Monthly Archives: February 2018

Lineman for the county

Same old same old, when I got to the post it was all but empty but still not a chance of being served. Oddly there was a queue at window 7. I am not sure what goes on at window 7 but you do not need to take a number. Today there were many without numbers but still only one window 7.

When I got back we retired to the balcon with coffee to watch the linemen putting up another cable. Perched on his ladder the traffic drove past with little interest in the cable that they drove over and then under. The motorbike that came the wrong way up the street on the pavement was also unconcerned about the ladder he missed by inches. No worries, the guy up the ladder had a hard hat on, so all would be well.

Nuevo Chique again today. As I keep saying “You never know what is coming” Today it was not over crowded, but the standard of floorcraft was appalling. Such that you would have thought it packed to the gunnels.  All my favourite ladies were there and for Viv it was similar. We stayed again until eight and apart from when she left to freshen up Viv never missed. Even that is not totally true, after I danced milonga with her she went out and came back halfway through a Pugliese tanda, she danced the last two tracks so technically she did not actually miss it.

We returned to HB again. The service did not match the first time and as I was not feeling on top form I had salad. Still we ate and drank well and all for £20. Treated ourselves to a Snickers bar from the chino in celebration of a good night.

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Another smoky day in Buenos Aires. They say that it is the fires on the pampas, nothing to do with all the pollution they are generating here then.

Two weeks ago Juan announced there would be no milonga today, but under pressure last week he said that despite the strike we would have a milonga. Now having been jaded somewhat by events here, I take nothing for granted. Hoy milonga was still announcing Milonga de Juan for today but still I contacted Juan on Whatsapp, he told me that yes there would be a milonga. So now, prompted into action he announced it on facebook.

So I have Whatsapp, Hoy milonga, and Facebook, so it must be on. So we set out with no plan B. At La Nacional the door was locked with a note “No Milonga Hoy” I did not feel like coming past our place to go to Canning, somehow home  is home and we do not like to just pass. So we walked to El Beso but without any information, and there is no milonga there today.

We retired for a coffee at the bar opposite. We debated what to do and decided to go into town to get Viv some make up.  We have been trying for a while and always managed to arrive when Avon is closed, today we succeeded. Although I did worry when I saw the news on the TV in the bar. The people demonstrating were all around the Obalisco just yards from the shop. Then, on the way home, I went to get my hair cut. So the day was not completely lost.

Lazy afternoon on the balcon then and Viv’s special bolognaise for later.


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H B Hipper Burger

What makes a woman happy? Today it is a visit to Pura Quimica. Just across the road where the take-away was, selling brushes and cleaning chemicals in bulk. We had a bit of a problem with bleach, they call it lavandina here, not what it says in my dictionary. The guy rang his partner up to find out what I wanted, all for $15. Good service. I just hope that at these prices he will still be open next year.

Another Nuevo Chique day today. You never know how it will go, but today was exceptional. We stayed until eight and Viv never missed a Tanda. While I was changing my shoes and getting in the zone, she was already up. When the Pugliese tanda came on, I went to freshen up and sat talking to Maggy, Viv was still dancing. I was looking forward to my burger, but it looked like we would never leave. Second fun conversation of the day, explaining “Taking the mick” in Spanish. It was all Dave Morris’s fault, seems Maggy has been reading your comments about beer. Well done Dave, you are now famous.

It was not like there was a shortage of women, there were a few that I missed dancing with, because, again too many women too little time. Viv though seems to have got it right tonight and was never one of those left with La Plancha. (A saying here “Basta la Plancha” it means enough of the ironing. They say it when they have sat too long in the milonga.)

Eight o’clock came and she hit the wall. time to leave. For about three years now they have been building a huge apartment building on Humahuaca and Bulnes. (For those not paying attention, that is the diagonal opposite corner of the block our building is on) It looks more or less complete now and there is a rather nice burger bar underneath it at street level. We thought that H B was named after the streets it was on, but apparently not Hipper Burger is the name. It was near empty when we arrived, as even though late for us, it is early eating for Argentines. The menu choice was good, although all burgers and the service also was good. The girl who served us spoke English. I have heard the term “Fast food” but never really seen it until now. We had a bottle of Quilmes Negra and we had barely tasted it when the food arrived.

Great food, good price and close, what more could we want. $500 for two burger meals and two litres of stout, £20 for those not paying attention. I think we will be back.

Oh nearly forgot, music from the 80’s, I think we were the only ones in there old enough to remember, but we loved it.

I remember when we moved here, there was nothing around. El Imaginario was there but doing almost no business one day a week nothing else away from Corrientes. Now we have bars and restaurants on every corner and a few in between.  We are still the cheap end, but now very happening, let’s hope the prices do not start to reflect our new status.

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First job of the morning was to get the curtains down (well one for now) to wash. This was washed while I did the daily shop. When I got back we had a call from Sebastian, they would be cutting the power for an hour. I did not know why but we were off out anyway once the curtain was out of the washer.

On our way out I discovered that they were working on the lift, so I went back and asked them to adjust the limits on our floor. It never stops right on station.

We were heading down to town to try to get a few things that we have been short of. We passed a big farmacia close to the station “they won’t have a mirror in there ” said I, but I was wrong. The girl was horrified when she looked in it eight times magnification must be horrific with good eyes, but for Viv, it was just the thing.

We stopped off in Suarez for some coffee and cake, London prices here, but it is only one day. We wandered off along Florida looking for music and trying to remember where Harrods was. We reached our limit at Juan Peron, our indecision must have shown, I heard what I though was someone giving Viv a slap on the back. I checked my pockets Viv still had her bag, I still had my wallet, the assailant had vanished along with her gold chain. Viv had been warned so often about her chain, but as they say “familiarity breeds contempt” sixteen visits here and we have never had anything stolen. A few attempts, but then this guy was slick, I never even saw him.

We talked to a couple who said we should report it to the police, “but what is the point?” “for your holiday insurance” they said. Well we have none as technically we are not actually on holiday, anyway, insurance would have cost me more than the chains value. We are often warned about dangerous areas, but it is always the “tourist” areas where we have problems.

We headed off to Galerias Pacificos for a consolation Ice cream. Too late to do anything now, just accept our loss. I never managed to get any music either.


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Is there a War on?

Sometimes you just wonder, our favourite dietetica has now been open for two weeks. Plenty of time to stock up, you would think. However they only had 1kg of extra fine oats, no instant or any other oats. Now for the prunes, no, not until Monday. This is Argentine time, Monday could be August.

Then it was round to my favourite verduraria, completely shut up. At least the Chinese are always open. Viv says we need to get more food stamps, she may be right.

We have good days and bad. This was not one of the good. When we arrived at Beso Vivs usual seat was taken and there was a whole row of tourists there. She had to sit by me for a while, even after she moved it was poor fishing. I moved later to allow room for a couple, but as there were too many women it did not give me a problem.

The dancing was not good either, while the floor looked less crowded, the new intake were mainly non tango dancers. So they would come onto the floor shuffle around and be totally unable to use the space.  There was much bumping and treading on feet.

We said goodbye to Maria today as well, she flies home tomorrow. Over the next week quite a few of our friends will be leaving us. We will not be going yet though, they will have to put up with us a few more weeks yet.

We left early for some Quilmes Stout. The answer to all problems.

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An expensive day

There was some things we needed that we could only get from Jumbo, so I was dragged kicking and screaming by Viv off to the supermarket. We soon found the vacuum cleaner bags with the help of an assistant. They rearrange supermarkets here just like at home, to confuse the shoppers. Then we found the multi packs of soap, Viv had sent me out last night, but confused by choice, I came back with beer. We soon had everything we came in for, checked the milk, but it was cheaper in the chino and less distance to carry.

Jumbo was all but empty, but still we waited in the checkout queue, there is no such thing as Argentine service.

Viv decided she wanted to walk down Corrientes and as she is now getting a feel for the place I asked her which way. She knew, but for some reason always thinks we are on Humahuaca, so she was a block out. Still she is getting better. We had been busy talking earlier and a guy had asked me for Gascon, I had forgotten where I was so for a moment I was unsure, so I have no room to criticize.

We found a new shop and just walked in for a look around. Nice stuff but not a lot in here, then Viv saw a pack of six glasses for $100, we have been paying about $30 each for replacements, too good to pass up. Then in another shop we found some tea light dishes. Viv was obviously in the mood for spending.

I hatched a plan, we turned down Medrano and called into “Decorar” our favourite furniture shop. I had seen a chair I wanted, and as Viv was in the mood for spending, well it was too good an opportunity to miss. There is a rule for fives in Spanish sin, quin, sin, quin, basically Five, Fifteen, Fifty, Five hundred, cinco, quince, cincuenta, quinientos. For some reason even after all these years I get myself in a mess with fives. I wanted to leave a deposit of $500 but had no end of trouble getting her to understand and this time it was not just the accent. By the time we had finished though we were having quite a good conversation. Let Viv with her “No hablo espanol” not fool you, she held her own admirably.

Having spent a week’s money in less than two hours, it was time for coffee.

Later and we are off to Nuevo Chique, again not expecting much as the Carnival fever is still with us. As we expected, the numbers were up and standards down. So much so that Viv demolished a table, obviously not her fault but the man driving. He did go back to sort it out though.

What we did not expect was that people were here to dance. Three and a half hours and neither of us missed a tanda, it was just non-stop.

Exhausted, we walked over to Cervantes for some food. I remember last time having a right royal feast here, somehow this time it was not quite the same. That said, we left fully satiated, but they do not have stout, and, well, lager is just not the same.

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When the room dances as one

Numbers are up everywhere, but this is not too great a problem at Milonga de Juan. This has to have been one of our best days yet. We left early, not because we were fed up or bored, but because we could not keep it up. Viv got dances with men she has been after since we arrived as well as some she has been after for years.

We arrived early as always, the early birds, and all that.  Still as it got crowded we were still doing well. We danced right through without a break, even doing the chacarera.  What did not go so well was the floorcraft. I managed most of the time to avoid crashes but could not completely avoid the side impacts and shunts.

I think it came home to me most in Nuevo Chique yesterday. The ability to dance with the room has been lost. Too many moves learned and too much about showing off. No longer can the room just dance as one.  I remember many years ago when I first experienced this; The room was packed, yet we all moved as one, there was no shunting or barging, it was like everyone was in the zone.

Now even the locals complain that there is not “room” to dance. They dance up the middle then crash into people who are in line of dance. Others crash into your back or just stop to do their set pieces without a care for the chaos behind them. I do not know what the answer is, but I suspect there is not one. Respect for others and the ability to move as one is lost never to return.  Some day there will be no one left who can remember that special feeling of when the room dances as one.

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They talk funny here

I pride myself on knowing the streets around here, so when a car stopped us in Humahaca I was more than willing to help. The problem was I have just never heard of San Suarez. They drove off, probably thinking “Stupid Extranjeros”. It bothered me though and I kept turning it over in my mind, I had to have miss heard. Then it clicked they wanted ” Jean Juares”. They had asked how many blocks, now I realized that they could not actually make it on this road, The Abasto centre is in the way, depending on what number they want, the one way system will lead them a merry chase.

Club Fulgor was always packed out for Carnival. Tonight there were a few new people, but never more than about two dozen. Elsa did us proud though, supplying hats and masks and even a foam Tie for me. For some reason, even though it was the same crowd, same music, we had a whale of a time. Just like the old days.

After we had donned all our gear I was asked to take their photos, then asked to send them via Watsapp. Well if I had trouble with Jean Juares, it was nothing compared to this. Now however I had time and we actually figured it out. Watsapp and the internet here, well that was a whole new problem.

A table of three arrived later, two men. So Bebe got some extra dances. I thought at first that they were locals I had not yet met, but It turns out that they were American Cabin crew, so their language skills were excellent. Viv wanted to dance with one of them, but they were not playing, yet. I went over to talk and the tall one and the lady were a couple. I mentioned D’Sarli and behold a tanda came on. The lady had changed her shoes and he was disappointed, a chance for me “My wife would love to dance it with you” so off they went. The night was closing though and Elsa was collecting her stuff so she never finished the tanda.  Maybe we can get them to Beso tomorrow.

Maria and Pedro

You know who

Bebe and Marian

Bob, Elsa, Maria, Pedro, Front row, Bebe and Marian

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The end of the Revolution

My normal daily shop took me to the local chino then the fruit shop. I was out minutes. When I returned I commented that shopping takes no time here. Viv  commented that “Some shopping” then it occurred to me, The Chinos and the Bolivians, local supermarkets and verdurarias, all run by non Argentines. The big supermarkets and The post office run by Argentines. I make no other comment, other than what I have said in the past about the supermarket queues and Coreo, make your own mind up.

Off to Nuevo chique today, we expected little as people tend to fall off after a bad experience. In fact the numbers were down, but there were some new people and old faces arrived. I danced with some Italians I had never seen before and Viv never missed a tanda. Three and a half solid hours without missing a dance, must be some sort of record. I thought for a while she would never want to leave, but  I guess, enough is enough, and at seven-thirty she was ready for off.

El Revolucionario,  was still closed and I finally got an answer, this is permanent.  The sign over the door says 1977 to 2017 40 years, I guess that this is some sort of marker. Like the first world war veterans the Madres are all dying off and there is little point in prolonging the agony. Such a shame, we loved this place.

So it was down to El Imaginario then. The internal patio was closed, I asked but the guy just said “un Rato” so we decided to stay. Just a bit is a little like manana, you never quite know how long. We had finished our food by the time it opened and we saw quite a few customers deciding not to stay. It was too hot even for me and I struggled with my food. The Patio was nice when we got there but by then we had nearly finished our second bottle of beer and it was time to go.

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Money Day

Time to pick up my monthly money. Every time I go out and deal with any sort of officialdom I have a heavy heart. That said I have never had a problem with Argenper. I walked into the office and typical Wednesday, it was empty, so I never thought to take a number. A woman was picking up a pair of shoes at the front, then she went back to the cash desk. I don’t know what sort of transaction they were doing but the dialog was continuous. Then the guy behind the counter had a polo shirt he was holding up for her, it was starting to look more like a stall in El Once. After what seemed like an age someone came in and took a number, followed soon after by another five. This could cause a problem, as without a number, I was effectively last.  Eventually the second counter called “next” the guy who had taken the first number was quick, but not quick enough, had I missed my turn I would have been here all day.

As I said I have never had a problem here, with Argenpur, always easy and always the right money. Not today though, when I gave Viv her money there was a $50 in there with the 100s.  Not a great loss in the grand scheme of things and I am still up on the last lot of money, but bloody annoying. I have to check every note from now on, and when it is like monopoly money, that can take some time.

You just cannot beat the system here; I walked into the post office, two counters open, no one else waiting, but I took a number anyway. (you don’t get me twice in a day). The girl to my left finished, so I positioned myself ready. She was too busy on her terminal for customers. The girl to my right finished with her customer, so I shuffled right. No luck some one had come in behind me with a parcel. They have priority, it seems. Actually here, every one has priority, children, pregnant women, cripples, men with dogs, Fiat owners, everyone but me. Eventually I did post my letters, but this is getting annoying.

Off to Milonga de Juan again today and as always when we get down on the subte we had just missed a tube. So I decided to try and connect to the subte internet, just because I can. It was not going to happen though, two guys pushed past us to get to the subte map. They were trying to get to Tribunales. I told them to change at Callao onto the “H” line then onto the “D” line. I got an incredulous look from one guy as if to say “but he’s a foreigner” I asked where he wanted to go and he said “Nueve de Julio y Tucuman” so I told him to just stay on this train and get off at Peligrini. Aparently they were not happy with my advice and asked someone else, who told them to get off at Peligrini. Maybe I am not a local but I spend a lot of time down here. Anyway it seems the bigger of the two guys had been asked by the smaller one and he could not help, then we found out that he was a hawker on the train. You would think he would know his way around.

Milonga de Juan was quiet when we arrived but we managed well for dances although it dried up for Viv later. By the time we left it was getting quite busy, but the floor is good and the air conditioning is inbuilt, so we were a lot more comfortable than yesterday.

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