Ever since I took up cross country in high school and continued competing with the club team at Georgetown, I have wholeheartedly embraced the life motto: “Why walk when you can run?”.
Perhaps that is why one of the greatest obstacles I have had to face in normalizing my daily routine while abroad these past six weeks, as a dedicated corredora, was figuring out the best running routes. As I began to venture out into BA in search of some scenic streets, I soon discovered that running is the most enjoyable (and endorphin-inducing) way to explore the sights—and character—of a new city.
Sunday morning has quickly become my preferred time to go on longer runs because the typically bustling streets are pleasantly uncrowded and sedate: the majority of shops, restaurants, and cafés are closed for a much-needed day of rest. This makes it easier to weave through the traffic from my house, located in the commercial center, northward towards the Recoleta cemetery (fun fact: this is where Argentine icon Evita is buried).
Contrary to what one might expect, the cemetery is anything but morbid; in fact, on the weekends the mood is quite festive. Saturday and Sunday mornings, a feria, or fair, is set up around the perimeter with vendors selling a plethora of colorful artwork, beautiful leather shoes, and of course, the delicious grilled meats for which Argentina is renowned.
In my attempts to avoid the tempting smells, I join the throngs of sporty porteños running—and rollerblading, which is apparently a very popular form of exercise here—down Avenida del Libertador, one of the major boulevards that cuts through the city.
People of all ages are sprawled out on the grass on both sides of the street, soaking up the springtime sun and sipping mate (the Argentine beverage of choice), enjoying the last lazy hours of the weekend together. This scene is indicative of something my host mother Gabe once told me: to the porteños, there is nothing more valuable than the company of family and friends.
As I make my way past the Bosques de Palermo, which is a series of luscious green parks and plazas, a collection of vibrant and politically-charged graffiti on the side of an overpass catches my eye. (My favorite, written in English, interestingly enough, says “Ladies on Top”—which always inspires me to pick up the pace just a tiny bit more as I run past.)
The artwork, as raw as it is beautiful, certainly conveys powerful and thought-provoking messages to passersby. From criticism of past wars to reminders of the negative impacts of imperialism, the sentiments mirror those of the student-made posters hanging in the hallways of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) where I am taking my direct enrollment classes.
As I reach the five-mile mark to make the reverse trip back down Libertador, part of me wants to keep on running: there are always copious new routes to be run, neighborhoods to be explored, and city quirks to be discovered. While I know that I will not be able to fully appreciate everything that BA has to offer in five short months, I take comfort in the fact that I still have plenty of miles to go to try and take it all in.