The gate was open, so I went in. Even under a grey sky, the layers of green shimmered before me: jacarandás, poplars, and palms. I walked deeper into the forest on a path of small red stones. Soon the roar of traffic on Avenida Santa Fe was a dull drone. I rarely go to the same place twice while traveling in a new place, but the (free) Carlos Thays Botanical Garden drew me in more than once on my April trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The first time I cut through the garden on my way to an art museum. I was walking fast and my surroundings slowed me down. Sculptures mingled with plants.
I peeked inside a hothouse and saw colorful, textured plants on ledges. Branches like wires were sprung with round buds of bromeliaceae, a family of flowering plants. They could be the template for a new beaded necklace. I unpacked my camera and took photos.
More morning strolls ensued. They were welcome reprieves before starting my daily agenda. I read the novel Red Sparrow under a pergola draped with sky jasmine. I wrote in my journal under a floss silk tree. Sometimes I simply watched the way sunlight moves. I also admired the constellation of tree branches on a cloudy sky.
I needed these "time-outs." I often approach my vacations with the zeal of an event planner. I draft to-do lists based on guidebooks and TripAdvisor reviews. After eight solo trips in nearly four years, you would think that I could let go a little, yet an easygoing instinct is unnatural for me. Luckily, the garden made me stop and pay attention. I focused on the creative pursuits that bring me joy: writing and photography.
Traveling should be about awakening your senses and following your impulses where they lead. Always take pleasure in the moments of immense beauty. Buenos Aires translates to mean "good airs" and one of the best places in the city to enjoy this goodness is at the botanical garden.
6 Facts About Carlos Thays Botanical Garden
- There are nearly 1,500 plant species growing in the garden.
- The garden was designed from 1892 to 1898.
- Its namesake is a French-Argentine landscape architect. Carlos Thays lived in the garden in a pink house that is still there today.
- Many plants in the garden are indigenous to Argentina. For example, the yerba mate in the garden still thrives in the same spot where Thays planted it in 1896. The species of jacarandá mimosifolia trees in the garden is native to the country's mountain jungles. The jacarandá was also designated the "distinctive tree of Buenos Aires" by the city government since 2014.
- The hothouse pictured in this blog post is designed in the art nouveau style and was brought from France in 1897.
- There are 28 artworks in the garden, including a bronze copy of "Saturnalia" by Ernesto Biondi (photo above). The original version of this sculpture is in Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna.
Read more about Carlos Thays Botanical Garden.