Worlds apart

It’s the weekend and Viv wanted to root around all the market stalls in Palermo, so as we were up early (for us anyway) we set off in the sunshine for our old stomping ground.

As we walked down Garuchaga (I think) we passed a mens clothing shop, and right at the back was an old Corvette, beautiful with gleaming paintwork and chrome.  It was too much for me, I had to go in and look. Now I am not so naive that I do not realise that they put these things there for a reason; Draw you in then hopefully you will buy something. The sales staff pounced, but the way he pounced was as if to say “if you don’t intend buying, then bugger off” so that is exactly what I did. Viv said it was obvious that we did not intend buying, but the point is, we may well have just seen something, after all, what harm were we doing. The point is, outside we would never become customers but inside, well there is always a chance.

We wandered on as we do. We wandered down Gorritti and saw what looked like a garden in a passageway. Not put off, but now with a little more trepidation I set off to explore. The whole passageway was a sort of City garden centre, trees shrubs and plants all in pots ready for your balcony. Obviously we would be buying nothing here, but nobody was pressurizing us, so we looked and enjoyed and made the place look a little more busy. There was a surprise though; at the end of the corridor were more units, a sort of  “passage artisanales”.

There was a place full of  rather expensive niknaks, we looked around but I can’t bring myself to pay $50 or about £10 for a candle. Then there was Tealosophy. I wandered in and they pounced again, but not in the aggressive way of the clothing shop, more gentle and just enjoy our scents and flavours. The girl brought various teas in baskets a waved them under my nose, I enjoyed all the scents and we enquired of the prices. Again it was all a bit expensive, but the flavours were so good, I think we will return and bring some Argentine tea for our practicas.

It was not just the shop service that was miles apart: We wandered over to Parque Centenario, there was a market, of sorts there as well. Not the pristine stalls with the most expensive tourist tat or hand-made jewelery here, no it was more a gigantic garage sale. People had just spread blankets on the ground and were selling their old toys, cameras, tools, anything for which they no longer had a use. Most of the stuff here we would have consigned to a skip, but this is a complete opposite to the throw away society in which we live.

Nobody throws anything away here, there is a repair shop on every street where you can get anything repaired or exchanged, buy second-hand or get rid of your old appliances. If you do throw anything out, the cartoneros will grab it and make use of it. Talking of which I saw something today that really surprised/disgusted me. A boy, no more than twelve or thirteen was walking along the street and saw some dog shit wrapped in paper. He unwrapped the shit, tossed it on the street and put the paper in his pocket. I wait for the day when they find a use for dog shit, no doubt if they could sell it, that would have been in his pocket too.

Tonight we are heading out for Associacion National Italiana, I don’t think we have been there since 2004 so it will be almost like a totally new experience. Jantango said she will meet us there so we should have a good night.

The journey down was almost uneventful, apart from a drunk wanting to give us directions, when we missed Alsina and had to back track, and we had taken the subte rather than the collectivo as I wanted to check how much money was on my Monedera card.

It takes some time to get into the dancing here, the Portenos lack the discipline of european dancers, in that they change lanes, go backwards and generally invade your space, if you let them. All contrary to what is taught in Europe. It is, afterall their dance and I often wonder how these European greats would cope. Me ? well I was not coping that well, but I should be able to by the end of my month here. I had one funny incident; as I led Viv into an ocho milonguero (cortado) she looked at me as if to say “why have you stopped” my leg which was behind me was now tangled with the leg of another, I never did know who it was, I was too busy just retaining my composure and trying to look cool.

I had Jantango quizzing me all through the night on the orquestas, why does my mind go blank when she asks me? Perhaps it is the fear of being wrong, I should be better by now.

We are not yet ready for a late night, after all two o’clock here is still six at home and in my head, so we set off into the night. Janis apologised that she wanted to stay, it was no real problem as we would probably be headed in different directions anyway.

I had the route home worked and it was all clear, then as we approached the bus stop we saw our 168 disappearing into the distance, perhaps we could run across congresso and catch it the other side, then maybe not. So we waited. I had ignore another drunk as he kept calling after me “excoos me excoos me” still we were unacosted at the stop.

Our route home was preplanned so we expected to have to wait for the next 168, but Viv said “Isn’t there another bus we can catch?” we looked at the sign on the parada and I reconned that the 151 also stopped near us, so when one passed we jumped on. As we pulled our ticket out of the machine a 168 came up behind “bugger”. Still we were on another mini adventure.

The sign said Salguero and Cordoba so it would stop about two blocks from us, good enough. When we turned off Rivadavia down Salguero I knew it would pass right by our appartment. Viv wanted to get off at Corrientes but I stayed put, got up and pressed the bell as we crossed Corrientes and it stopped right at our door.

Chuffed I am getting the hang of this collectivo thing at last. Door to door service only $2.20 that is less than 40p things may have gone up here but you cannot beat that for service.


Filed under Argentina, Tango

2 responses to “Worlds apart

  1. tangobob

    Yes, I think this attitude is unusual here, although quite common in the more expensive shops back home. I just hope it stays uncommon here.

  2. jantango

    I’ve never encountered any agressive sales personnel in BsAs. They are doing their job by being attentive to customers. After all, if there are no sales, the place goes out of business, and they lose their jobs. It is customary to say “buenos tardes” when entering a store. Staff are there to answer questions and direct customers to what they are looking for. Then they leave you alone. That’s been my experience. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, they often tell you where to go to find it. They go out of their way to help.

    I stayed last night to have one tanda with the milonguero who showed up late. We had danced on Wednesday at Celia’s, and he mentioned La Nacional to me. It was worth the wait just to dance one tanda with him.

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