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November 24, 2014
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British expats enjoy spending January in BA

By Jayson McNamara
Herald Staff

‘Not bad at all,’ say the otherwise vitamin-A-deprived Britons riding out City’s storm(s)

Those who stayed in Buenos Aires during summer are unlikely to shed a tear for January, with its record-breaking heat waves, power outages, protests and that typical mass exodus of City residents toward the coast that sees the capital become some what of a ghost town.

But that’s not necessarily how Buenos Aires’ thriving community of young British expats see things, with many saying that a balmy Buenos Aires has a lot more going for it than those porteños squeezed tightly on the beaches of the Atlantic coast would have you thinking.

“For me, summer here is great. There are people in the streets listening to music, drinking Quilmes. It’s vibrant,” explained Londoner Becky Hayes, who’s lived in Buenos Aires for more than three years running the photo-tour company, Foto Ruta.

Hayes said she’s spent much of her summer working, alongside her Canadian business partner, taking visitors to some of the lesser-known gems of a City’s they’ve both come to love.

“Summer is a busy period for us. We take people to Villa Crespo, Montserrat, San Telmo,” she said. “It’s about exploring the city — the real city — slowly.”

And slowly they have — temperatures in Buenos Aires this summer have reached record highs, with one day last week hitting a heat index of 47 degrees Celsius.

“I’m not a huge fan of the humidity but I prefer heat waves to it being dark and cold,” Hayes said, confirming when she spoke to the Herald on that hot day last week that she had no power in her apartment. (Meanwhile in her hometown London, minimum temperatures were hovering around the three degrees Celsius- mark.)

Thirty-one year-old Sophie Lloyd from York seemed to agree.

“I’ve lived away from England for nearly nine years now, I still finding myself loving being in a place where there’s blue sky, sunshine and warm weather during the summer,” she told the Herald.

“I also love all the outdoor activities — the pool parties and rooftop asados. There’s always something to do on the weekend. It’s not good for the liver though.”

Lloyd explained that during summer she could be found on her computer with the fan blowing in her face, or busy running her own business, which is also all about the summertime tourist boom.

“I’ve taken a lot of people shopping in the last few months,” she explained of Shop Hop BA, which sees her taking visitors and expats on personalized fashion tours of style-orientated Buenos Aires.

“It’s a beautiful city with a great vibe. The red wine and beautiful people might have something to do with it too,” are just some of the reasons why Buenos Aires continues to lure expats, Lloyd concluded.

History repeats itself

Argentina and its capital have for hundreds of years welcomed Britons of all walks of life in their search for wealth and opportunity. But while migration to Buenos Aires was once centred on economic prospects, today it seems to also have something to do with sentiment.

Thirty-year-old English teacher Martin Ebner from Edinburgh, who also mentioned weather as a major drawing-card, said the City offered expats a blank slate in life, something he discovered after moving here five years ago to be with his then-girlfriend.

“Buenos Aires gives you a great opportunity to start afresh and to be who you want to be,” he said and added that the economic reality for expats wasn’t at all bad either.

“When I moved here, it was very accessible if you earned a foreign salary and it’s becoming like that again,” he explained. “It’s also great not having to deal with some of the restrictions here by the government.”

For his part, Ebner said he’s spent much of his time this summer at the Bosques de Palermo, cycling, or feeling guilty about having electricity in his apartment.

“I wasn’t affected by the power cuts. But all the apartments in front of my block had no electricity. There was a generator on my street for a month,” he said. “I felt quite guilty.”

Architect Sorcha O’Higgins — who moved here eight months ago from London via Mexico and Central America — agreed that the capital was still a hotspot of opportunities for Brits but clarified: “One small point of information: I’m Irish.”

“There are a lot of opportunities here for expats, especially if you compare it to the rat race of London at the moment,” she said, mentioning some of the experiences she’d had since she arrived: translating, helping her friend out in a travel agency, leading street art tours for Graffiti Mundo.

“I had plans to go home at Christmas if I couldn’t handle the heat,” O’Higgins said, before highlighting a trend in the attitudes of some of the City’s otherwise vitamin-A deprived expats: “but summer in BA hasn’t been bad at all.”


@JaysonMcNamara

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