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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Customer service

Viv went off to the Spanish school for her Yoga, leaving me alone. It has gone cooler so I decided to put trousers on again, after living in shorts for four months. I thought the belt seemed tight so I decided to walk to meet her. We intended meeting so that I could say goodbye at the school and then we could go and look for some CDs.

At the school we said our goodbyes and then left, with not a wet eye in the house. Well what did you expect, tears? Viv will miss the yoga though.

We walked up to Callao and along to Zivals. I had a long list of tracks that I am looking for, and I am afraid Zivals fell well short. We only bought one CD. There was a small shop back along Callao where we could get a Coffee and browse the music. It was much further on than I had thought and we were almost back to where we had joined Callao. I knew it was the right place, it still had the old sign outside, saying books and records, but it had been gutted, and was now just a restaurant.

Still thirsty we backtracked again and found a small bar with wooden walls, but playing some excellent music. A good place to stop for a coffee and medialuna. Unfortunately they had non but the lady ran off to the panederia to get us some. Not bad , good coffee, medialunas and good music, and half the price of Naranjo.  So I left a 20% tip, well it would have been 10% at our local, so we were still in Credit.

Now we had exhausted the interesting shops It was time to be serious and we headed off to Euro Records. When we got there we found it had moved, but only one block, It just meant we had to backtrack again.

The new place looked just like the old, except Viv noticed that one of the cases was on the opposite wall. I told the guy what I wanted and he found me a CD. Then I told him the next and again he found me another, then he took my list and before long I had eight CDs in my hands. Unfortunately one of them was full of tracks I already had but we were happy with seven. The service was second to non and he threw in a poster as a gift. I don’t suppose he gets many coming here for seven CDs.

We left happy and continued up Lavalle. As we came out of the door there was a taxi passing, the driver leaning out of the window. When we got to Pueyrredon we crossed in front of the same taxi. Despite Viv wanting to look in every shop and even myself looking in the odd one, we had covered six blocks in less time than a taxi. Why anyone would bother driving here is a mystery to me.

When we got to Abasto, Viv wanted to go into Coto. I protested, but said she wanted Greek style yogurt and they only have it here. “Probably not today”  said I, and I was right. Not to be outdone she bought some yogurt anyway.

We got to the checkout and, you guessed it, queues. I fell in behind someone with a trolley full, but Viv looked down the other tills. Over here she said, there was a quick till almost empty. Then the girl said she was closed. How long would it take her to check out a pot of yogurt? but no, no service here. We fell in again at the next till, behind a mountain of shopping, then the other till was open again with three customers. It was too much for me I put the yogurt down and walked out. Viv wanted to put it back on the shelf, but I would not let her, they had their chance and I got my way. We bought yogurt from the chino, no queue, no waiting, customer service.

See that is what brings people back.

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La Viruta

We were up quite late today. It was going to be a long night and we had intended to have a siesta, but there was now not much point. I had a few small shopping forays to do, but not a lot else.

Viv suggested I take her shoes to the feria Americana, as it would give me a bit of a walk. So I headed off, bag in hand, down Lavalle. At the feria, the woman looked at Vivs shoes and said “Son lindos pero tengo un monton. No quiero”. So that was it, she had too many women’s shoes already and wanted no more.

So I walked back and bought us some provisions on the way. As luck would have it, the ropa lady called, so I gave her the shoes, which she was glad of.

We left a bit later for Fulgor this week, knowing it would be empty when we arrived. Sure enough, at almost nine, Norma was outside smoking and inside was deserted. It gradually filled, with each new arrival we had to stop our dancing and welcome them with a kiss. Mostly they come here just to socialize and have some pizza, so they never stay too long and the smell of pizza was getting to me, it got to Viv as well, because later we got the munchies. The numbers never passed thirteen again and we never had a sorteo, but that was ok because we all got a free beer again. I could get used to free beer.

We hung on as long as we could, but by quarter past eleven even Elsa and Bob were heading off, so we had to make a move.

It is not much of a walk from here to Armenia and La Viruta was not due to open until 11:30, so we expected that to be quiet too. Otros Aires were performing live with Joe Powers as well. Knowing how things work here we expected nothing to happen until at least two in the morning.

Downstairs in Viruta it was chaos, the dance class from upstairs were coming down same time as us and there were hundreds already inside. Lots of arm wrestling and flying heals, the young trying to impress everyone but their partners. We could see no organisers and people were putting their own chairs out. Viv walked through and. towards the bar, this was not going to work. I dragged her back to the entrance. I saw one guy who was setting up tables “Tienes dos sillas?” I asked, “tiene reserva?”  he asked in reply “Si” I lied. So he pointed us to a table next to the dance floor and close to the stage, with two seats.

Otros Aires came on at midnight, the flyer said 11:30, this is punctuality Argentine style, far earlier than we expected. We danced the first two milongas, but it was manic. Otros aires is always thus but the chaotic floor made my life very difficult, so we decided to sit and listen for a while, anyway it was nice to relax with a black beer. We got up once or twice during the set, but generally we were happy just to listen and enjoy.

We were impressed with Joe Powers, he obviously does not always play with Otros Aires and was playing directly from sheet music. Quite a feet, live on stage.

There is no waiter service here so you have to go up to the bar. We had got the munchies by now but they only had pizza or full menus, all we really wanted was an empanada. By one o’clock the set was over and I got a chance to say hello to Miguel and buy a CD. He remembered Prestiegne, but we did not have much time to talk, people were lined up behind us, so I said chau and we set off into the night.

The city that never sleeps, always seems comatose when we are hungry. The burger bar opposite Viruta was shuttered up, so we walked to the eighties bar on Julien Alverez. “La cocina es cerado” the guy said, so we just used the toilets and left. This was a mistake as someone had left gum on the floor and now Viv was sticking to the pavement everywhere.

We tried the garage on Cordoba, they had a wide range of Cheese and Onion sandwiches, but no empanadas. Nothing was open anywhere. Then we saw the Garage that runs through from Cordoba to Estado de Isreal, the sign said “Abiert 24horas” so we tried it. Success, so we sat at two in the morning eating empanadas with all the taxi drivers, watching English TV with Spanish subtitles.


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Wednesday Finally Cracked

It was a dull miserable day when we awoke, not at all what we have come to expect and 18 degrees outside. Then it started raining, not the usual torrents we have here but genuine drizzle.  I went to the kiosco to top up my phone, then the fish shop for some gambas, as Viv wanted to make a risotto later.

There was not a lot to do today so we headed over to Naranjo y Flor for some Jugo. As we were sitting inside we decided to try something different and what looked like custard slice. Big mistake, it was not custard slice and neither of us is really sure what it was, Viv recons it was cheese cake, maybe, but dried up cheesecake if it was. Perhaps we should stick to the tarta manzana next time.

I think we finally have Wednesdays cracked, it has taken four months and numerous false starts, and it was our last chance. We decided to go to Salon Canning at four thirty, not long after it was open. There were not many people in there, so it made cabeceo easy although there were few people we knew. For the first two hours Viv did not miss a tanda, but after the first hour I was starting to find it difficult.

That said I did not miss until about seven o’clock. Then I ran out of ladies that I could see that were going to dance with me. I missed two tandas, but still danced the milonga with Viv. I got a couple more, but by now it was a real struggle to see through the crowds and execute a cabeceo. I was missing tandas and very soon Viv had enough as well.

So it was time to head for home  and that risotto. All in all it was our best Wednesday so far, two and a half hours good dancing will do. We could have stayed longer, and certainly we saw some new men for Viv as we walked out, but no point in pushing your luck. Tomorrow is another day.

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Ghost town

It’s still a feria so everywhere is quiet. We enjoyed a long lie in with little traffic to disturb us, it was bliss.

Taking the subte down to Uraguay we had to wait seven minutes because it was feria service. but still it is a good service. We got out the other end and were amazed how quiet the roads were. It felt like the place was turning into a Ghost town, that is until we saw traffic coming the wrong way, it seems they had been directed this way to avoid the closed roads. We found it easy to move with everywhere so quiet, that was until we reached 25 Mayo. The road was completely blocked with processions and murga bands and just noise. Fortunately up from Uruguay was just audience, so although we struggled, we managed to get through all the pushchairs and people just standing around. Once through though and we had a clear run again. We debated whether the day would mean an empty milonga or a full one, there was no telling. Sometimes people go away and sometimes the go out, which would it be tonight?

San Jose was empty even the cartoneros and their mess were absent. Nuevo Chique was packed though, it was not too bad at first but soon every available seat was filled and it was near impossible to cabeceo. If I managed to get in early it was ok but once everyone was up dancing it was impossible. I sat out a couple of tandas simply because I could not see over the floor. Still we had a good night and Viv hardly sat down, which is also good. Dancing was difficult though, there was just enough space for someone always to be competing for the same spot. I managed to keep a good movement going, but was not immune to some careless dancer crashing into me, from my blind side.

Talking of blind side, I was proud of Viv. She got a blind guy up to dance and he really seemed to be enjoying it. She said “He was strong, so it was hard to lead him, while still following”. A tricky act, but shows how far she has come. I hope she will try again with the guy who comes to El Arranque.

We had decided that we would eat around constitution, but changed our minds and instead, decided on the Old Woman. At the bus stop there was no sign of a colectivo, no 90, no 168 and no 151. So after a short wait we headed off towards Callao and the subte. Viv worried that we might miss a bus as soon as we walked, but we were crossing constitution and would meet it the other side, if it came. Needless to say, no bus passed.

We had our bondalinas again, and again they were “muy rico”. You just gotta love Guarda La Vieja.

Off to bed again with full stomachs.

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Día Nacional de la Verdad y la Memoria

There is a bitter irony here. The President is trying hard to make the world see “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” without much success thankfully, even her plans to put it on all the busses has not got off the ground. Nobody seems to notice that without the defeat at the Falklands, the military Junta would not have collapsed. (Well not at that point anyway)

So although many hundreds, sadly, lost their lives, probably thousands more would have joined “The Missing” had it not taken place. History would have taken a different turn and perhaps the Kirchners never would have been in power and, who knows? Maybe there would still not be democracy here.

Also a day of memory for “The Lost” from the days of the Junta, sponsored by Christina, seems, to me, a bit pointless without proper investigations into “The Lost” and their missing descendants, and a tad Ironic while still sabre rattling over the Falklands.

There are two massive sores in the Argentine psych, both of which Christina seems to relish picking at. This is a great country, but it could be so much better if only wounds were allowed to heal.

Funny enough for a bank holiday there are two men outside working down a manhole. I never noticed this before, the electric, the drains, the gas, all services have to smash up the pavements to do their work. Today I find that only the telephone people have the foresight to put tubes in the ground connecting a network of manholes, and they work on bank holidays. Someone should remind me next time I have a go at the telephone people.

We arrived at Obalisco early expecting it to be crowded and certainly even at this early hour many seats are occupied. The first hour was a disaster for Viv, I danced with her more often than I should, hoping that no one noticed. Apart from Jon I was the only dance she got. Funny how the crowd changes though and it got much better for her. Not for the Lady sitting next to her though. She was an Argentine who has lived most of her life in Miami. I had a dance with her, but she left shortly afterwards, not having the benefit of a partner to occasionally make her less of a wallflower. Two dances in three hours in three hours, she had good reason to feel miffed.

We stayed on until after the sorteo, Viv missed the $500 by one number, but a miss is as good as a mile. We were lucky with the colectivo on this feria day, a 90 arrived not long after we did, and we had a seat all the way back to Guardia Vieja.

We dropped our shoes off and headed for Imaginario. There was going to be a live band tonight called El Doblado and we had arranged to meet some friends. It was however still early and we wanted some food first.

We wondered where the band would perform and had a look around. Then I noticed some sounds coming from the cellar, but it appears we were not allowed down there. Soon they had struck up and were rehearsing at full volume. We decided that we were in the best place to listen. I think they had their volume set to 13.

We enjoyed an almost full concert, but when 22:00 arrived it was quiet down there. Mauricio arrived with an American friend Antonio, but there was no sign of Kym. Philippe, it seems, thought it was Sunday today and was with friends. Mauricio was enjoying sending him messages in French, but he would not be coming either.

Probably just as well, as the band did not strike up again until quarter to twelve, by which time we had, had enough and were ready to go. It looked like they were charging at the top of the stairs, to go down and see the band, and I did not feel like paying whatever it was, for just five minutes. It was long past our bedtime and so we decided to leave, we said our goodbyes on the corner.

We enjoyed an unusually quiet traffic free nights sleep.

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What date?

Viv likes to sit on the balcony in the sun, me, I like to go out exploring. So there I was walking up Estado de Israel when two girls walked out from a doorway. One of them had cut-offs on, and they were cut very short. Seeing me walking behind them, she clutched the bottoms of her shorts and pulled them down, which sort of drew my attention to them. She turned to see me watching and did it again. This got me thinking (No, not nice bottom, although I did) but, was she now regretting cutting them so short, or was this deliberately done to make me look? Ladies out there your opinion is valued here.

Corrientes has an overhead sign like they have over the motorways at home. It usually displays messages like don’t drink and drive or respect the speed limits, but today it was trying to tell me something. I worked out that Corrientes would be closed, but when? There was an absolute profusion of dates. It made no sense at all. Then it slowly dawned on me ( the old brain is not getting any quicker, you see) many of the streets are named after historical dates. What I was looking at was a list of streets that would be closed. The only date that mattered was 23rd March, tomorrow.

The reason for the closure is tomorrow is another ferria. So we had to get to Fulgor early as they would be full again. We arrived at about eight fifteen and it was not too bad, but by nine it was full and still they came. The DJ Daniel played some excellent tandas and even the tropical was good. We even got up and did a cha cha. The standard of floorcraft was poor though and I spent much of my time avoiding back steps and diagonal dancers, still we had a great night. It was topped off with the sorteo, extra free beer, what more can a man want.

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