I am often asked why we bring so much from The UK, I hope that the following story will help to make it clear:
We have brought some lining material with us, as Philippe says that there is too much light getting through the new curtains we brought earlier. So before I can fit the new pole Viv wants to sew the lining into the curtains. The problem is we need pins and thread. We know that there are haberdashery shops by the dozen in Lavalle not too far from us. So at about quarter to twelve we set off in search of cotton. It is about twelve blocks to where the needle craft starts and soon we found a shop that would fit our needs.
In the window were sets of pins reels of cotton, broderie anglaise, and all sorts of other sewing stuff that is a mystery to me. The window is at oblique angle, it is about two metres wide but only take up a metre of the shops width, then there is the door and possible half a metre the other side. Inside this two and a half metres is taken up with a counter right down the length a row of shelves and drawers on the back wall and more shelves behind the counter. Narrow it may be but it is almost impossible to guess its length, because the queue is right to the door. Luckily Viv spotted that the woman in front had a number, so we found the ticket dispenser and took number forty-three.
Soon I heard the guy behind the counter shout sixteen. He got no answer seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, seems people had got fed up and left. An hour later, after watching one poor guy struggling to cope with the queue, and six other people moving up and down the counter doing who knows what, he reached thirty-nine. We then noticed one of the women behind the counter started to serve as well, so in only another fifteen minutes we finally had our number called.
Now what we wanted was in the window, but we were now a long way from there, so some ingenuity was required. There was a display of bra inserts on the wall, so I pulled a pin out of it and said “quiero estos” the girl came with a box of wire pins so I said “con cabezas grandes” that worked and we got a box of pins with big heads. Next we needed cotton Viv was not ready for more argy bargy so we just pointed to a pack of mixed threads that was under the counter.
Now that should have been it, but this is Argentina, and it is never that easy. The girl pointed to the far end of the counter and said “caja” so we had to join another queue. The girl behind the cash desk was in no mood to be serving customers, she disappeared down below, then poked the printer, went to the calculator, then disappeared under the counter again.
When she was finally ready to serve she served the woman who had come after us. She was surprised that this happened, I was not, we are now getting used to this. Before she could serve us the cashier then had to go through the whole under the counter, printer calculator routine again. Our bill came to seventeen pesos, slightly more that we expected. Up until now we could not see what was in our bag, but when we got it, we had; the cotton, pins with big heads, and also the original wire pins. So nearly two hours after we started we had what we wanted plus some extras.
So when you next ask me why do you take all that stuff to Argentina when you could buy it there, I will just reply “two hours for some pins”.
We have an invite from the organisers Of Sin Rumbo tonight, I have, up until now, avoided this one because of the distance, but we are getting more adventurous. I decided to take the subte as it goes to within sixteen block and as I do not know this area at all I would not know where to get of the collectivo. That was my first big mistake; the last two stops, shown on the tango map have not been completed so we have a long walk.
Never the less we had set out early and had plenty of time. The map around this area is complex and difficult to read (even with my glasses on). So we had a couple of retraces before confidently setting off in the right direction. The journey in total took an hour and a half, so it was not too bad, comoviaje said an hour on the bus.
We absolutely loved this place, we were made very welcome and again people wanted to practice their english on us. Every milonga has to have a demo now it seems. So when it started we sat there expecting more acrobatics and flying heels. This one was different, although obviously large, because he had the space, the dancing was excellent, I could have watched this guy for hours.
At three we had had enough and set off to find the bus back. Because we are so far out of town, most of the roads now run two way, but the bus stop we were to wait at seemed to be the wrong way. As always we had a long wait and when a bus came it was from the wrong direction for our stop. I stuck my hand out anyway and the driver stopped and obligeingly opened his window, ” Medrano y Corrientes” I said, he nodded and said “si” so we walked round the bus and got on.
Normally the drivers here are too busy and not interested in the passengers, perhaps because it was so late and we passengers were few, he was extra helpful, even telling me when we got to our stop. There was no point telling him we know this end of town well now, so we thanked him warmly as we left the bus. Next time though, we will take the bus out as well, and hope we recognise where to get off in Villa Urquiza.