Him: ‘A donde?’
Me: ‘893 Bolivar, en San Telmo, esta a la esquina de Estados Unidos Y Bolivar.’
I first arrived at the ‘house’ last January, on the 24th, I remember because it was Angela’s birthday and I desperately needed Wifi so I could write to her and the Wifi at the house was down (an exceptional occurrence I thought at the time). I got to my room after a three-hour ferry crossing, I was of course nauseous, it was 43 degrees outside with 200% humidity, and all I wanted was a shower and a bed in a nice cool room. I arrived and my room wasn’t quite ready, ‘the cleaning lady will do your room next’ I was told. I cleaning lady was having her coffee, then she went upstairs, then she cleaned the showers and one hour later my room. I got in, undressed, took a shower, there was almost no water pressure, but it didn’t matter, I wanted to turn on the air, lie down and sleep…. The air-conditioning didn’t work and the windows despite letting all the street noise in, did not open.
The house is an old, broken down colonial house in the heart of BA’s most charming neighbourhood, it is an Argentine ‘Auberge Espagnole’ where 7 people who had nothing in common shared a life. There was Ralf from Germany here to learn Spanish, Sylvain and Julie from Paris, working a fashion exchange project, Carolina from Uruguay doing her masters and Juan and Maria who ‘manage’ the unmanageable house, and me, me who has never really lived with anyone and never really wanted to.
The owners of the house are on a three-year mediation, soul searching, enlightenment journey in India…….Yes I am living in a hippie house, a hippie house filled with dusty statues of Ganesh and fat Boudhas, a hippie house with a meditation room the size of the apartment in Brussels where every week you hear people chanting Mantras and dancing to let their inner goddess out, a hippie house that somehow made a very structured engineer stay for three months when she had planned on staying 7 days and it made her come back, a house that fucked up her entire life really.
My first night, I went up to terrace that overlooked San Telmo where I could smell the empanadas being cooked, I could hear the clinging of wine glasses and I could, in the distance, hear the infamous ‘Padram Pam Pam’ of a milonga playing and just like Tristan and Isolde, I fell desperately in love.
Now I’m coming back, but the German, the Frenchies, the Uruguayan are gone, would the house still be the house?
Him: ‘Ciao, I am Emanuele ow are you?”
Me: (great and Italian in the house), Hola, I’m Andreea, you’re living in Ralf’s room? Can I call you Ralf?’
Him: ‘Um, que?’
No, no I have to start again, like starting a new book by the same author, it has familiarities but it’s a different story but it’s ok, the house would take care of me, it would make it easier for me to be here.
The house is somewhat like a life partner, most of the time it knows what you need even if you're not sure at that moment that it's right, it knows for you. At times I open the downstairs door, trying to leave the street noise, heat and chaos of the outside world behind me to come into my own secret garden and I hope to find peace and solitude, and it just so happens that at that moment everyone is out. Other times, I come home lonely and hungry and I walk upstairs to find everyone sitting around the table with a big bowl of pasta and one (or a few) open bottles of Malbec on the table. Sometimes I wake up to the smell of fresh coffee which just hits the spot, the house listens to you and knows what you need even more than you do sometimes. It knows when you’re feeling down and you think you want to be alone, it knows you need company so that your mind doesn’t torment you…..
Other times the air-conditioning doesn’t work and it’s the hottest day of the year and there’s a big construction truck right under your window, sometimes you want to call your mom and the Wifi is down, sometimes you want a shower but there’s no hot water, sometimes your food disappears from the fridge….. those times the house teaches you the importance of patience and gives access to a meditation room.
The stairway to 'heaven'
Our house in the middle of our street
The house's only permanent residents