Real Ale?

I had a last-minute invite to go out with some of my old colleagues, not wanting to miss a chance to catch up I did some rearranging and set off to meet them. John was already walking so I jumped on the bus and met him half way.

It turns out Adie has started a brewery and he wanted us to try his new beers. (What has this got to do with Tango? I hear you ask, patience my friends, all will become clear).

Now real ale is a funny thing, it has to be served at just the right time, so in both the pubs we tried, the old guest beers were still on and Adie’s beer was not yet being served. This did not stop us sampling all the beer that was on offer though.

Now many who know me, know I like my beer filtered to death clear and sugar sweet. My taste in beer is enough to drive Real Ale drinkers to mad bouts of lecturing on why I am so wrong in my taste.

It was during one of these bouts that it came to me; Real Ale is just like Tango. Do you like your dancing sanitized? Saccharine sweet and polished? The beer I drink is Strictly Come Dancing and I now see the Real Ale drinkers point. DiSarli and D’Arienzo are the true real  Ales of tango. I now, perhaps will have a more sympathetic ear for those who only know a televised version of Tango, at least I can understand where they are coming from.

I may be a real tango buff, but I still like my beer factory made.

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Like falling off a bike

Or was that just like riding a bike? I can never remember.

We returned to our first sequence dance tonight. I had no trouble remembering the dances. That was the easy bit. The hard part was not kissing everyone. The great British stiffness is always in evidence here. You may shake hands, at a safe distance, of course. You may, if you know them really well, kiss the wives, but kiss a man, and you are going to get into a fight.

So once we started dancing it was just like riding a bike, once you are in the saddle, it all comes naturally. The first dance we ever learned was the Waltz Kathrin, so you would think that would be easy, but that was the only one where I went wrong.

Another thing it was hard to cope with was the fall in numbers. Ewloe has always been an older crowd, but we were shocked at how many have died since we left in November. Bruce had fallen off a ladder and ended up in hospital, I said it was better than falling off his perch, not realising at the time how many had.  Then there was Ron, we missed his 90th birthday, in January, and I still say he does not look a day over 89.

So I say goodbye to some old friends, in no particular order, Derrick, Eric, and Dave.

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On Olympus they are having fun

I imagine all the ancient Greek Gods fighting on Mount Olympus, just like in one of the classic mythological stories, over whether we should ever get home. Enough of this, you will see what I mean as my story unfolds.

Mauricio arrived dead on time and I though that we would introduce him to Sebastian first and get it over with. There was no sign of him downstairs, but as I am standing by the door through to the garage, trying to put back the handle which had come off in my hand, Philippe turned up. It was nice of him to come and say goodbye, but I think he is privately having trouble letting go. He has been here so long and really loved the place.

When we had coffee and Philippe had left we spent some time going over everything in the place. I know we had lots of time, but I still get the feeling we had forgotten something. Still we are always just an email away.

I got some good Spanish practice today. First listening to Mauricio and Sebastian, I do believe they actually understood each other. I always got the feeling that Sebastian was just making funny noises as it sounds nothing like the Spanish I have learned. Anyway they seemed to get along well. I think we have left the place in safe hands.

Next the phone rang “Feench?” actually, to be fair, it was the best rendition of my name I have yet heard here. Turns out our taxi will be late, due to heavy traffic. Then another panic moment, I found my staple gun in my hand baggage. They would never let me on the plane with that. It was too late to re-pack so it just had to be left, I just hope I do not need it at home.It is fortunate we had calculated to allow three hours at the airport.  Another two calls later and the taxi was finally here. We took a very strange route out of the city, but I think we hit less traffic than usual, so the guy obviously knew what he was doing. All the same we were now down to only just over two hours.

I was already stressed, because not only was our time shortened, but we were unsure of the weight of the cases and I had not received a confirmation Email of the flight, as I normally do.

First queue, and it turns out this one was Air France but not our flight. Our queue was further down the hall and much longer. We finally got to the girl who was passing people through to the queue proper, when she asked for my boarding pass. “No tengo” I said. I explained that we do not have a printer here and we always book in at the desk. Well now it appears that Ezeiza has joined the rest of the world in demanding you check in before you check in, just to save time, you understand.

So we then had to find the machines which had arrived since our last journey from here, check in and then re-join the queue, to check in again. We arrived at the very pleasant girl again and she said, we cannot check in until we have paid the overstay fine. No amount of protesting would help. We simply had to drag our cases through three terminals to terminal A where Migraciones is.

We had only one hour now, BP now already at something over 200. At the big glass box I finally managed to get the guys attention. “And you have not left the country in this time?” He asked. He then proceeded to explain to me what I already knew, that we must pay a fine. He told me I must take these papers to the Banco Nacional and pay my fine, then return here with them. Thankfully Viv could stay here with the cases.

I found the Bank easily  enough, but the queue. Then some guy at the back directed my past the big queue which was waiting for the ATM. This helped only a little as there was another queue, but a big security guy directed me to a much smaller queue, as these were all waiting for cambio. At least I was getting closer. Only two people in front of me, but it seemed an age before they called the guy in front of me in. Standing there with nothing I could do about it, I could see the time ticking away. I fancifully though “If I am going to die of a heart attack, now would be the time” I could feel my blood pressure rising. I suspect I would have popped the mercury out of the manometer, if they had tested me now.

Finally I was through. The guy took my money and stamped some papers then just left me there “Listo?” I shouted too him “Si listo” he said. Now for the 200 meter dash back to migraciones, dodging the crowds on my way. Finally we had our fine paid and could go, but now we had to run back to terminal E.

Viv shot off ahead, but every time I started running my computer rucksack fell off my shoulders. We got back to our queue with only minutes to spare. The guy there said “just relax now, you are OK”. So we passed him and got into the queue proper. Finally passed the yellow line and the conveyors had stopped. The check in girl would not let me put my case on the scale. Frustrated I left her with our passports and took my case to one of the empty check ins. Disaster 24.5 kilos. So I had to hastily take some stuff from my case and put it in Vivs. Then weigh both cases again. Both now 22.5, just in. The only problem was we had decided to bring a few bottles of wine with us and these, carefully stowed, were now transferred and in a much less safe position in Vivs case, which also had her new dress. If anything happened to those bottles, her dress would be ruined and my life would be hell for maybe years to come.

After three false starts the belts finally took our cases away. Then the girl said we must present our fines and passports to immigration on the way out. I had a bad feeling about this. Just about everything we had been told, or read, about the overstay fee, had so far been wrong. In the end it was not bad just an extra couple of minutes at passport control. We stood there and watched after one after another were called to booth number 5. “He’s good this number 5 ” said Viv. Luck finally on our side? we were called to booth 5.

It did not end there though. Viv presented her passport and fine, scanned her eye three times before it was right, then the fingerprint machine started playing up. After four attempts she was through. I moved to the counter and he shouted to Viv “Passport”. Viv did not understand, and I said he wants your passport again. Seems it had not worked and she had to go through the whole rigmarole again. Then it was my turn, we thought it would never end as his machine again and again failed to register us.

We needed a drink by the time we finally arrived in the departure lounge, and I just needed to relax a little. As usual they started queuing the minute anyone appeared at the desk. We had our seat now so we just let them get on with it. They called our rows first so we then had to fight our way through the loonie’s who though they would get there quicker, but we were finally on.

Too hyped up, I can never sleep on a plane anyway. I just watched five films, taking full advantage of my Ebay noise reducing earphones.

The flight went well apart from the breakfast, which they always seem to leave until too late. They were getting ready for landing and we still had not had our coffee. I grabbed a steward and we got a coffee, but no milk. After sever attempts I gave up and had to drink Viv’s as well as mine, to save it spilling.

Big wusses we are. The stewardess came and asked if we had enjoyed the flight, apparently they had noticed how often we use Air France. “Oh yes, no problems” we said. Should have mentioned the coffee, but that moment is gone.

At Paris De Gaulle  we quickly found our gate but stopped for a coffee on the way. I could not get my phone to boot up, it kept telling me “No sim” so I tried Vivs, I needed to tell our taxi that we were on time and not delayed by the strikes in Buenos Aires. Viv’s phone was dead, no charge. I was tempted to have a go, after all I had told her to charge it before we left, but the state we were in it would have blown up into nuclear war. (See I am learning something as I get older)

Still I was not in the best of moods, and she could tell. After a rant about Orange, I managed to get my phone working and a message to Andy Taxis. (Do I get advertising revenue, for the cheap plug Andy?)

So we sat ourselves down at gate 32K as directed, but the sign said “Moscow” Must have been an earlier flight because there was also a sign that said “Manchester”. The 12:30 loading time passed and there was no sign of them loading and no one at the gate. Then the announcements for “Moscow” started. I had a bad feeling about this. The people checking them through were right out of our reach, I desperately looked for someone to ask.

Finally there was a girl in the next compound on a phone. I shouted to get her attention. “Your flight was moved to 37K” she said “and it is closed” We ran Up. The girl there said “we are closed you will have to get the next flight” I argued with her but she just kept saying that they had made an announcement. I had been disturbed from my book, every few minutes to listen for the announcements, but had never heard them. The plane was still there with the doors open, and the luggage bays were closed, so I kept at her, knowing they will not fly with my luggage on the plane, in case I had wanted to blow it up. There was another guy there who meanwhile was on the phone, I watched him, thinking this had something to do with us. Just then my phone went off. I checked it and Viv said “What is that now?” “A message from Air France, telling me that the gate has been changed” I said giving the girl a look. The guy put the phone down and opened the gate, “You are Ok” He said. “Thank you said I”

We rushed onto the plane and took our seats. Then they made an announcement that they were just waiting for two more passengers before they could take off. I asked the steward if it was us, as we had rushed onto the plane and were not sure they had registered us. It appeared not. Then not two, but four English speakers arrived on the plane, the two that were sat in front of us said that they had been stuck at 32K and never heard an announcement. I now have my suspicions that they only announced it in French, because that would have been meaningless to me and possibly these four as well.

Fortunately Andy’s wife was efficient, (Andy’s Taxis) as always and we were whisked off home in luxury.

Mary had been in and left us some provisions in the kitchen. This was more than fortunate, Viv had ordered shopping on-line for tonight, but with worries about the strike, she had changed the day to Friday. Not only provisions but she also gave us a meal, we were expecting to have to eat at the Red Lion tonight. Thanks Mary.

The house has survived well on its own all this time, and the conservatory was radiating heat into the house, so it was not as cold as I had suspected.

After so many hours without sleep I was off for an early night. Just one other problem, I had to cancel my Storage contract as it needs a weeks notice, but all my phones were dead.  Another reason I wanted a phone without batteries in Argentina, but Mary came to my rescue yet again.


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A Wonderful last night

The complete absence of the noisy colectivos meant we had a good nights sleep, but then we did not get up until after midday. Another day gone but at least we are well rested.

We walked towards Corrientes, but as we got to Humahuaca we saw a taxi and it was free, so we hailed it and jumped in. He chose a strange route (to my thinking) but it was no less direct than I would have gone. The difference was we encountered no traffic. We had allowed plenty of time, so now we were early. We arrived at ten past four and it only cost me $40 or about £2.

There were few there, but it did mean I had less problems with the cabeceo. Viv meanwhile danced every tanda. We had a really good night. There was only one blight on it for me, non of my favourite ladies arrived, so I got no chance to say goodbye to Graciela.

The last tanda we did Viv was dancing with Jong and I was dancing with an Italian lady.  Jong stopped me in between tunes to say I should be dancing the last tanda with Viv. It is not as if we will not be dancing together again but he seemed quite put out that we were not dancing together. The Italian lady with me said “Is he a little drunk” as I led her off the floor after our dance I said “Can I give you a little advice?” trying my best to sound very earnest. Then I said “Never go to a Korean Doctor”

Well, it may have been quiet but we enjoyed it and I think those who thought it would be closed did us a favour by keeping the numbers down. Shame about the missing ladies, but I will see them next year.

After saying goodbye to Marcela and Dany we walked off toward Callao. At Callao and Corrientes we stopped off at La Opera for our last meal here. Somehow it did not live up to what I had expected. (What did I Expect? I really do not know). Still we left satisfied and full of cerveza negra.

We cheated again and walked to Tucuman, there we found a taxi straight away that took us almost to our door, for another £2.

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The milonga suit gets aired

There is a general strike tomorrow and I am still unsure how it will affect us. Viv has had to change her shopping order for when we return, just in case we are delayed. I have also had to warn my airport taxi that I may not be on the flight from Paris. I am just hoping that the chaos has cleared by Wednesday when we fly.

I finally dug out my milonga suit as this may be our despidida. We plan on going to Chique tomorrow, but who knows who will be there? Meanwhile we are off to Obalisco. The subte is running normally today thankfully as we take three trains. Funny how every station we arrive in the train has just left. We are later today anyway as Viv wanted to wash the towels, so we did not get the best seats.

Viv never missed a tanda which made me happy, but you should have seen the faces of the women when they saw my suit. I felt like telling them it’s only a washable business suit, but they just loved it. One lady I danced with said “bailando con un novio” I told her if it was a wedding suit I would have had a flower. Still it was nice to be appreciated.

The little lady on the next table had her birthday, so I was up in a flash for her birthday dance. How different to all those years ago when Gloria had to almost force me up. Just to make things even better there was cake for everyone as well. Well everyone except Viv, somehow she had been missed.  I searched and found a spare piece on Graciela’s table and took it to Viv. Next tanda Jong also brought her a piece. That’s what you get for complaining. Two pieces of cake.

Viv drew my ticket out for the sorteo. They have one here where people buy tickets and all the money goes in to the prize. There were less people here today but I still got $240, covered my entrada, drinks and some.

When we left we said goodbye to Gabriela and her daughter and promised to return next year. We left them with my email and facebook, but Gabriela is already on my friends list, so I don’t expect too much.

Now for that no90 colectivo and hop off at Corrientes for some Ice-cream for an after dinner treat.

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Not a dry Eye in the house.

Unusually I did not check the map before we left. We were going to Kym’s for asado and he said he overlooked 1863. No problem, just halfway to Fulgor. As soon as we crossed Estado de Israel I realised that there was a problem, the numbers here were in the 600s Kym’s address was 1971. Even when we started walking towards 1863 I realised we were going the wrong way. It was in the opposite direction by quite some way.

It had taken us three-quarters of an hour to reach Julien Alverez and Cordoba, a journey of normally ten minutes. It was here, that it finally dawned on us, Kym overlooked 1810, not 1863. An easy mistake to make, but it had cost us a good long walk and demonstrates the lunacy of naming everything after dates.

When we arrived there were 9 floors, four flats to a floor. It was a good job I had my phone with me. I texted him and after a short while he appeared. He said as he was on the roof so there was little point in ringing the flat.

He had done a sterling job with the food, sorry though I think that the argies do it better. Viv prepared a salad and the Dutch guy Boris cleaned the pool, Kym cooked the meat, that left me with the important job of drinking the beer and trying to converse with the two Argentines. When we had enough food we all sat around with our feet in the pool cooling off.

There were some girls on a balcony that we could see and the guys were all enjoying waving to them. Viv decided that we (she) would be cramping their style so we decided it was time to leave.

After all that wine and beer I needed a sleep, only an hour but it set me up well for the night.

The walk to Fulgor seemed longer tonight. Was it because we had dine it once today? or was it because it would be our last time?

The music was in full swing when we arrived, and the welcome kisses seemed somehow more loving tonight. As is our way, when it is our last visit we danced everything, even the cumbia. I think we impressed some of the locals with our Cha Cha especially Viv’s fast turn, I don’t think they had seen anything like it.

They had two sorteos, there was a range of presents from Roberto, and Viv got a studded pin which she says will go great with her scarf here. When it was presented Ruben announced that it was our last visit this year and that we were going home to Gales. He also made some remarks about us being fanatics and among their best customers. Then they had a second sorteo and we got a free beer. Mariana also brought us a champagne each. I was having trouble standing by the time we left.

People left in dribs after about ten, so I did not have the emotional strain of saying goodbye to everyone at once. When it was time to go though, I still found it a strain. I made a point of telling Ruben we missed Roberto and everyone said that they would miss us. I guess there was not a dry eye in the house.

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Our Last Saturday

I got up late again, but Viv was fast asleep. I decided it was best to let her lie, but she did not thank me when she finally got up. Just shows, you can never win.

We trailed off to El Arranque for our final visit. A good job I am seeing many of the ladies again at Obalisco and Chique, or the emotion would have been too much. Again there was a different crowd there, all these weekends off bring in the punters.

It was hard at times to see any of the ladies I wanted to cabeceo, but usually after a few had got up I got my chance. At the end of the evening I got to thank Erwin and the guy on the till. (still don’t Know his name) I said goodbye to Horacio (the waiter) and that was it no more El Arranque for another year.

We finally got to try the Chinese on Corrientes, sort of a leaving treat. The food was excellent, but the service was abysmal. We got spring rolls and no plates to eat them off. The sauce was late so that we had started before we got it.

We had a plate of noodles and a plate of spicy chicken, again no plates, so I had to ask. We also got no serving spoons and the pan chino was different again, this time it was steamed, we got a huge plateful though.

At just after ten the subte was shut. I am sure it used to run until ten thirty. Perhaps they misunderstood the petition to keep it open later. Ah well after all that food, a walk is just the medicine.

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