Last Man Standing

A busy day, we had decided to finish the bathroom in one go. After Christmas we will be busy so the main salon and kitchen will be enough of a challenge.
The area outside the bathroom and bedroom we could do as well. It would save me on rollers by doing the two together. Anyway when the ceilings were done and I was just painting the walls, when the phone rang. It was Janis, wanting to talk castillano. It was my own fault I said I needed to practice. Well Philippe talks castillano like a Porteño, I never understand him. Janis talks castillano like an American, this is no bad thing, it means I can actually understand her.
We had quite a long conversation, with the odd break to consult Viv, who actually understood quite a bit as well. Trouble was I needed to cut in (Paint the edges) and for that I needed two hands. So I could no longer hold the phone to my ear. Still it was good while it lasted and we arranged to meet up on Sunday, for pizza and some more castillano.
When we arrived at Fulgor Norma was standing out side having a cigarette. She said that there was no one in there, she was right, and there was no music yet. Ruben started the music for us, but it was lacking somewhat. Gradually more people arrive, but it never got to more than a couple of dozen.
We got Ruben to turn the music up a little, and after a DeAngelis Vals tanda the music did improve. We even, at one point had everyone up dancing.
Several times some younger people arrived and then left. At Ten thirty I thought that the late milonga would not be on, and I was right. The DJ never arrived and by eleven there was only us and Elsa and Bob left. A case of last man standing.
I love this club, but like all the places we go that have an older crowd, I wonder how long can it go on?

Finally a link to another blogger who was at the Gran milonga with Janis and me, enjoy http://www.millenniumdragon.blogspot.com.ar/2014/12/tango-ever-alive-in-buenos-aires.html

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Canning time

We decided that as we are going to be so busy in the new year, then we had best get started on the bathroom now. There is not that much to do, clean, paint the ceiling, and paint the window frame. Trouble is I had to use the paint up while I still had the brush. Have you ever tried cleaning Hammerite out of a brush?
So I actually spent the day painting the balcony rails. They needed doing as the people upstairs are always letting their aircon overflow, and there is nothing quite as corrosive as distilled water.
Still that’s done now and the paint went further than I thought it would. Now though I have to sit without touching anything as I have Smoothrite all over my hands and non of my patent hand cleaner to get it off.
I took some scrubbing but most of the paint is off, so it is Canning time.
We tried going later to the early milonga last week and quite enjoyed it, so this week we thought we would try seperado.
I don’t think the waiter was listening when I said “seperado” because I followed him all around the room after Viv had sat down. It was only when he got back to the bar and realised I was still with him that he found me a seat.
We were not seated in the best spots, Viv was far out in the corner and I was looking at all the ladies backs.
I think we did OK though, I noticed Viv had a barren period, and I missed one or two tandas, but in general they seemed a friendly bunch. I think once we are known there we should be quite successful.

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Marking territory

Another fine sunny day and so we set off to do some errands before the milonga. First job was to get rid of some old clothes, so we headed off towards the ferria Americana on Lavalle. Funny how the mid plays tricks, I thought it was behind the Abasto, but in fact it was a block past.
All my negotiating skills were wasted as Viv found a pair of Havianas outside. We ended up swapping the clothes for a pair of flip flops. Well it was OK in a way havianas are about £20 at home and these clothes had cost only about £10 in a charity shop.
When we got back, we saw we had been caught in a marketing ploy. Not Havianas, but Hawaianas. You have to laugh though.
Our foraging continued, although it is hard to stay focussed when I have to drag Viv out of every clothes and shoe shop. It’s like walking a dog on a street full of lamp posts.
We were hoping to find a couple of pieces for the flat, but we are quite specific and it was not happening today. There is a carpenter around the corner, I may well commission him to make me something later.
On our way down Palestini we came across a crowd of youngsters in various states of undress and covered with paint, obviously having a good time, but we had no idea why. I asked a guy in a shop we stopped at, apparently they had just graduated as doctors.
So we set out to buy a shoe cupboard and extra storage for the wardrobe and came back with a pair of imitation flip flops, some baby oil and face pads. Oh! and some food, which is important. Viv has marked her territory though (If she reads this dog analogy, she may well kill me).

Another evening at Nuevo Chique and we are both now getting more successful. Not many missed tandas for either of us, so we caught our 151 home very tired and hungry. We were not amused when it did nit stop at our apartment and we had to walk back from Cordoba.
Too late and too hungry we decided to visit Guarda la vieja again. Tonight though there was live music in the street and they were queuing outside. There was no chance of us waiting here, I would probably eat Viv before we got any food. So we walked back towards our apartment.
Now it is very unlike us to be in the right place at the right time, but our property purchase has hit the mark. This area is definitely on the up. There are now bars and restaurants all along the road, so we stopped at one on the next block.
We had empanadas and nachos with cheddar. You would expect melted cheddar on the nachos but TIA what we got was a bowl of melted cheese to dip into, a sort of nacho fondue. Plus of course a litre bottle of Quilmes stout for $50. ( I am not going to mention Gratto again honest).

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Hablas castillano?

We (I) have been having quite a bit of trouble with my castillano since we have been here. I think the time away has not helped, but the speed with which they talk and the way they use the language are my biggest problems.
So we have decided to try and enrol in some classes. We were given some recommendations, but as is often the way they led to dead ends. Nothing is permanent here.
So we found a school, not too far away and I made a web enquiry. They said we could come and have a word on Monday morning, so on this sunny day we headed off down to Uruguay on the subte.
We arrived at the orange door and rang the buzzer. We got a tour of the school and a price list. It is one of those places that run residential intensive courses. Obviously we will not be staying with them, but there is a whole list of other activities we can take part in. OK it was expensive, but nowhere near as much as I thought it would be. so we are now enrolled for the beginning of January.

With the demise of Aranque on Mondays we are short of somewhere to go, so today we tried Obalisco. When we arrived there were more men than women, a highly unusual situation here. This is good for Viv as it meant she got plenty of dances. She does find that as the dance gets busier she is less successful, but all the old Aranque crowd were here so that helped considerably.
I danced with one lady who asked if this was my first time here, she was surprised when I told her we had danced in Aranque last year.`
The new parquet floor in Obalisco is considerably better than the old laminate, but it is not well laid and has a few ridges. Well I suppose you can’t have everything.
When we finally left it was back to our faithful collective 151.It is more or less empty at this end so we managed to get a seat as well.

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Bailerines mas famosa

It was a nice sunny day again so we thought we would have our lunch out in Patio Almagro (See http://tangogales.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/good-news/ from last year)
Funny but it was all but deserted on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Just one couple with a child and poodle and a guy sitting playing guitar. It was all quite idyllic.
After a rest it is back to Sunday night at Fulgor.
Tonight we had a new greeting. The miserable old guy who used to try and stop us coming in is no longer here and there is a new, very pleasant lady on the door. She welcomed us with “Los Bailerines mas famosa en el mundo”. Well we have been “Princes of Wales” so why not “The most famous dancers in the world”?
Then begins the usual round of kissing and even a present for Viv. This place is unique, nowhere else do we get this treatment.
A word about the prices as well, two bottles of water and a litre of beer $90. That is $16 less than it cost me in Gratto for two small beers. Is it any wonder we keep coming back?
Roberto is still announcing between tracks, so now not only do we get the title of the orquesta, but also a welcome to Los Galeses.

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Speak slowly I am a foregner

In England if a foreigner does not understand us we talk louder and slower. While this may not always work it can help. Here when a shop assistant mumbles and I don’t get it, they start talking in English. I may well then understand, but it does not help me. I need to get to grips with the accent here and the language.

The girl in Macdonalds was trying to tell her till that the dulche de leche ice cream was on offer and slightly cheaper. When she finally turned to tell me she said it in English. I am going to get a sign and hang it around my neck “Por favour, hablas despacio Y claramente”

It looked a nice day, so we thought for a change we could go down to Plaza San Martin relax eat an ice cream and just read for a bit. Apart from the ever present smell of dog do it was quite pleasant. We never even got accosted by the bird muck sprayers or any other ladrones.

The walk there however was different, all along Florida we were accosted by leather salesmen, tango shows, city tours and cambio. Can’t they see, no somos turistas. I did stop and ask one or two of the cambioistas their rates, “doce quarenta” said one “es una broma” said I. I could get a better rate from the hole in the wall. Another did offer me seventeen, which is a bit more like it, but I don’t need it yet anyway.

Back to San Martin. We decided to go and have a look at the big rubber tree. More than a hundred years old, it could not support some of its branches, so there were steel frames to hold them up. The tree was enclosed in a pen of about ten metres square, but some of it was escaping. The overhanging branches had cleared the footpath and were now in danger of rooting in the grass opposite.

As we walked clear of San Martin, a guy in a uniform, not unlike a hospital uniform, came over to talk. He said he worked here in San Martin and asked where we were from. Then he talked about Rugby, Barioloche, football just about everything. Most of the time I just looked like I understood, but my ear is gradually coming back.

Then came the hard sell (It had to come). He worked for “Campaign of National Struggle against AIDs and drugs”. Well $50 was a small price to pay to help, especially as I had a free Spanish lesson thrown in.

There is a free milonga tonight at Fulgor, free is good, so we are going.
It was supposed to start at ten but at ten past there was not a soul there and the gate was locked. Some guy came past in a car and asked if it was open. I said according to their flyer it should have opened at ten, happy to be practising my Spanish. Just then Ruben arrived to open up “Estas temprano” he said. Again I did not think we were early, but then he asked if we were there for the class.
We sat on our own hoping the situation would change, then a Mel Smith lookalike arrived and set up his computer at the DJ spot. As the music started a couple who we know from Sundays arrived, same question “are you here for the class” same answer ” it said nothing about a class on the flyer” This was an oft repeated scene. If you are starting a new event, it makes sense to tell people exactly what it is going to be.
At about quarter past eleven it became obvious that there were no people for the class, so he just let the music run. That it seems is just what he did, it was an eclectic mix. No tandas, no cortinas and no structure of any kind. We got up for a milonga and he played just one. I did think of offering my DJ services to save the night.
Well at midnight it all changed at midnight. By now the place was filling with a younger crowd, Ruben had taken over DJ duties and we started to enjoy the night.
The guy in the car, by the way, came in and had some food then sat talking to me and the couple on the next table. I have had more Spanish practice in one day than I managed in the whole two weeks since we arrived.

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Its about the dance in the woman, not the woman in the dance

Friday and we are back to Confiteria Ideal. I must say I was surprised to be downstairs, apparently there is a problem with the ventilation. The lady who was telling me about it was upset that they are just taking the money and letting the place fall down. Well TIA (see yesterday).
We did not get the best seats again, but I till managed to find a partner for most tandas. After about an hour Teresa arrived and I had my best dance so far. You see while most men look for the pretty young things, I am only after a good dance. Teresa is over eighty and still the best dance I get. There is simply no substitute for experience.
It was going to be an early night, so we stopped off for a beer at Gratto (Corrientes y Salguero). Big mistake $53 for 330 ml bottle. This is London prices. Even though this is the nearest and most convenient bar for us, I won’t make that mistake again.

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