holiday or not, every day we have reasons to be grateful. What made you smile today?
Thanks for reading and for your comments. They make me smile. And also thank you for subscribing. As most of you know, I dropped Facebook a couple months ago when it was hacked and I kept getting pornography on my timeline. I do not want to lose readers who enjoy this blog and website. So please go to the top or the bottom of this blog page (depending on your reader) and fill in the blank space that says email address, and then click on Subscribe. You will get a confirmation link in your Inbox to click. And then we can stay connected. Thanks again. John Bechtel, international freelance travel and culture writer. from Buenos Aires, Argentina.