As I mentioned in my last post, buses passing beneath our window tend to interrupt my golden slumbers. Last night, my ears caught something far louder and a much more dangerous. I don't know what time this all took place because I forbid Julia from looking at the clock because it would old make matters worse given she has an early wake up call weekday mornings, but let's say it was about 3:00 am. At first, I couldn't tell what was going on. Sure, I could hear lots of people (they sounded like teens) running, yelling, and breaking bottles, but that kind of behavior could signify any number of things: general tomfoolery on a Tuesday night in Buenos Aires, the continuation of any number of protests and demonstrations that take place on a daily basis (such as in the picture to the right), a reaction to early reports that Diego Maradona would become the new manager for Argentina's national squad (proof that the United States is not the only country where former alcoholics and drug addicts are selected to hold prestigious positions), the adverse psychological impact of the global economic crisis, or, and maybe I'm reading too far into this, a wake up call for all expats in the area to remind them to vote in just one week (actually, I was just looking for any reason to insert the hyperlink, check it out, shout out to Dan Kenner).
I quickly ascertained that the commotion outside was due to none of the previously stated reasons. Its duration was too long, its intensity too malicious. I ventured to poke my head outside to see the activity taking place below us, where I was confronted by an all-out battle! The bottles we heard breaking were not being thrown at the street, walls, or even store windows, but rather at each other! It was by no means a melee in the truest sense. In fact, it actually seemed carefully choreographed. One hoard would rush the other, hurling bottles at their opponents only to retreat back from whence it came as their former prey charged at them, all the while screaming profanities, mostly a word that rhymes with "foota".
From what I saw, it never seemed like anyone was in real danger of being struck by a bottle. The respective fronts were at least thirty yards apart and usually sprinting away from their pursuers, so a successful hit would have required a rocket arm. Still, there was an unmistakable raw aggression on display on the street below us, and although we didn't feel personally threatened at the time, it would have been a different story had we arrived home from a night out in the middle this fray. The confrontation didn't last for more than ten minutes, after which both groups scattered into the night.
I feel like I have to give a disclaimer: please, especially the mothers who read our blog, don't be frightened by this story. I don't wish to incite parental second guessing or excessive worry about us being down here. Overall, we've felt very safe here. By no means are we complacent in our behavior, or näive to the fact muggings to take place - we know two people who have been unfortunate enough to be victims. But by and large, we generally feel at ease. That's not to say we don't take taxis in cases when we would have walked in DC, or that we're not careful when we're out and about at night. Just like any other big city, you can't walk around Buenos Aires at night with your head in the clouds, especially in less crowded areas, nor should you do so alone. We know, we are careful, so no need to be any more worried than you already were.
Here is a little something to make sure you finish reading this post with a smile on your face: