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  • The idea I'd formed in my head of Buenos Aires was so far from what it really was, and that took days to reconcile. I didn't want to admit it, but I didn't like the city at first.

    So what? I'd been given the impression it was the Paris of South America, full of chic, beautiful people who swanned around a city full of gorgeous statuary, at a slower, more southerly pace, with frequent stops for wine. Some of that is true. There is great wine. There is gorgeous statuary. Yes, there are beautiful people. But above all, Buenos Aires is a booming, pulsating metropolis, with the human intensity of Times Square if it were magnified across the breadth of Manhattan and then some. Once I'd reconciled that as the place I'd touched down on vacation, the energy was giddy. Buenos Aires is a city pregnant with expectation.

    Some of that energy, to me, stemmed from the fact that Buenos Aires is a city that's been to the brink more than once in not-so-distant memory. It's knowledge that's palpable. Graffiti is one of its signposts, and I don't necessarily mean "good" graffiti--most is the monochrome of pure frustration and the desire to vandalize. But the sheer volume means it's plenty interesting.

    This, just steps from the Plaza de Mayo, within site of the storied Casa Rosada. I learned Pino is a filmmaker-turned-politician who ran for mayor that year. I don't need to know what "PTE" means, or whether "pterodactyl" is a special Porteño idiom. I'm thrilled simply in the knowledge that there are graffitists with lively and esoteric vocabulary who inhabit far corners of the world, and they like dinosaurs.
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