The great shoe hunt

The phone is ringing, argh, I hate being disturbed from my sleep. When I get to it, it is Perry “what time is it?” I said, he says he is in our area and now he is embarrassed at waking me up. I check my watch and it is midday. Well it would have been around three when we got to bed and we are supposed to be on holiday.

When Viv is roused and I start breakfast, I try to call Perry, and I cannot get through. I try again with no luck so I send him a text. When he rings me back, he says he is at Gascon and Guardia Vieja and would we like to join him, I say that I am already cooking breakfast now, so we agree to put off our meeting.

By now we are both dressed, it is an awful rainy day, the porridge can wait so we head off down to Gascon. Perry is surprised to see us but we greet and he moves to a bigger table so that we can join him.

So I am going to try to be clever, without seeing the menu I try “tienes huevos”……. “revuletos”. There was a look of shock on the waitress’ face, but she said “huevos revueltos? si”. When she had gone Perry told me, saying “tienes huevos” is like saying “do you have balls” We had a laugh about it and now I have a bit more porteno to remember

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and finally left him on Guardia Vieja to go and do more business. We came back to the flat and then set out ourselves to complete some unfinished business of our own.

When we got to Tango 8 in Abasto the girl said “tiene zapatos en San Telmo, cerrado a las cinco” I don’t know if she understood when Viv said we are on our way, or not.

We change subte trains at Diagonal Norte, it is always a crush, and getting across the platform of the D line always difficult. Still, we found a good place to wait for the next train, not too many people, they were all at the other end. The train pulled in, only halfway along the platform, suddenly everyone was rushing us, but the doors did not open. The train moved forward, but now it missed our end of the platform and when the doors opened there was a surge now the other way. In the ensuing madness one woman got dragged bodily off her feet and landed horizontally on the floor of the train. Of course now everyone was in the one carriage and it was just like a rush hour crush.

I managed to find the right exit from the tunnels and even set off in the right direction, unfortunately as Defensa runs in the same direction as the subte we were out by one stop, still it was not too bad.

We had a flyer with the address on of Tango 8 and so we sought out 1174 Defensa, unfortunately we could find no such address. At 1170 was a small arcade, we wandered around unable to see any sign of Tango shops. I asked inside one of the units and the lady in there had no idea. So we set off again to no avail, on the other side of the road is another arcade and here we finally found our shop, we later saw on newer flyers the address of 1179 Defensa.

Viv not only got the shoes we were seeking but also another pair, and with the possibility of others to come, we left happy with our shoe boxes in a paper carrier bag.

This arcade was in an old San Telmo house and I wanted to see it all. It was the old Conventillo type of house lots of homes around a central courtyard where all the cooking and washing was done. With a little imagination it was still possible to see how this had functioned.

Still the rain fell, the poetic Argentines would say “Buenos Aires llorar por Nestor Kirchner” but the tears would do the shoes or shoe boxes no good at all. Returning to Tango 8 the girl gave us some plastic bags to wrap our prizes in,  hopefully it would protect them.

We stopped for a coffee and medialuna, against my better judgement in Plaza Dorrego, but whether, because they were short of customers with the bad weather or not, they did not try to rip us off, in this tourist trap. We sat watching the rain and Amy Winehouse videos for a while hoping for the rain to stop. It never did, but we managed to keep the shoes dry until we got home.

Deciding to go to Salon Canning tonight, I cracked and took a taxi. Viv had no desire to walk in the rain dressed, as she was, for dancing, so we hopped in a taxi on Salguero and asked for Scalabrini y Gorriti. I was not sure that the driver could drive that way so I was playing safe, he was not for stopping though as we haired past Canning. At least we got there dry and reasonably cheaply.

The entrance was awash with people all trying to get a seat, no room, no room, like the mad hatters tea party. When the organiser came over he said “tiene reserva”  I said no and he said we would have to stand by the bar. I was thinking “highest entrada anywhere and we have to stand” then suddenly he said “I remember” (must be his only english) he beckoned us to follow and led us to a table at the back, leaving the crowd still at the door. Well it has taken six years, but finally the guy remembers me, Viv said “if we were regular perhaps he would remember us” I said “If he had remembered us perhaps we would be regulars”.

As I have said, it is not my favourite venue, the music does not move me and it is difficult to get to the floor. Once there it is difficult to move and we were always barged, still a lot of people seem to like it here so who am I to judge? One thing I did notice however was; how little english we had heard since arriving, but here in Canning every other person was english speaking. I have no problem with people who speak the same language as me, but I do wonder why anyone would come this far to dance with the same people that they would at home.

Unusually for us, here, we never saw anyone we knew. There was, of course the odd face we had seen at other milongas, but usually we bump into someone in Canning that we know.

We walked home, it had stopped raining and the streets were dry. We were both starving and the only place open after three in the morning was a garage. The place smelled of warm pastry and was just begging us to gorge on warm croissants, but in the warmer there was nothing but burnt offerings and in the fridge stale sandwiches. Whoever says this place never closes has not walked along Cordoba at three in the morning searching for food. We left with a packet of crisps, meagre offerings, but at least they do have excellent crisps here.



Filed under Argentina, Tango

4 responses to “The great shoe hunt

  1. tangobob

    Yes I admit it, weak of me I know, but it was raining really hard and it was only $13ar from here. Not bad though that is only two taxis in three weeks.

  2. Dear Bob and Viv (and Janis),

    Don’t forget, Man Yung not only goes shoe shopping with me, he is the one who picks out the shoes (and flirts with the sales ladies).

    You took a taxi?

    We were at Canning the previous Friday when Osvaldo and Coca performed. It was crazy packed. The waitress (how can they have two waitresses for the whole room?) took two hours to take and give us our order. We were afraid that Osvaldo and Coca would starve – luckily the empanadas arrived before they performed so they didn’t faint on the dance floor.

    We did encounter someone we knew! It was the Elbow Dancer. But we didn’t have to rip his head off – he came over to kiss Coca hello. Now, we can’t rip off someone’s head if they know Coca. Unless Coca told us to.


  3. tangobob

    She takes me along to buy coffee, carry shoes, pay fares, and also to navigate. You think I have any control over her shoe spending? Not a hope.

  4. jantango

    I enjoy reading your tales about navigating the city and using the language. I’m picking up some new words in English as well.

    You’re the only man I know who will go shoe shopping with his wife. I know you go along so Viv won’t get lost, but it’s really to keep control of how many pairs she buys. There are more than 30 tango shoe stores, so you still have many more to visit.

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