Like the Beatles but higher.

The porteños are worse than the British for complaining about the weather. Two days ago it was “Hace calor” Yesterday it was “Hace frio” today “Es lluvia” I have never heard “Hoy es perfecto” with regards to the weather.

It looks like rain outside, so I checked the forecast, no rain until nine tonight, so we went out without umbrellas.

Foolishly it seems, we got halfway along Corrientes and the rain started. It was never too heavy though we did shelter in a doorway for a while. We had decided to check out Parque Centenario on a Sunday for a change. A bit of rain and everyone was panicking to get their stock away or covered. Some had decided to shut up shop for the day.

The guitar man was there again and we had a long chat. He has another version of my guitar now, in Pink, which Viv liked. He enjoyed the video I sent him of Ralf McTell, but did not understand the lyrics. He did not realise we had homeless people in the UK, the same as here, but maybe not as bad. I have now got myself another job, translating the lyrics of “Streets of London” for him.

We wandered around and Viv got herself some marker pens. Then I found a phone extension, which sort of removed the need for my long phone lead that still does not work.

We wandered around some more still looking for a phone, but not expecting to find what I want. Then I saw a book of Beatles songs. The complete works, with music and in almost pristine condition.

I walked away, but Viv knew I wanted it. It was $250 about £12 a lot for a book here. If I ever came to sell it I would probably get three times as much for it, just for its rarity value and Music books here are normally about $50 with just a few tunes in them. This one had the complete works of the Beatles, I have not counted them all but I estimate just under 200 songs that is $1.5 per tune or 1s and 6d in real money. (If you can remember that far back). So back I went and bought it.

It is a bit hard to get my voice in tune with my guitar being in a higher key, but it is fun trying.

We totally failed to get any steak for tea. My own fault for leaving it until Sunday, but when I asked at the chino what time was the carneceria open, they did say five. By six there was no sign of the butcher and no other local chino had one. So it was sliced ham for tea.

Fulgor again tonight, I hope that the rain stays off long enough for us to walk there. We took the umbrellas tonight, and it worked, the rain stayed off.

A real good night again, we even got up for the cumbia. There was a new couple there from Canada, I did not find out how long they are staying, but it will be nice to see them here again. I think we impressed them with our chacarera, they looked like they had not seen it before.

So we arrived home thoroughly exhausted, ready for a good nights sleep. Before I slept though, I sent the guitar man “The Streets Of London” lyrics and translation. I just hope he does not think I am stalking him.

 

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Bye bye Maria

Sebastian was out cleaning the pavements this morning, so I went down to speak with him. I asked about the common room, which appears to be locked. He just told me to put my shoulder to it, so I tried and it opened. I felt such an idiot, but then it has been some time since we went in there. I had been worried that someone was trying to take it over and decided to lock it.

Philippe paid a visit, he wanted to show me how to change the password on the WiFi but my computer will not connect. I suspect that this is something to do with the problems we have been having with the net. He is going to try again with his computer, time alone will tell.

More shopping to do, Viv wanted to visit her favourite verduria for some lettuce and other stuff. all necessary but boring. I went to the fereteria and got a new phone cable, as the old one is too short. When we got back the end fell off. I took it back and they crimped it back on. When I got back this time, it just would not connect with the internet, the old cable meanwhile worked. We returned to the shop to find that Saturday lunch time, they shut for the day.

We went to Narañgo y Flor and had a Jugo and some torta manzana.  There is nothing like sitting outside a café watching the world go by with the sun on your face, to take away that feeling that you would like to kill someone.

Off to El Arranque  again, but today the subte is running again. It still is not running Sunday, but Saturday it is. It is so hard to keep up.

We were early for a change and there were few people there. This meant that I danced with a few women I have not danced with before. As usual, some were good some were bad, but we always left the floor with a “Gracias”.

It was Maria’s despedida, she leaves for Sweden tomorrow. So she had an extra dance and we had a glass of Champagne. It is sad to see her go, that is one less lady to give me present’s. ( I am not really that shallow, I loved dancing with her, and the Spanish practice was good.)

Because we were early Viv was ready to go at seven-thirty, so we almost missed the sorteo. We never win, but the excitement is good. We also missed the chacarera, which pleased Viv.

We returned home on the subte, which is more frequent and faster than the bus. Also the murga madness is still on at weekends so the bus again would have diverted.

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Where Buenos Aires Excels

There is an awful lot wrong with this place , but when they do something right they excel in a way like no other place. We were back to the school again as Viv wanted to go to the yoga and we could tie it in with a bit of asado on the roof. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon. Afterwards we walked down Callao and bought some silicon ice trays. Then it was back for a rest and some pastries before the nights activities. We usually wash before we go out, it was not happening tonight, no water. We saw Sebastian on the street and asked him. He said something about, water bajo pero no ariba, I said “la bomba” and he said yes. I was worried, when the pump failed during the build, it took three days to repair. Expect yellow teeth and muchos cologne in the next few days. During the autumn months they have a series of free concerts here and tonight we go to one at Parque Centanario with the Orquesta Teatro Colon. Let me start with the venue; In the midst of the park they have built a huge amphitheatre. It is all but invisible from almost any angle except directly above. The whole thing is cast from concrete and there is seating  for 2,000 people. Each person has an individual plastic seat, moulded to body shape but without a back and separated by a decent gap. The stage area is entirely covered, but the roof is grassed over, so that it cannot be seen from anywhere but the seating area. When we arrived we saw Janis in the queue, she had been there for half an hour. We had to carry on right around the Natural Science Museum to find the end of the queue. Not yet having seen the venue we thought that we would never get a seat. As the queue moved forward we realised that it was still growing, we could see now passed the next block where the line continued. Once through the gate we rushed to find a seat. Before realising that there was as yet more than enough room and we could still get a reasonable spot. Then we saw Janis waving manically at us, she had saved us two seats next to her. Looking around we had filled only about one third of the auditorium. More people poured in, and yet as  it reached capacity, we noticed that there was another upper level still filling.

You can see the upper level, the line above the standing mans head.

You can see the upper level, the line above the standing mans head.

When the lights came on the whole scene was magical.  Then the orchestra came in and made it complete. They performed for about an hour and a quarter, doing their versions of dance music from around the world. I was not too sure about their Scottish dance music, but then I suppose, it must be hard to orchestrate Andy Stewart. I cannot here show how great the sound was, but I can show you the Orchestra. RIMG1433 RIMG1439 And here is the Program:

PROGRAMA

  • Escocia: Camille Saint Saens, “Idylle Ecossaise” (de la Opera Hernry VIII).
  • República Checa: Antonin Dvorak, “Danzas Eslavas” Op. 72 No 2 Y Op. 46 No1.
  • Estados Unidos: Leroy Anderson, “El Reloj Sincopado”.
  • Cuba: Arturo Márquez, “Danzón No2″.
  • Rusia: Piotr. I Chaikowsky, “Polonesa y Vals de Eugenio Onieguin”.
  • Brasil: César Guerra-Peixe-Clovis Pereira, “Mourao”.
  • España: Pascual Marquina Narro, “Paso doble España Cañi”.
  • Argentina: Mariano Mores, “El firulete” – Astor Piazzolla, “Decarissimo”. ( areglos de José Carli)

I’m afraid the Cuba one is wrong, the conductor announced that Arturo Marquez, was his amigo and was not from Cuba, but from Mexico. So this is where Buenos Aires excels, culture. A top class orchestra in the park, in a massive auditorium, and best of all it’s free. We left Janis on Corrientes, after giving her advice on the buses (bet you never thought that that would happen did you?). To be fair this is my end of town not hers. I am not sure if we thanked her for the information about the concert, but I know she reads this  so I will thank her here.  Then we carried on to our dinner reservation. It is Friday after all. 1839, was a bit of a disappointment. It looked great from outside and the prices reflected this, but all they had was empanadas, pizzas and pasta. We were hoping for something a bit more and the service, although not bad, was not exceptional, for the price. At home you would probably say it was cheap, but we tend to compare with the local pricing. That said the pizza was good, but this is just everyday food here, we look for something different here on Fridays. At least when we got back Sebastian had got the water running again. Lets hear it for Sebastian and clean teeth.

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Too hot to tango?

We are living the high life here, down to the fruit shop on Humahuaca for some spuds, then over to Corrientes to get some more cold powders. Then back to bed with my hot toddy.

I had recovered in time to get out for Nuevo Chique though. The subte surprised us, it was all but empty. When we emerged into Uruguay the streets were also empty. I asked in the milonga about this, and apparently, because they said it was going to be hot everyone had stayed at home. Well it was good for me and I did not think it was that the temperature had peaked as high as they said anyway.

People were staying away from the milonga as well, some strange malady affects people, it seems when the mercury rises. It goes like this: It is hot therefore I will not go out. The milonga is cool but I will stay in my house.  Everyone on my block thinks the same so we use too much electricity, so now the power is cut. Now my air conditioner  does not work. Hace calor.

Es verano everybody, just enjoy.

Fortunately we are not affected by this malady and  most of my regular partners were here at Chique. Viv still has trouble though, perhaps the men are more effected by the heat.  We did have  a good dance though until it was time to go again. Viv spent most of the time with Areceli and my Chilean friend. It must have been some odd conversation, although Areceli does speak English. They seem to laugh a lot.

We took the 90 colectivo home tonight and it followed the normal route. So now I know where it stops, on Guardia Vieja, half a block away. Not as good as the 151, but in its absence, it is a good substitute.

 

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Gavito’s Grandson

We were not well today and spent most of the day in bed. I did get out earlier though, Sebastian said I could pay AFIP at the post office and they would send the parcel. Fat chance, after an hours wait the girl said I must go to the Aduano at the airport. So I must spend£50 in taxis to get something they value at £1. We are back to this; they can keep it, whatever it is.

Interesting thing though in the post office, they have a guard , with a gun. He spent most of his time enforcing the no Movil rule. Well they do something right here. Well almost, should have shot a few. (Only joking honest) On the way back a man asked me for Columbres, I told him it was eight blocks down Salguero and the other side of Rivadavia. He seemed to understand, then went off in the opposite direction. Crabtree strikes again?

Back home again and back to bed, I slept through until three with the help of a Vicks cold remedy. I still felt  crap but we decided to go out anyway.

Wouldn’t you know it, two 168s passed as we walked to the stop, it was going to be a long wait. Some lady came over and asked about a number 5 collectivo. I could not help, but there was a five on the parada, so we assumed she was in the right place. She told us she was from Ukraine and had trouble with Yo and que.  She talked mainly to Viv as most people do, Viv, of course, didn’t understand a word.  Eventually our bus arrived, I never saw a number 5, I hope our Ukrainian was OK.

The bus was so crowded we got off a stop early again, the lights were on red on Independencia so we went up a block into Entre Rios and we were travelling faster than the bus anyway.

Obalisco was brilliant, Viv only missed one tanda and that was when she went out for some air. Daft really it was hotter outside so she just came back in. There was a guy sitting by me, he often dances with Viv but today he could not see her from where he was. He was commenting all the time, he was especially caustic when the women would walk past and say to me “Hace calor”. “Es Verano” he kept saying. When a Pugliese tanda came on he was especially verbose, they dance too fast, they don’t respect the pauses and so on.  I don’t dance Pugliese because I don’t think that I can do it justice, but there was one couple on the floor who definitely did. I watched them as they filled the floor, taking advantage of every space and moving with absolute grace.

As I suspected there was a demo later and it was the same couple. My table companion and oft times commentator, told me that the dancer was the Grandson of Gavito. I guess it’s in the blood.

Can’t be bothered cooking so it’s back to Guardia la Vieja again. Of course as it is on the corner of Billinghurst the bus took the normal route and stopped outside of our apartment. It gave us a chance to drop off our stuff first.

Even the black beer did not help me sleep.  This dammed flu needs to go now.

 

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Brazil comes to Chacabuco

Viv dragged me off to Jumbo this morning, kicking and screaming I might add. I just hate the big supermarkets here. On the way we passed the Telo on Guardia Vieja, it is no more, it is deceased, gone even. Now it is just a pile of rubble. “Where can I take my ladies now” I ask “Dream on says Viv” She is so insensitive. Back to Jumbo, we wanted to look at the washing machines. There is one in particular that satisfies my engineering bent. Of course there was no one to talk to. We measured it, dragged it out from the display, and moved everything around it. You would have thought that by now somebody would have come over, if only to tell us not to move their stuff around, but no one came. The stereo opposite was blasting out some thump base funk and I was tempted to go and turn it off, but in the end we just left with what details we had. We got everything else we went for, but I was still not happy at the huge queues at the checkout. I would rather do without the things we cannot get at the chino, but I always get outvoted. Still we had some fun. There is a powered ramp back down to the ground floor, I decided to moonwalk back up it, joined by Viv we looked a right pair. Then we saw the security guard watching us from the top, shaking his head. No doubt thinking “locos extranjeros” We wanted to go to Parque Cachabuco later so, in vain hope, I went to see if the subte was running. Not a chance, how long does anything take here? The B line has not run at weekends since we arrived, that must be some essential maintenance they are doing, although I so far have not seen any evidence of it. We found that the 26 goes form close to us to right by Chacabuco so we set off to find the stop. Unfortunately it was not where it said on Como Llegar and the sign was on the post facing the road. First person said “Proxima Quadra” so we walked over. No sign the second person also said “Proxima Quadra” which would have put us back where we started. Fortunately we spotted it as we were about to cross the road. I followed the route closely on the map and I think I got it right, but Viv was standing by the bell when I said next stop. So we got off a stop early again. All was not lost though we were on Aveneda Eva Peron, which just happens to go straight to the park. We arrived about quarter to five and already we could hear drums. There was a small group of drummers practicing in the park. The sound was good but I thought it did not look exactly like a Brazilian spectacular. After ten minute they all packed up, not sure whether we had missed the show or not we set off across to the other side of the autopista. There there was a stage and an inflatable changing room. People were cleaning things and running wires around, there was no chance of it starting at five as the poster said. We occupied one of the tables and waited. Then people started gathering around the barriers, so it looked like our early arrival was in vain. TIA, nothing happened until six. The show girls were good and the music loud, but we are getting too old to sit outside listening to just percussion.

RIMG1425 RIMG1427

Our colds are also telling on us, we already had head aches, so we set off for home again and re-found the 26. The murga madness is still on so the bus did not take the normal route, we had to get off at Billinghurst again. Now the problem with closing the subte at weekends is, we keep finding better ways to get around. They need to be careful not to loose too much business. The early finish did mean we had time to set off for Fulgor again, but we did not. This cold is getting to both of us. We had sat around in our milonga clothes in the sun and then when the time came to actually go out again we decided against it. Too tired, too headachy and I don’t think that they would thank us for passing it on. So we took some pills and had an early night.

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Feels like my birthday

Saturday so I wanted to go to Parque Centanario again. I wanted some phone cable and perhaps a phone. Instead the guitar man was there. I just had to have it, no choice, it was calling to me. Viv has promised too pay for it when we get back as a late birthday present.
RIMG1416
It may be small, but it is perfectly formed and it fits in our personal box. He even threw in a bag for it.
We thought that we would forsake El Arranque today, as there is a tango class followed by a singer at The Carlos Gardel house. We had not written the time down and found we had only ten minutes left when we arrived and we would have to wait an hour for the singer. Not only was the class very basic (as we had expected) but the guy was trying to get us to open out to do more moves. I was not about to argue, but it just is not our style.
We were not going to wait around for an hour so we left for El Arranque. The 168 was stopped on the corner when we arrived, so we risked the traffic and managed to catch it.
It was so crowded I could not see where we were and managed to get off a stop early again. Still three more blocks is not a big deal in the great scheme of things.
Outside El Arranque we met Jongwoo who was surprised we were going in, he was on his way to Ideal. This is only one block from his place so we persuaded him to give it a try.
There was quite a crowd today, but we hardly missed a tanda and for once we stayed right to the end. I have a few ladies that I dance with regularly and they sit often together. While dancing with one she said she had a present for me, some pastries from El Americana, for Viv and I. Then another of the ladies gave me a book, sort of teenage fiction, easy reading for extranjeros. I said it felt like my birthday.
As we had stayed right to the end there was nothing for it but a pizza and Quilmes. La Americana was also packed and we struggled to get a table. After we were sated we set off for home.
We saw a 151 stopped at the lights, but there was no way he was going to let us on. So we waited at the stop, then a 90 came. It is only 10 yards to the stop but he also was not going to let us on, he took off on full boost.
Eventually we caught another 90. It also was packed to the gunnels and just behind it came an empty 151. Sods law.
Seems I was wrong, the murga madness is not over, so the bus turned off again before Corrientes.
When it stopped we struggled to get off. Some stupid girl was stood in the doorway with her Iphone. I shouted permiso twice, then had to physically throw her out of the way and jam my arms in the door to stop it closing. What is it with the youth of today and technology.
It looks like they have rebuilt the stage on Corrientes again, and all the madness has returned.

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