Three years ago, I was sneaking writing sessions on early Sunday mornings. I would hustle to work at 7am to write at my desk before my first meeting as an eighth grade English teacher. I was writing science fiction and dabbling in fantasy. I was tired but happy, feeling a small victory each time I finished a chapter, as thin and raw as they all were. Fast-forward through a tearful resignation and my first press trips to Le Marche in Italy and the Galapagos Islands, I finally found a place made for writers and artists: Buenos Aires.
Living in San Telmo Buenos Aires
When Neil and I first planned our 2-year trip, I envisioned myself in small cafés on cobbled streets. I imagined tiny espresso cups and sheaths of printed paper. And I conjured all this in Europe, in particular Barcelona. At the time, I’d heard about Buenos Aires, even met some writers online who were based there. In the guidebooks, Argentina’s capital is a mecca of artistic expression and creation. But when I arrived in the tango-famed and youthful neighborhood of San Telmo, I knew this was a simmering cauldron of inspiration.
San Telmo was made for artists. At midnight every night, underground clubs gear up to showcase young and undiscovered musicians. Bands line up for their time in the spotlight. But it’s no open mic, amateur night. These musician have come from around the continent, just to perform in Buenos Aires. They are diverse and talented, wielding violins, cellos, and saxophones. They drink and pass joints and welcome newcomers to the underground scene. Music is a fusion of life, tradition, and hope. It’s beauty and admirable. So for a writer, it is heaven. It is the place to pound away on a keyboard all day, eat dinner at 9pm and still catch the first musicians in a concrete room covered in graffiti.
During the day, Buenos Aires’ San Telmo retains a low key profile. Commuters wait on neat lines for their buses. Bakeries churn out empanadas filled with meat or spinach with cheese. Pizza shops don each corner through the neighbor and it is business as usual, even though half of these residents broke dawn in some of the trendiest tango halls and jazz clubs just that morning.
It’s a writer’s dream, filled with quality wine and insane pasta.
Our Writing Schedule in San Telmo
Neil and I made a pact. We’d three weeks before our friends Tim and Julie would arrive in Buenos Aires. So, we tested the limits of human writing productivity which included massive amounts of brewed coffee and a platoon of homemade meals interspersed with local fruit, yogurt, and veggie snacks. We promised to eat fresh foods bought from small mom & pop shops. We scheduled at least two writing sessions, each no less than six hours long everyday. Then we’d see. It was a marathon of writing, editing, and revision. Neil tackled music videos and content for World Winder while I covered a table in fiction notes.
Breaks were mandatory when channel 43 (WB) played episodes of The Big Bang Theory and dinner happened around 9pm, a little early for other BA porteños.
In the end, Neil finished 3 music videos, 3 photo blogs, managed 2 guest posts, and scribed 8 written posts. I managed to pump out one book review, two blog posts, and 17 preliminary sketches of a fantasy novel called King Solomon’s Rings. I think most of our of drive came from our firm deadline of three weeks. But our supercool apartment rental in artsy San Telmo ignited some creative bursts too. To date, Buenos Aires clocks in a total of 34 days on our nine month travels through South America. Yet it only felt like a few days. Still it beat out Baños, Ecuador- our favorite town thus far. When looking at the amount of time spent here, Buenos Aires is not just a great travel destination but a top choice for expat living.