Monthly Archives: February 2017

There’s a car stuck in your window

As the heat is getting to me I decided to get rid of some of my loft insulation, my usual hairdresser was closed so I risked the one Philippe uses. It must be because he always tries to get a bargain that he ends up with the Lionel Blair cut, my wasn’t at all bad.

Now going to our favourite dietetica I approached it from the other direction. Imagine my shock as all the front of the building was stoved in. There were bits of car everywhere and the shutters were down. On paper across the front was written “Abierto” so I walked to the side entrance. A good trick to get your ear in is to ask a question that you already know the answer to “Que paso?” I asked “Un auto choca, pero no pasa nada” No Pasa Nada! you have to love em, I would have been furious. “Estan locos” I said “si” she replied.

Car drivers here really are nuts, from the direction of all the debris I assume that the car was trying to beat someone across the junction towards Corrientes and another set of lights. So instead of twenty seconds more at the next set of lights, they probably ended up in hospital and definitely car less.

Philippe came around with Walter, it seems he needs some sort of contract to get the money back from his divorce settlement.  We had an hour or so just chatting then they were off again.

We went out for a walk, to buy a few things and then stopped at a bar. I should know by now not to use bars on Corrientes but, it seems, I never learn. No black beer so we just had coffee and medialunas. The bill came to 128$ar, that is £6.50 Chester prices. The difference when we are talking about coffees is small I suppose but still, more than £2 more than I would pay at El Revolutionario is just taking the mick.

I will just have to buy a bottle of Quilmes Stout at the chino. I could have bought three for the cost of that coffee, and brewed my own coffee for almost nothing.


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I bit of a damp squid this, they predicted an Eclipse in the local papers. Maybe it was my lack of understanding, but while the local TV showed it happening in Chubut there was not a sign here. We could have done with a bit of darkness to drop the temperature, still I came here to get away from the winter so cannot complain too much about the heat.

I was going to Sullivan’s this morning to watch the Rugby, but Viv did not want to go and Geoff decided to watch it on freeview. So not wanting to be Billie no mates I stayed in to watch it myself on freeview.  I thought I struggled with the rules, but it seems I am not the only one. The Italians developed a whole new game plan that thwarted the English team. It seems that they were using the rules to their advantage, and the English were totally flummoxed. The weaker side and fifty to one outsiders, they very nearly carried it off. Fair dos to the French referee, he had the best game of all. When asked what they could do about it he said “I am a referee, not a Coach”

We hit the chino afterwards, first time ever we spent over £20. More a result of our shortages than sudden inflation. Although inflation is a big problem here, household items like washing liquid and other cleaning items are for some reason expensive here. I bought some cheddar (not typical here) it was 170$ar a kilo. I checked Asda price at home and Cathedral city is 200$ar per kilo. So even on non typical Items they are still cheaper than at home.

I know I should not complain, but the walk to Club Fulgor was too hot. With no cloud and the sun gone you would expect some drop in temperature, but it was barely discernible. When we got there one of the air conditioners was not working and it was way above the Cities recommended 24 degrees.

Still we danced, and I danced with Norma and had another lovely dance with Bebe. The couple we met last year from Cumbria were here again, still not attending many milongas, but happy being here. We had our usual agua con gas and Quilmes stout served up by Mariana, who was returning after last weeks bout of sickness. Her son (we think) was there all night to watch over her, but I thought she still looked unwell, despite her ever present cheerfulness.

We stayed later again but by eleven we had enough, a Puliese tanda, I did not like the first track, danced the second and sat down for the third. So we changed our shoes. All packed and ready to go and Ruben put on Tango Negro, I shouted at him “he cambio mis zapatos” he just laughed. Viv said I should have told him to play it earlier next week, but I think he got the message.

When we got back we had left our air con on, set to 24 degrees, it felt like a fridge after Fulgor.

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Too darn hot

After watching Wales loose to Scotland it was time to dance again.

Today is the last ever El Arranque at Nuevo Salon Argentino so we expected big crowds. And they came, the place was packed out. The normal excuse for not coming, there is no air conditioning, forgotten for the day. Well not forgotten for long, with this big a crowd the temperature was soon on the rise. The floor got sweaty and sticky and everyone was soon complaining. I didn’t mind too much, as long as the ladies did not object to the fact that I was completely soaked. All my regulars were there so apart from a sit out to cool down I did not miss. Viv was having less luck, as always when it is too crowded she has difficulty.

At seven again she had enough and went over to speak to friends then headed off to change her shoes. Meanwhile I got pinned down while Jesus made a speech and the Juan Carlos as well. She was standing by the door fed up by the time I got there. I am, by now, well used to always being in the wrong,, so I just let her moan at me.

We have been recommended a restaurant on Juan Peron only two blocks away so we thought we would give it a try tonight. As usual there are some things on the menu we did not understand, but trying to get answers of the waiters is like getting blood out of a stone. Eventually we found out that the pasta was served with tomato sauce and Viv said she would give it a try. I ordered steak, of course.

The waiter came back and asked what we had ordered, strange, I thought. Then My steak came, it was huge and a big pile of chips and salad. It was served on a serving plate, obviously to share. We debated a while what to do and then asked if we could not have the pasta, fortunately he said that was ok.

Well we finished the steak, the chips and the salad, but only just. It needed help from the Stella or it never would have gone down. Another £15 meal for two, who says it is expensive here?

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El Lobo

Well after I had done the regular shopping I set out again for some compost. It is one of the hard things living here, even though everything is close, with no car everything has to be carried by hand. So that is my upper body exercise done for the day.  The ficus are now well planted and happy in their new home, I hope that they have a long and happy life, unlike the bamboo.

I don’t know what happened to El Beso this week. Almost non of our regular partners were there and we struggled all the way through. So many half tandas because we could get no one’s eye and even the odd one missed completely. It was almost like when we first came here and nobody knew us. Still I have been given a milonguero name by the lady who says I have Wolf eyes, my new name is El Lobo.

By seven we had enough, time to head home for some steak and beer. Sometimes it’s the only way.

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Las Madres

I decided to plant up my ficus plants today. Now living in the air is not the same as having a house, all the soil needs to be bought and you just cannot get crocks for the bottom. So my first job was to get some rubble. There is a new building on the opposite corner and they have a skip full of the stuff. I have been a bit afraid of skip raiding but decided to grasp the nettle today. I went there with my giant plant pot and trowel. Well I say trowel it is part of an indoor gardening set, and here lies my first problem, it is no bigger than a tea spoon.

So there I was digging with my tea spoon in a skip and very soon I had a group of builders all leaning on their wagon laughing at me. As I left I just said “Es por bajo mis plantas” they just laughed again. Well at least I knew I was doing nothing wrong. The two bags of compost I had were still not enough even with all the rubble I will have to make another shopping trip later in the week.

The forecast said rain today so I took an umbrella with me to Nuevo Chique. Numbers were again down, but not as low as we have seen in other places on other days. Funny old thing but I had trouble getting dances with some of my regulars. There was a group of tourist here today as well, watching them dance brings again to mind that those who teach them are not used to the milongas, they struggled. A few simple tricks could have enabled them to dance much more easily and navigate better, but instead they had all the moves, they just could not find the room to do them.

We stopped off at El Revolutionario again for coffee and as we sat there people started clapping.  I did not at first realize what was happening. It was Thursday, Thursday is when the Madres go to the Plaza de Mayo, and they were returning. They came in like returning heroes (which I suppose the were) they waved to everyone and everyone clapped. We, of course, joined in. It would have been rude not to, but there were now less than half a dozen. The years have taken their toll on them.

On the bus home, a gentleman offered Viv a seat and was quite amused when she gave me something to read. I normally wear my glasses out and about for sun protection, but do not need them to see. I do, however need them to read and I could not get far enough away to read this.

Later an old lady came and sat next to Viv. She was quite chatty and oblivious to the fact that Viv did not understand a word she said.

Last call of the day was the chino for some milk and butter. We were pleased to see the nice girl who was always there had returned. I will have to ask here where she has been since January. I just hope I can understand the answer.

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A bad couple of days

In the morning the power went off, fortunately our tank has enough water for a few days, but we filled pans just in case.

We had to have cold showers though because the boiler does not work without electricity. I had to go down to the confiteria for something for breakfast as we cannot microwave the porridge.

Nuevo Chique was almost deserted. Oh there were enough women, but the men were almost non existent. As Viv was not getting dances all hope of a long one were gone. Trouble was that there was also a storm raging outside. There was no mention of this on the weather forecast, but there was no denying the rain was bouncing down.

Luckily we managed to get out in a lull and to El Revolutionario without getting too wet. No electric meant no proper breakfast so we had a Buenos Aires giant tart each. Viv had Dulche de leche and I had membillo.

I had bought in some chop suey, but the lights were still off, I could not ask Viv to cook in the dark so we headed out to Imaginario for some omelet and salad, washed down with a measure of stout. We got a taste of what it must have been like for Philippe in the early days with no air con. It was unbearable and we had an awful nights sleep. It did not help the noise having the window open.

Again in the morning no power, so again no breakfast. The electricity finally came back on just before we got ready, so, at least, we managed a hot shower.

We returned  to Canning today, only a pound more than Juan and with Erwin as DJ, it had to be better. The problem was again the numbers were right down. I now think it was the threat of storm, which again did not appear on our forecast. Still I had some good dances even found out the cat womans name. Viv did not do as bad as she made out, but was ready to leave by seven.

We came out into another torrent. Only one umbrella with us and totally inappropriate footwear we dodged buildings all the way back. We were lucky not to be completely soaked. I think that there is a lesson here for us. Still it was romantic, at least, the two of us huddled together under one umbrella.


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Radio Star?

Monday is our rest day, a day free from tango and a chance to rest our aching muscles, but we do not rest up completely. We walked down to Palermo for Viv to do some shopping. On the way we stopped at a bar, just for coffee, you understand. This was not the sort of place that had facturas so I decided to have beer. The guy made out he did not understand when I asked for a poron and insisted I asked in English. Then he told me that they do not do poron and I must have a pint and no black beer. I think I remember this bar, we came here a few years ago and decided not to come back. I wish my memory served me better. Still the beer was ok if a little early in the day.

On the corner across the road they were either renovating or rebuilding the corner. It was at a stage where you could not tell. I was fascinated to watch a guy doing the outside in traditional concrete work. He was making a coppice along the front, a slow job so unless I go back I will not see it finished.

We walked then into the centre of Palermo so that Viv could buy some earrings and a scarf. The sun was baking hot and when Viv was in the shops I just enjoyed the man crèche and the air conditioning.

When we got back from our shopping trip it was straight down for some Ice cream. Our usual place was closed so I had to go to Farricci, cost me and extra pound but they do have better flavours.

Anyway sitting here afterwards, watching nine out of ten cats and my messenger comes alive. It was Fernando Farias, it seems he wants to interview me for the radio. Well I have the face for it, so they say. My interview is next Monday, I will let you know when it is to be broadcast.


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There’s only one Juan Caceres

How nice to wake up to all services working. Today I can cook breakfast and have coffee from our new machine. Ah the little things that we so miss when deprived of them. Later I stroll around to Philippe’s and we chat while he cooks dinner for Mariela. He speaks far better English than I speak Spanish (French not at all) but he did not quite understand when I told him that the tray must be hot before you put potato slices on it, or they will stick. They stuck. I should know I have spent many hours watching an expert.

We went out to meet the bus and I said hello to Mariela and her daughters. When we had all kissed I left them to it and went back home.

The sun is glorious, and I am topping up my vitamin D just walking along. We never sit in it but it still lifts my spirits.

When I came back we walked up Corrientes to get some plants, two ficus veriagata at 100$ar each. The girl at the cash desk said something about cash discount and only charged me 170$ar. I saw the notice afterwards but I was pleased just the same. Everyone likes a bargain, two ficus plants for £8.50 not bad.

Club Fulgor tonight is looking a bit empty. So many of the locals are not returning, usually by this time of year the numbers are starting to rise. Roberto is not there to keep things organized and even Mariana has had a night off, things are looking bad for my favourite Darby and Joan club. Still those who were there had a great time as usual. The tall teaching couple were there, trying to out demo us as we parried around the floor, and I had a couple of dances with Norma and Bebe just for variety.

We were almost ready to leave and a milonga tanda came on, starting with Tango Negro. During the second track Viv asked If this was also Caseres to which I replied No there’s only one Juan Caseres, I could have shouted it out but I don’t think the locals would understand.

So here it is for your enjoyment

Again ready to leave he played a mixed Vals tanda starting with Puliese Desde de Alma. Again I could not leave. So we stayed later than ever, out staying many locals who have cars to drive home in.

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In The Dark Ages

So for once I got up early and to add to my woes; no lift, no water, no internet, we now have no electricity either. Well done Edisur on the installation of the new transformer last month. Along with another neighbor we harassed the stand in portero and found out that the locker for the water tap outside is not actually locked. So I fetched two buckets and filled them. Shame I could not do this yesterday when we had a lift. I also bought some more drinking water from the almacen where it is actually cheaper than the chino.

Well boredom gave me a chance to wash up, but it was difficult with only a little water. Boiling water on the stove, sort of restricted the depth I could have in the bowl. Still most, if not all was to Viv’s satisfaction.

We went out for breakfast, a sticky factura and coffee at a confiteria on Medrano that Viv had been raving about. It was nice coffee and so were the pastries, and not as expensive as I thought they might be.

We saw them working on the power on the next block so we lived in hope. Sure enough by the time I had topped up my phone the power came back on. So we can use the coffee machine kettle and air conditioner, but the lift is still out, and we still have no water. The lift is not a great problem on its own, but with the need to carry water it is a pain, and we have to have a standing wash again today.

My hair is due for a cut, I may have to have a wash and blow dry just to get it clean.

Well we had a great time at El Arranque. I did find that many of my regulars were not there though. The cat lady was, and as there is shall we say an older crowd it put me in with a good chance, I managed to get two dances with her. Irwin was, as always, exceptional but I have just noticed I was not on his video, I will have to sanction him.

We asked Philippe if he wanted to join us later, but because of internet problems we left him little time and unfortunately he never got back to us. So we went on our own to El Rey Peruvian restaurant.  We got half a chicken a plate full of salad and a shed load of chips for less than a tenner, the beer pushed the price to £15 but with a pile of nibbles to start, there is no point complaining.

We left there full to bursting and walked up Corrientes. We came across the Carnival (Murga) for the first time this year. Because we normally get off the subte at Medrano we miss it. We stood for a while watching the antics and getting covered in spray before leaving to get some well earned ice cream.

When we got back the lift was working, and the water was on. You do not realize how much you depend on clean tap water until you lose it.


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No Hay agua

Woke up this morning to no water. No hot, no cold, nothing. We had our usual porridge but we were desperate for coffee. It cost me 47$ar for a big bottle of water. Why, on earth people buy this stuff when there is perfectly good stuff in the taps I will never know. Today though there was nothing in the taps, so pay I must.

On the way back I checked in the basement, somebody was working down there, but I could not find them. Our porter is on holiday at the moment and we have a locum, but only until 12o’clock. What this means for our water supply I have yet to find out. One of the neighbors rang my bell asking if I had water, it was now quarter past one. She said that the porter would not be downstairs as he finishes at twelve. She then lost patience with my poor Spanish and tried next door.  My Spanish skills still make it difficult for me here, but as we have had no water, to my knowledge, since nine, you would think that she would have complained earlier. Someone needs to contact the administrator, not me, I could not even get her to receive my expensas. I live in hope that somebody has done it.

El beso today had lost some of its magic. I’m not quite sure how, but something was not there. Viv struggled for dances and was soon getting fed up. I had some good dances with some of my regulars but some of the others seemed reluctant to dance. I got up for what I thought was a cabeceo from the Cat lady, but she danced with someone else. Luckily I was saved by the pretty little lady from El Arranque.

The floor was always over crowded and I noticed a significant difference in dancers. Most people, like me would dance into space, while the less experienced would just hesitate and move very little. I can sympathize here, I have been there myself. What I noticed though was the bigger guys just barged through. It is annoying for the other dancers, but I wonder how the ladies feel, being used as a battering ram.

We were both tired and soon fed up so we beat a retreat. We walked up Corrientes and found a bar. It took us some time to be understood, but it turned out that they did not have stout. We found no other bars, so we dropped down into the subte at Uruguay came up again at Medrano and went into Pachi for some beer. Even this did not meet with Viv’s approval, they gave us olives with it instead of peanuts, she was not a happy bunny.

We returned to our building to find the lights off downstairs, the lift not working and the internet down. Of course we still had no water either.  Fed up does not begin to describe how I feel.



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