Category Archives: Argentina

My thoughts on Argentina and my time there

Meet up at Sullivan’s

Saturday night is Los Consegrados. Funny how as we near the end and we start to care less, everything suddenly gets better. We danced on and on, staying later than ever. My problem was trying to get a dance with all the ladies who were expecting me. Then there were all the Brazilians and of course those who had promised to meet me in Rio. They were essential dances.

It was well past eight when we left and headed off to Alcala for our Bife de Chorizo, We managed to get through two litres of beer and stayed on for the act. Viv was not best pleased when the act came on and they left the football on the TV.  When I saw her march over to the bar, I knew she was on a mission. No resisting the Welsh witch the TV was soon turned off.

We left after dancing a meringue on a very crowded floor. We ran up quite a bill tonight it was £15, at this rate, if we stayed much longer, it could get expensive.

In the morning we went to Sullivan’s for bacon and egg. We had met the waiter from here in a drunken state earlier in the week. We promised to come and say goodbye. I guess in his drunken state he had forgotten it was his birthday and he had the day off. We were going to meet Perry as well, but he was unwell. Still we did meet up with Les and Ann, and also Lucy and her husband Tony. We only intended a short hello, but actually stayed three hours.

On our way back I was stopped again by Charlie The Cat asking for directions (if you are too young to remember look it up on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVOMK6YD6fw). “Perdon” I said, she gave me one of those, Oh it’s a stupid foreigner looks, and went off in a huff. Not many locals know these streets as well a me, it was her loss.

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Local Knowledge

I have one small job today, to take Les’s sube card. Normally I would walk, but after last nights excesses I am too tired. I already have 5,000 steps in for the day before I get up. Outside of our building there is a 151, it has passed the stop but is stopped at the lights. I raise my hand, more in hope than expectation, but he opens the door for me anyway. I have pre explored this area, but I still get it wrong and have to backtrack twice until I find the hotel.  The girl was very helpful ( she never replied in English, although I suspect she could) even gave me a note to leave.

Mission accomplished it was time to return. I had not checked the colectivos, getting a bit over confident here. I knew that they ran back along Colonel Niceto Vega so I crossed the road looking for a stop. Passed the railway and there was a 168 coming. There was a lady at the stop so no panic. I jumped on and said “a Medrano”. Now the driver said nothing just charged me $20. I realized my mistake when the bus turned up Pringles. I had quite forgotten that there are two 168. They may look the same but follow different routes. Years ago I had caught the wrong one and ended up at the depot. At least I knew where I was here. I pressed the buzzer as we left Rocomorra. It was not too bad in the end, I got off at Pringles y Guardia Vieja which was five blocks away instead of two. Then I remembered Viv had asked me to get something to eat, so I diverted another two blocks to Augustus for some Medialunas.

Friday is El Beso again. Same old with the seats, but at least with Zoraida here she found a decent seat for Viv. I have my usual seat under the mirror, but even here, two tables are reserved and I am not exactly where I like to be. I was, of course off like a shot once I had my shoes on. Although I am tired after yesterday, and missing any tanda I did not like the sound of. At least for a while, then a couple of  missed cabeceo meant I would promise the next dance to someone, and I even danced Pugliese.

It was hard dancing, too many on the floor and no floor craft, so I was soon tired. Then Viv was getting bored, so it was time to leave. We had our usual promo at The Coffee Store, and soon we saw everyone was leaving. I wonder sometimes if we should stay, maybe the dancing gets better later.

We had a list of things to buy for the trip home so we stopped at Farmacity. Got most of what we wanted except for soap dishes. Well we stopped at Petish and got just the thing, then La Riena for some scones and we were still in time for El Bosque. With good local knowledge now we get things done quickly, but Viv was in a hurry. She rushed out and I never got a chance to say goodbye to our shoe man

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Too many goodbyes.

You gotta love this place. We went to Comme Il Faut this morning, but I gave strict instructions to Viv not to let me forget my trousers. The trip was successful, Viv even managed a sale pair.

We headed back all the time I was making sure I remembered my trousers. We arrived there just after one, the guy has a lunch “hour” 12:30 until 3:00.  I thought I would check El Bosque to see if it was open, it too has a long lunch time. Makes you wonder how anyone does business here.

I managed to get out again before we left for the milonga. El bosque was open and he could get the shoes done this week. He did a really good repair on the other strap, you can hardly tell it was broken. Now he will do this one as well, and he will do it by Friday so we will have the shoes ready for next time we are here. All for 0nly$150. I picked up my trousers as well, and he threw in a hanger. One pair repaired and one pair shortened $300. That is a good deal of repairs for less than a fiver.

It’s Wednesday so it is Salon Canning. This will be our last visit this trip so I make a resolution to dance with at least one of the women that have avoided me. Well I failed with one, she left before I could get to her. Thee second I was failing every time I tried to cabeceo, then as the evening wore on she was left sitting. She was still not looking my way, but faint heart never won fair lady I walked over and said ” I know it is breaking all the rules, but will you dance with me?” Well it worked and she seemed quite pleased. I think that I now have another lady to dance with.

On those lines, there was another lady who, it seems, has been trying to get a dance with me. Numbers being so low, she was the only woman left. I know that sounds bad, but sometimes that is what it takes. Viv has been in the same situation. Anyway, this lady also comes to Chique, so I may see her again Thursday.

We said goodbye to Erwin, and thanked him for the music, we will not see him again before we go. Then we said goodbye to Montenegro, our waitress here.

We had our regular trip to The Taco Box again. We don’t even get the menu any more, we just ask for the usual, that includes the beer. Our waitress was showing another the ropes and teaching her the English words for things. When we left we said Goodbye to her as well, Everyone seems surprised when we say we are going home, we seem to have been here forever. That, I suppose, is the advantage of  becoming regulars.

Afterwards we walked back along Gascon and crossing the road at Honduras was the guy from Sullivan’s bar. He was really pleased to see us, but gutted that we are going home. He told us that he lives near to us, but he was having trouble because he was the worse for drink. We had to promise him we would come and see him Sunday. My appointments diary is getting very full. I love the fact that we meet people as we walk around here, and everyone is so glad to see us.

We stopped at Chioco to find out what time it closed. We intended to have an ice cream there tomorrow. But, what the hell, you only live once, so we stopped for one now. It was a nice end to the night.

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Crazy foreigners.

This morning I dragged kicking and screaming to the Nike outlet store. We had to take the subte and there was train just coming in. there are only two turnstiles here and there was a very fat woman with kids and pushchairs not making a great effort to get out of the way. Viv tried the other turnstile until I pointed out that there was a belt fastened across it. So I crashed the emergency exit and dragged her through. Using the subte without paying is something of a custom here. It is not something I do, but a few times I have paid and not got a journey, so I have a clear conscience.

Viv bought herself some shoes, then dragged me over to the men’s section. It seems it was only a ploy to get me there. So now I have new trainers as well as new dance shoes for the cruise.

El Abrazo was as crowded as ever today. There was the usual bunch of tourists who have been brought just to ogle. You would think that the tour guides would explain just a little to them, before they come crashing onto the floor.  All in all I had a good time, but when the crashing starts it is impossible for me to protect the lady I am dancing with. I feel it is my fault when the lady I am dancing with gets speared by another set of heels. The afternoon is spoiled by the bad dancers and reverse movers, but at least, non of my ladies blamed me.

Viv left early again as she still has this cough. I told her to just order one coffee. When I arrived at The Coffee Store she had only just got her coffee again. The girl there thinks it is quite funny, Viv always orders a cafe con leche, then as soon as it arrives so do I and order another and some medialunas.  Viv had been talking in the toilets and heard the sorteo. I said that she must have known then I would soon be out.

We walked back and ate at Imaginario bar again. The staff here are getting to know us now and we get good service. Crazy foreigners who eat early, drink black beer and leave.

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No beef in the land of cattle

Getting beef in this land of cattle, is becoming increasingly difficult. I wanted a kilo of mince, and our local butcher said “mas tarde” so I tried the chino two doors away. The butcher there was shut up. The chino opposite us had non. So I returned home without, because I had a bag full of shopping and was being looked on suspiciously in the chinos.

I left again without my shopping to try elsewhere. What I did notice is that there are increasing numbers of Tiendas Granjas. Don’t bother to translate, it translates as farm stores, which is not what they are. They sell chicken, whole, breasts,legs, and whatever bits you might want. I wanted minced beef. Last time we had this problem we had stopped at a place on Gascon, it was expensive, but needs must. So I went there, inside there was no sign of mince. “Hay picada?” I asked “Picarda Carne?” he replied “Si un kilo”  “Si” Now as I said there was no sign of it there, but he took what looked to me the leanest steak I have seen, trimmed any remaining fat off it and put it in the mincer. This was all good stuff. He weighed it out and it was just over a kilo. He picked some out and put it into his hand until it weighed exactly a kilo. Once it weighed the correct amount, he threw what was in his hand back into the bag. Like I said it is dear here, cost me $400ar, but let’s put this into perspective, that is £4, and it was slightly more than I paid for.

Nuevo Chique never fails.  Today there was a shortage of women, this meant that occasionally I was stuck, but I have a few old favourites that will always dance with me. For Viv there was no such problems, she was up every tanda. I only missed two, Pugliese and Biagi. and thereby hangs a tale; Viv always dances Pugliese with Miguel, who incidentally hates Biagi. So when a strong beat started, Viv got up with Miguel. I never even gave it a thought, I just headed for the toilets to freshen up. I was out in the corridor before I realized that it was not Pugliese but Biagi.

When I got back, cursing, it was all my fault, of course. I should have told her. Well in the course of four hours one missed tanda is not the end of the world. Next tanda was a Vals, and this was followed by, you guessed it Pugliese. So she danced again with Miguel.

I had a pile of raffle tickets by the time the sorteo came. I failed to win the champagne, I failed to win the chocolates, I even failed to win any discount vouchers, but my number came up for two free entradas for Caminito milonga Saturday night. I did not respond, and let someone else have it, who may actually want it.

We retired to Congreso Plaza Pizzeria for a coffee and medialuna. I fancied the tostada again, but Viv was not for that, she wanted us to save ourselves for her pasta later.

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When You walk through the Storm, hold your umbrella high.

I think I have missed a day. I suppose my reports are getting a bit samey now So I will just tell you about the rain yesterday; We knew it would rain later when we came home so I went prepared. Viv had decided that my umbrella was like weapon and I should take another from the huge assortment we have accumulated. Anyway Viv soon got bored with El Beso and being in the wrong seat, although after the initial set of tandas she did rather well. Just then they did the sorteo then a singer came on. So I thought I would leave as well. I should have stuck it out there was a good tanda on next, La Juan D’Arienzo, I think. I was halfway down the stairs so was not coming back.

At the door there was a crowd, some having a smoke, some waiting for a bus, others just sheltering. I pushed through and tried to open my umbrella. It was a disaster of spokes and broken plastic spindles. I wore it like a hat over to The Coffee Store. Inside the girl took it off me and tried to put it in a bucket with the others, but it refused to fold.

We decided to take the subte home, to save getting too wet. I managed to find a way of holding the umbrella open by holding it high on the shaft, once I had somewhere with a bit of space. I also folded it, after a fashion, in the subte entrance.

Back at casa Bob, I tried to give it away, but, it seems no one wants a broken umbrella even in a Buenos Aires storm. I left it in the bin on the stairs.

I think we are down to four umbrellas now. Lesson learned, test your brolly before you leave.

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Nu shoos

Great news this morning; my house has been broken in to. The police are doing a great job, they already have one of the guys, I will not let it worry me, I will deal with it when I get home.

Nothing for it but some retail therapy. Our first stop was a sports wear shop. It all looked a bit expensive and not really us. So we moved on to Sweet Victoria. I buy my underpants here and always have a good chat with the lady. They only had three pair in my size, so I bought them. Easy to please, that’s me. Meanwhile the girl was doing her best sales technique on Viv. She managed to get her to try a sports top. It looked good but “you need the matching leggings”. So she tried them on then another top. So while I spent $1500 on what I actually came out for Viv spent $4500 on something she did not intend.

We moved on to DNI. When we got there, there was no sign of life. The guy in the cafe said it opened at twelve. So rather than walk home (only a block away) we stopped for a coffee and cookie.

I managed to find some shoes for me, so that is me set up for cruising. Not my usual style, do you think it will make me a better dancer?

Off to Los consegrados again today. It looks like the numbers are down again but I am doing pretty well. Viv however was not. I tried to dance with her a few times but she was not happy and by seven she’d had enough. I did another milonga with a lady from Uruguay and then joined her in the foyer.

So we took the subte to Bolivar and changed onto the D line getting off at Scalabrini. From there we walked to 1810. We thought we would try something different this time, so we ordered a five ingredient salad and their version of cottage pie. It was very good, but I am struggling with my teeth at the moment and it took the enjoyment away for me.

On the walk home we passed another Murga session in Parque Latinoamerica. It just sounds like noise to me, but the locals seem to enjoy it. Then it was home to watch another film.

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Show them real tango, do a lesson on the pista.

I was not in the best of moods today. I think we have been over doing it of late and I am tired and headache.  Still there are things to do.

I have to take Viv’s shoes to el Bosque to have the strap repaired. El Bosque is closed for holidays. This is not going well today. Next I went for some milk and washing up liquid, nearly collided with the guy stocking the shelves and someone else shopping. So I rushed back to our building. As I entered my phone rang. Nobody phones me here so I was busy checking who it was before I answer. It was, of course, withheld number. Then disaster, whilst checking my phone the door had shut. Now you cannot open doors here from either side without a key, and my key was in the lock, outside. I frantically knocked on the glass and some kind lady realized what had happened and opened the door for me. Meanwhile, her dog, taking advantage of the situation, decided to explore the building.

When calm was restored, I decided I needed a lie down, even though I had been up less than two hours.

At El Beso today numbers were lower, but it was not helping us. It was the regulars that were missing. Two tour leaders arrived and in the course of showing them The Real Tango proceeded to give lessons on the milonga floor. I am glad we came earlier this time, we are entering the silly season where good dancing is hard to come by. Viv may have struggled not having her regulars here, but I struggled because all the tourists did not know to sit down when the cortina was on. There was nothing for it but to walk around myself, adding to the chaos, but at least, I got dances.

Gloria Garcia was here today. She of La Susheta (Salon Dandi) and Maipu 444. It was lovely to meet her again and to dance. It was a shame Viv got fed up and we left early, I would have liked another dance.

The Dutch were also there, so I had Eli and Ada to dance with, whilst giving me Dutch lessons. Lord knows I struggle enough with Spanish, but at least some Dutch is in my DNA so I am in with a chance. I can, at least swear with the best of them.

Then it was off to The Coffee Store again for two promotions. If all else fails coffee and medialunas it is.

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All the Crazies

We arrived early today at Nuevo Chique. It gave Viv time to change, meanwhile I settled in my seat. It looks like there are not a lot of regulars here tonight. Although I managed to get enough dances Viv struggled. The guy who plays games told Marcella he adored Viv, but still he did not dance with her.

The place was full of crazies today. The floor was far from full but still it was almost impossible not to crash. There was a  couple dancing in promenade and just charging around the place and there were several others who completely lacked floor craft. For me the icing on the cake was when the guy I had an altercation with last year appeared.  He seemed to recognize me and kept his distance, but other people were avoiding him as well. This meant that there was less floor for the rest of us. Add to that the space taken up by the promenaders and it was a difficult time.

I was approached by one lady who said she was trying to cabeceo me. I said I would dance with her later but she never seemed to be looking my way.  I did manage to get her just before we left, but it cost me some tandas. I have learned not to try for too long if a lady does not look my way, I should have remembered tonight.

It seems non of the good dancers were here tonight Viv struggled all night and left just before the sorteo. I stayed, but had no luck.

We intended going home for omelette tonight, but the night being what it was, we retired instead to HB for a steak sandwich and some black beer.

 

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Quiet at Canning.

Salon Canning was all but deserted when we arrived today. There was one English couple there, and Erwin had not yet started the music. When he did start a few men had arrived but few women, and for the first two hours there were more men than women. This was, of course good for the women, and many would say ” welcome to my world” but Wednesday is a sort of rest day for me so I sat out every other tanda, and just enjoyed the music.

A few of my favourites got more than one tanda today, and some more than two. I danced with a lady I have not danced with before, I have seen her here every year, and had always thought her a bit miserable, but it was a very good dance. Just shows you should not pre judge. I will definitely dance with her again. (unless,of course she thought  was a bad dancer).

Christine and Barry arrived before six and joined us at our table. They gave us some extra dances but also a distraction. As I said though I like a rest on Wednesday. So we had a quiet, but enjoyable afternoon.

Afterwards we went again to The Taco Box for Fajita mix. I could not convince Christine to come, she does not like Mexican, it seems. We did not stay long as Walter was coming. So we ate and ran. Walter did not stay long either, he had been working and needed a shower.

So we watched another film and had another early night.

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