Surely, there are others who share my preconceived notion of a summer in South America: sweltering afternoons in lush green mountains among tropical flora and fauna. Allow me to clear up these misconceptions.
North Americans generally equate “south” with sun and warmth. One might go south in December for a break from the harsh winter. I went so far south, however, that I almost missed summer altogether. Year round summer cuts off somewhere in the North of Argentina. I wore a jacket and long pants everyday. In fact, colleagues guffawed when I wore capris on a 60 degree day. Exposed skin in the dead of winter? I was truly a foreigner. “I come from the North”, I responded to badgering about my cold bloodedness. My response was a little loco since our Northern frigidness is equivalent Argentina’s Southern glacier region, while our Southern sunny states correlate to their Northern subtropical provinces. On any given day in Argentina, one can encounter subtropical heat to the north, mountainous snow to the west, an ocean breeze to the east, and penguins in the South. In short, I traded my summer vacation for a winter internship.
While I did experience some subtropical wildlife on a weekend trip to the North of Argentina, the majority of my fauna observations consisted of dogs. Fluffy, scruffy, stray, pet, groomed, leather-jacket-sporting, and everything in between. Buenos Aires is home to nearly as many dogs as people, or so it seems. I observed that the dogs in the country seem to have some sort of corgi or dachshund gene pool because all of the smaller dogs appear unnaturally long and stout. Naturally, dog walking is a lucrative business there. While the government caps their charges at eight, I have personally witnessed a group of 13 dogs with leashes hooked to one walker. A dog-filled city seems like a joyful place to live, so what’s the catch? No one seems to care for what their dog produces. On the sidewalk. Right in front of you. While enjoying the doggy view, one must be always on guard for little sidewalk surprises.
Buenos Aires is far from the tropical wonderland I may have initially imagined. After thorough research, I was wardrobe ready for the rather drab, but mild winter. Nonetheless, my new shoes were sorrowfully unprepared for the side effects of a dog-obsessed metropolis.