Monthly Archives: January 2020

Cheerful Leo

A few little shopping jobs today. First stop is Amankay for some Atrix (Atrixo). It is always a bit dear here so I will not come again, but it was nice to meet Bruno again. There was no sign of him when I went in, so I asked where he was. He was tucked on a shelf behind the counter hiding. I suppose he gets fed up of all the attention.

Cheerful Leo was on the till in the Chino. When you think his livelihood depends on his customers, you think he might be more pleasant. The only time I have seen him smile is when I bumped into him in Chinatown.

The demolition up the road continues, Fred Dibnah would have had it down in a day. but we just get the constant banging. Our neighbor has finally left, the apartment looks forlorn from the road. Maybe she had had enough of the banging.

On the way today, the streets somehow seemed cleaner. Whether that is an illusion or they have been cleaned in preparation for the murga I do not know. We have not had that much rain lately and it was quite blowy yesterday, so it is unlikely they just cleaned themselves. Or just maybe we have stopped noticing the dirt.

It is Thursday so Nuevo Chique again. I missed one tanda early on when I double cabeceod. That was it. Viv was having the same experience. So tonight is the sorteo for the shoes and I had a load of tickets. We tried really, but after four hours we hit the wall. It would have been only another half hour, but it just was not going to happen. We simply do not have the stamina.

So we left and went to La Continental again. Cafe and Medialunas it was then. Then our 151 took us right to the door again.

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Coffee crisis

We went out to Petish Bazar this morning (It’s a general household ware shop) for some plates. We have the bowls and are happy with them. They are supposed to be unbreakable so we wanted some plates as well.

Four large and four small just over £20, but hopefully we will not need to buy again. When we got home two of the small plates were chipped. Unbreakable, ha. Muggins here gets all the good jobs, I had to take them back. The guy in the shop was no problem but I checked every plate. I took two plates to the counter and another damaged one. I wrapped my plates showed them to him, he said “Dale” and that was it. Don’t know what I was worried about. He did not clear the security tags though, the alarm went off as I walked out. I looked around and no one took a blind bit of notice, so I just carried on out of the shop.

Salon Canning was very quiet today. We get tired so Wednesday we do not mind a quiet milonga. That said we never actually missed a tanda. We did only stay two and a half hours once the rock and roll came on it was time to go. We needed coffee anyway, we had no milk in the flat so came out on low coffee. We walked to the end of Scalabrini and Cafe Artaud. It cost us more for two coffees than it did last week for two pints, but hey this is Buenos Aires.

Afterwards we had some things to get in Farmacity then it was down to The Taco Box again. Two pints of red beer and mixed tacos, just the job. Our usual little girl is back as well.  I did think to ask where she was last week, but the answer would only baffle me.

One last stop on the way home, buy some milk, so that Viv can have her coffee.

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Four into 237 don’t go

There seems to be a lot of fire around lately. There is a kitchen supplies shop on the corner of Medrano y Corrientes, it seems to have suffered some fire damage. As I walked around the corner the pavement was roped off. At the last window was some rather drastic fire damage. It looks to me like one of the street people were there and all their stuff burned. Whether this was accidental or malicious is hard to tell, although I would say from the amount of damage some accelerant was used. The mattress was nothing more than a wire frame and the shop window was totally destroyed.

Walter came this morning and we have finality for next year.  Every year he has to pay me more and every year it is worth less to me, such is life with hyper inflation. Still he is a good tenant and popular with the neighbors. Better still he left beer.

Nuevo Chique again excelled. Four hours and neither of us missed a tanda until nearly the end, and that was because we were exhausted. There were some new ladies arrived but I was in no physical state to do the music justice.

We went over to La Continental Av de Mayo for a change. The media lunas we had on Congreso were not good so we thought we would try here. Turns out they had non, they had run out. So we had a factura instead. Now the price on the door for coffee and a media ulna was $100. When we asked for the bill it was $237. How does that work? apart from everything else two coffees two factura, it should have been an even number. I gave him $250, Viv said that is only $13 tip. I suppose it was but if they are just going to make up the price. In my mind it was $50.

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Fire, fire, fire down below.

They are knocking a building down, two doors away. The apartments have been unoccupied since we have been here, but the shop was a greasy spoon. So now we have the noise every day as they hit the walls with their little hammers. More on this; I managed to get a look through the steel doors they have erected, today. I noticed that they have started knocking through the floor, so that as they knock down the top, the rubble will fall to the basement and they have to carry it up again. As always, there is the simple way, and then there is the Argentine way.

On our trip to Palermo I sat outside a shop while Viv browsed.  On the seat was an Italian lady, who spoke no Spanish or English, but somehow she conveyed that she was here to play golf for two months. We talked for fifteen minutes or so and despite everything managed to understand each other. The one thing I could not get her to understand was that we were going back by boat, and it is an Italian boat.

We had some excitement here last night; as we sat on the balcon eating our bife de lomo, a fire engine screamed past. It turned into Guardia vieja and stopped on the next block. I thought I could smell burning, and this confirmed it. Next came an ambulance and was followed by the Police. A few cars were redirected but they never actually closed the road. I could see little of what was going on as it was on the same side of the road as us. In the morning I went to investigate and there was no sign of anything amiss. There is however a sort of subway covered in grating that is full of cables, I think it is something to do with the Subte, although at two blocks away, I could well be wrong.  Anyway this morning there was a barrier around it. The smell last night did seem electrical to my trained nose. Like all things that go on here, I guess we will never know for sure.

I thought that the painters had finished, but this morning we have a man hanging around outside our window again. I did think of running out with a manic grin and a knife, but Viv stopped me. I was only half threatening, if I was hanging on a rope and someone came with a knife to cut it, I don’t suppose I would be that amused.

Off to El Beso again today. We arrived early so that Viv got a better seat and I got my usual. She was still not happy though, there were a lot of women. That said it was not that easy for me either. Still we stayed until Viv left at five thirty and I stopped until the cumbia came on at just after six. Viv had finished her coffee and I ordered another for me.

It was going to be one of those days, it seems. I waited and waited but my coffee never came. In the end I told Viv to pay and we would go. Viv gave the girl$200, more than enough for her coffee and croissants, but she was not happy. We pointed to the one cup and the penny dropped. I was not about to pay for coffee that never came.

We are at a loss where to go tonight, our usual Imaginario Bar, is closed for holidays so we decided to try El Simbolo. Somebody in the milonga had recommended it, although Viv remembered it as a rather dirty place.

It did not start well. Viv needed the toilet and it was not signed up. While she was gone the guy came for our order. “Dos Revueltos” I said “No entiendo” said he. I tried various ways of saying it, nothing worked. In the end Viv asked for two omelette. Then I tried beer, well I am sure they had black beer in the past but not today. Now flustered I ordered Rubia, forgetting again that is blond. We were still arguing about the revueltos and I had an inspiration, I walked outside and got the blackboard with Revuelto $280 and pointed it to the guy.  “Ya no lo hacemos” he said, we don’t do it anymore.

So instead of Black beer and revueltos we got blond beer and a rather disgusting omelette barely cooked and full of shells. To add to our woes we watched him sneeze into his hands handle money and smoke. No sign of hand washing or any kind of sterilizing.  If you do not hear from me again you know why. If we survive I will definitely put this place on our do not go again list. One more thing, he served Viv with her omelette then wet off to cook mine. Seems he is incapable of doing two meals at once.

Well hopefully a good day tomorrow.

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Freezing in the summer heat.

Not a lot going on today until we went to Los Consegrados. Now I am lucky I have Vicky she lets me have my seat and serves me quickly. Viv is on the other side of the room and has a useless girl, she keeps moving her and does not bring her a drink for half an hour. Viv is moved to a place where she cannot see any men and I have to keep dancing with her, because she is getting no dances.  Fair dos she sticks it out until after seven, but she pays exactly for her drink and leaves no tip when we leave. The seat in front of her is still vacant at the end and Viv occupies it for a short while. The girl needs to realize that we come here more than some of the locals. it is fine keeping seats for regulars, she just needs to know who they are.

I had a conversation with one lady about the weather. (OK everyone talks about the weather) she said that this heat was exceptional. I said to the Argentines every year is exceptional. I remember 2008 when we had to look for shade to get across the road. She said they are from Italian stock and complain about everything.

Anyway I got lots of dances, but was happy to leave when Viv was ready. I think she will sit at the top end next week, where Vicky serves.

We left at just before eight and took the subte home.  We left the subte at Medrano and decided to try Imperio. It looks expensive but worth a try at today’s exchange rates. It was so long ago, I cannot remember the place that was here before. They knocked it down and built this place, then took about four years to open it.We walked in and got a menu, and it was expensive, but we could cope. The air conditioning was ridiculous, people were complaining and some going elsewhere. Viv was wrapping her cardigan tighter around herself. Before we had ordered I said that there was no point in sitting here freezing. So we got up and left, I said to the waiter “hace frio” he just smiled and agreed. I can see this place having a long and successful life.

We went then to Pachi. Aircon set to twenty four degrees and it was just fine. We had a couple of sandwich completa, which basically means they have chips and some salad and cheese on them.  Viv had lomo and I had hamburguesa, Imperial stout and a waiter determined to speak all the English he knows,

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I had been worried for some time what would happen if Viv dropped the iron onto our ceramic floor. I need worry no more, she dropped it yesterday. It fell right onto the point. These tiles must be good, there is no sign of a crack. The iron, though, did not fare so well. The plate has cracked across the top. Surprisingly, it still works, but it now catches on some of the clothes. So we must look for a new one today. Then we had a change of plan, it seems, tomorrow we must look for an iron.

El Abrazo was busy today, it made it difficult to get dances, but there was a plethora of women. So that even if I struggled, I got a dance in the end. It was not so for Viv, so many women so little time. By five thirty Viv had enough, another case of basta la plancha. She told me to carry on, she would be at The Coffee Store reading. After another three tandas, then the silly stuff came on, so I was out of there as well.

We had some media lunas and coffee and then headed home. We stopped for some prunes and then decided to look for that iron. In Casa del Audio they had a pink one, Phillips at about £30. That would do nicely so we asked the guy, he brought it up on his computer and gave us a number to go to the desk. Now there is a certain kind of stupidity here, you need DNI, which I do not have. She said “passport” which I did not have with me. She said you should always carry it in case the police stop you, which has happened NEVER in 16 years of coming here. I said the place is full of ladrones, if I lost my passport I could not go home. We left the iron there with another Jobsworth.

Down the road is Fravega, they had the same Iron but £2 more. The guy just put some fictitious details in, we could have given him an address, but after all it was only an Iron. We paid our money, signed the warranty and walked out with an Iron. I felt like taking it to Casa del Audio and doing a Pretty Woman “You people work on commission, don’t you. Big mistake” in the end we just took it home.

We went back to Alcala then, had the Bife de chorizo and black beer. Must be getting old, I never finished my steak or the chips, even left some of the salad. I think it is time for bed.

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Bad news over the interweb

Viv was cleaning the bathroom and decided to try the magnetic window cleaner. Twice she sent me downstairs to retrieve the sponge. She said every time I get to the top the outside piece falls off. There is a security string on it and she had tied it to a tap. I watched as she got to the end of the string and it fell off again.

On one of my trips downstairs I met our neighbor, she arrived with her mother and a load of boxes. I said hello to her mother and left them to use the lift. I used the stairs as there was no room in the lift with all the boxes.

Fortunately this time the sponge stayed attached. So now it was my turn at least I was not loosing it all the time, as I tied it nearer the window, but it just left streaks. Then it fell off again and I decided to go to the chino.

Sebastian was waiting by the door with sponge in hand. He tried to give me instructions on how to clean the windows, I think he has longer arms than me.

When I got back, I tried with the squeegee, Sebastian style. Viv was not happy, she was convinced that I was going to fall out of the window. It was moderately successful, but there are still streaks and I have black marks all the way up my arm.

There were a few more in Nuevo Chique today, but it did not stop the dancing. Neither of us missed a tanda, we danced solid from four until almost eight. It just gets better, unfortunately, I do not. I was flagging considerably by the end and sat out the last tanda. It was just too much and I called time. I think Viv would have carried on, but we paid our bill and left.

La Bruja did it again; last night she said to me “Not seen the dutch girl, the one who sold clothes” So Guess who turned up today in Nuevo Chique? I tell you it is scary how often she does this.

We were tired and hungry so we stopped at Vittorio for a coffee and medialuna. There is no WiFi here but I can pick up a weak signal from across the road. I received a message from home that a friend had died.  It was not totally unexpected, but sad news just the same. We will miss the funeral but sent our thoughts.

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Tarrifa Dos

I only wanted a few things today from the fruit shop. As I entered I was followed by a girl, sort of miniature version of the proprietor and she started to serve me. I guess she must be the daughter. I have never seen her before, and I just thought how cute she was. I suppose that the boss lady is still cute but in a slightly larger way. My total today came to $95 hardly worth the trouble but they are always so cheerful and friendly, I always feel like giving them more.

A guy from the electric company was outside today, well a whole group and a truck with a hoist. They took the pole out opposite us and replaced it with another. It looked a bit rusty and possibly in need of paint, but I could see no good reason to change it. On a side note; because it was rusty looking we had thought it wooden. So the guy working off a fiberglass ladder on live cables, was not actually insulated from earth. He must have thick skin, one jolt at that height and he would be dead.

So, Salon Canning again today. We do not bother arriving on the dot, but even though we were half an hour in it was all but deserted. Pauline and Geoff were there but almost no one we knew. After the excesses of yesterday I was not too bothered. I had a few good dances and later on so did Viv, but afterwards when the rock and roll came on we did a couple of jives and hit the street.

There are a couple of new bars on Lavalleja y Gorriti so we stopped for a beer. It was too early to eat so we had some Porter and a bowl of peanuts. It was only $100 a pint here, and Viv could not understand why I wanted to stay.

Then we walked down Lavalleja to The Taco Box again. The service here is second to non and the food is exceptional. More beer and enough food to stuff two pigs only $1200. You have to patronize a place like this.

Two lots of beer and Viv was getting a bit loud by the time we got back. She saw some nectarines in a shop so we bought two $112. I think we were ripped off, I bought two this morning from our regular shop, a potato and three bananas for $95. Must be tarrifa dos after ten at night. still it is only a pound when all is said and done.

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Murillo, expensive, but not this year.

I am sitting her prevaricating, I need to go to the Coreo to pay the City Tax, ABL, Rentas, whatever you call it. I have had so many issues with the post office that I now hold it in terror. I cannot pay at a Pagofacil as it it too much so I must pay at the Coreo.

Well last year I totally failed, and Walter had to pay monthly. I walked into the post office, no queues and the machine with the numbers was not working. In the words of The Who “Won’t get fooled again” I took one of the paper numbers anyway. Within five minutes I was called, I gave her my number, I gave her the bill, she asked for the money, which I had already counted out. Then I waited until she had put it through, printed my ticket, and I was out of there.

When I got back Viv said ” you are getting too efficient” Well something here is.

Nuevo Chique was very quiet again today. It suits Viv, she had a fantastic time. I sort of ran out of steam at seven but up until then I never sat down either. Many of my old favourites were not there and I had to make new friends, including one lady from Caballito, who was surprised when I said we went to Viejo Coreo. We had a debate about how long ago, but I am sure it was not as long as she said, after all, we definitely went there from our apartment. So it was less than 10 years.

Later people started coming from Champagne Tango, but by then many were leaving and it would fold in an hour or so. Apparently there was a live band on, but we come out in the afternoon to dance. If we want to see a live band we prefer to go at night where we can sit and enjoy. We left thoroughly exhausted, and fortunately did not have to wait long for our bus. We even had a seat.

We decided to go to Murillo tonight, It is a nice place, but expensive. With the exchange rate as it is it is a good time to go. Our average has been about $1000, but here we ran up a bill of $1500.  We had a salad to share, a litre of stout and raviolis each. At last years rates this would have killed us, but now £15 is not so bad for a meal for two.


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Maria’s Birthday at Beso

I had a call from Philippe this morning saying he was coming, then later another saying he was not. So I went to have my hair cut. On the way I passed the building two doors down that they are demolishing. They seem to be removing a lot of materials wood and other fittings. I thought that they would have been long gone, like all things here, this could be a long process.

I walked up to Urban Cut’s he other side of Corrientes. On the window it said men’s cut $180. It has been that price for at least four years to my knowledge. That is less than £2 at today’s rate. I did not expect it to be that now, maybe $500. Still I went in and waited. There was one other man waiting, but the guy was busy with a girl having highlights done. When she was thorougly plastered, he left her to cook and called the other man who was waiting. He wanted grade zero all over, he could have done that at home with a razor, still not for me to question how other people spend their money. I never heard how much he paid nor did I see.

So it was my turn. I told him grade four back and sides and scissor trim on the top. He started silently, I guess he did not know how much I could speak and I am never that good at small talk. Soon however we got onto how cold Europe is, the economy, and the difficulties of living here. All good practice for me and on safe easy subjects. Soon he had finished, asked me if it was short enough, I said it was fine and he told me it was $180. I found it hard to believe, I have been paying this for four years. I gave him $200, last of the big tippers, well that is nearly 20p. I think that maybe next time I should give him more, but worry about seeming like an arrogant foreigner.

When I got back Philippe called again, and he arrived with Walter. I showed them all the improvements I have made and talked with Walter about next year, and then they left again. We are always on a year to year basis, but I think we will have plenty of notice if Walter does not want to stay. If that happens, I think we will just come back again in the spring.

Off to El Beso again today. Many of the locals are abandoning it because it is not Ellie. Same DJ, same venue, same staff. I just do not get it. Anyway we had a great time. Miguel (The waiter) has now taken to leaving me a drink and reserving my spot for me. It is worth tipping well, it seems.

For the first two hours Viv never missed a dance, but then it was time for Maria’s birthday.  Fraid I took the biggest piece of cake. Well I gave everyone else a chance and it had a strawberry on it. Fito took the other piece with a strawberry, so I was left with no choice.

I did a couple of dances with Maria, and every time she filled my glass with Champagne. I think she was trying to get me drunk. She wanted to order some black beer as well, but by then Viv was making moves.  I danced with all my favourites including two with Christina. and many with Teresa. By seven the numbers were dropping and we left for The coffee Store, but not before a Chacarera with Teresa. I think we wowed them.

I did not really want the medialuna with my coffee, I was full up with Cake, but I ate it anyway. It fueled me up for the walk home, supper would be some time later on the balcony.

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