Category Archives: Tango

Back again and inflation bites

The less said about our return flights the better.  I think it is all about cost cutting these days and I shall have to look to a different carrier next year. We are getting twice the amount of pesos to the pound as last year, what that will mean to prices is slowly coming clear.

The airport taxi was the first shock, it was three times the price. Still at a little over £20, I cannot complain, it would cost as much if not more at home.

We returned to Imaginario, again loaded up with money, having no idea what it would cost. We had an omelette each and a bowl of potatoes to share. These are a bit of a speciality here, I wanted the “papas imaginario” but Viv said we should have them with rosemary as there would be less of it. She was, of course, right, we could not finish them, despite being delicious. A bottle of cream stout helped it all go down. We still don’t eat like the locals, I think we were in there less than an hour, but left fully sated. The bill here was a surprise cost me less than $400ar, which if you are paying attention is less than a tenner. Not at all bad to feed and water two people.

Having not slept for nearly 32 hours we crawled off to bed, at the ridiculous time of 9:00 and slept the sleep of the innocent.

I have a pile of bills to pay, so the next morning I am out down to the pagofacil. All the bills are more than last year, but not fully in line with inflation. The city tax is going to be a problem though; there is no annual bill. So I will have to add “paying the city tax each month” to my conditions of rental.

I had a few more things to buy and “Nuevo Escocia” was next on my list. Nuevo Escocia has been my favourite almacen. I had regular banter with the Butcher, the cheese range awesome and the best sliced loaves in these parts. Today I only wanted bread, but all the shutters were down and there is a for sale sign on the building. Odd the way they do things here, because the blackboards are still outside with offers on them. I hold no hope although there is no afterlife for shops here.

My money was again safely delivered by Azimo. I had let myself get worried by stories I had heard, but the office was empty and no  one accosted us. I brought Viv along for security, although what she could do if I was attacked, I don’t know, but I think sometimes you look more vulnerable on your own. I may have been carrying twice as much money as last year, but in truth, it was worth no more. Anyway, as I said, I was worried unnecessarily. No one takes any notice of us here, we are just locals.

Our return to Nuevo Chique gave us some trepidation, again, I don’t know why. It must be something to do with getting older, you just worry more. Marcella welcomed us most warmly, Viv had her usual seat, and I was moved up higher in the pecking order. All afternoon people were hugging and kissing us. At home we started to think, maybe, this is not worth the effort, but when we get here, to this, it makes all the travel and worry, worthwhile. Again, apart from Pugliese, I never sat out a tanda. Never so for the ladies, but Viv had a great time. A slight lull in the middle but she had great dances all afternoon.

I never expected to stay long, it was our first milonga after all. It was 7:30 when we left, three and a half hours is a good start.

We stopped for a coffee on the corner of Alsina and Saenz Peña, nice coffee here but no medilunas and the facturas are a bit bland, still, again the price was good, so no room to complain. The streets were packed though with picateros, this did not look good. Although I sympathise with their complaints, I don’t agree with their methods. They block off the city and stop it functioning, they damage infrastructure and all this adds to the costs to the government that is already struggling to balance an impossible budget. And worse for me (yes I know, it is always about me) they stop the busses. So my personal taxi, the 151 colectivo, was not running. So we had to brave the crowds and walk the ten blocks back to Corrientes and get the Subte home.

So, in conclusion; although inflation has hit hard, for us, despite the money I already have being worthless, it is actually no more expensive. At first sight, it appears to be no more insecure. The people are lovely, but the system is broken. I can do nothing apart from spend my money here and help the odd beggar and hope the place just holds together.

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Ian and Linda

Up early this morning and off to town. We are meeting Ian and Linda who are here joining a cruise.  I met Ian on Wrexham walkabout and had mentioned I would be in Buenos Aires from January, as he was joining his ship here I said we should meet up. He failed to Join us at La Viruta, but I was not entirely surprised. His first day and not the easiest place to get to. We arranged to meet in the same place where we met Alex last year as I knew that was where the cruise ship busses dropped off.

Viv had never met Ian and neither of us had met Linda, combine that with my bad facial recognition and memory and there was some doubt we would ever meet.  There was a bit of mutual stalking before we tried “Ian?” “Bob?” well at least we managed to meet. Most people on one day here would not get to do the subte, but we took them along the “C” line to San Telmo where Ian wanted to do the Feria. I think he soon got bored with it though, if you are not in the market to buy antiques or rubbish, there is not a lot of point to it.

We took them then to El Federal, they enjoyed the olde world atmosphere of the place. After that we walked some more towards Plaza de Mayo, but when he said he had been I though there was not much point in going again. So we headed back to the subte. We debated Caminito, but decided that the subte was too far away and I had no colectivo information. The area around Boca is not a place to be wandering lost, so we decided on Gardel.

Here I failed, I’m afraid as a tour guide it was the “C” line we wanted and this was the “A”, I had to ask a policeman, then when we did get on the “C” line again I had to be rescued as I went the wrong way. A very nice policeman let us through the emergency exits onto the right side of the line. At least Ian was impressed that I could ask and understand the answers, and it gave him some entertainment. Now once on home turf, I switched easily to the “B” line and we were at Gardel in no time.

We stopped to admire all the tango statues and take some photos, then Linda wanted to stop for a drink. Too rich here, so we walked a little way down Jean Juares and found a bar with a group of locals outside. Well it seems just a beer was in order, so we went for Quilmes Cristal. A litre only $80, bargain, I do keep finding these cheap places.

Linda was getting nervous about the time so we took them back, showing them Harrods on the way. They had passed it and never noticed. I wanted to show them Galerias Pacificas, but Linda was worrying, I suppose she does not know the city like I do, but there was no sense in getting her upset. We arrived back at the pick up point with 20 minutes to spare. We said our goodbyes and set off again along the subte for home.

We have had a series of late nights and last night did not sleep well. Beer in the afternoon did not help, so by the time we had eaten, we were just too tired for the walk to Fulgor. We did not think we would dance much anyway, so a night off it is then. G&T anyone?

 

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Penultimate

I need just a bit more money before I go so a trip out is in order. Unusually for a Wednesday there was a queue, but I am in no hurry and am quite relaxed about it. The Argenpur office is one of the very few really efficient places here and the guy dealing with me was through the people in front in no time at all.

I stopped off at the Farmacia on the way back, as Viv wanted some baby oil. I took my number and stood by the counter to the right. The guy there said I should go to the end, then I was called back to the counter to the right. OK, no big deal. I asked for “aciete bebe” blank. I tried a slightly different pronunciation, still blank. “Entiendes aciete?” I tried “Si” she said “Bebe?” I tried, holding my arms in cradle fashion. She nodded, “Aciete bebe?” I tried again, Blank. Fortunately there was a guy who had served me before and directed her to the baby oil. I am sure he just said “aciete bebe” but what do I know. “Ochenta y sinco” she said  I took out $75 pesos, not enough so I offered $100. Then some woman behind me interfered and said that I had it grabbing my money and counting it. “solo Setenta y cinco” I said. I may not be able to pronounce like a local, but I can count. At least I now had what I came out for, but I was in a slightly less good mood than I had been.

Must be last week syndrome, but Viv did not do well in Milonga de Juan, I was having a great time. When he did the announcements he asked for any requests, there was a lot of shouting and I was not sure he heard me. After this there was a milonga and Viv had decided she had enough, she went for a coffee at Giucris. I danced the milonga with Mercedes and intended to follow, but straight after was Biagi. It seems that Juan had heard me and was doing my request, well I could not leave then so I did another tanda. I thanked Juan before I left and spent some time goodbyeing with the ladies.

After our coffee we took our things back to the apartment and headed out to HB. We had a salad and sandwich and mucho Cervesa. The Bill when it came was wrong but in my favour.  It left me room for a good tip but was still cheap. Viv seemed to think that it reduced the tip but I said it was $50 tip and $25 stupidity tax against the house. I gave the guy $600 and tried to ask him for $50 change he just said “I speak English”  Is it any wonder my Spanish gets no better?

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Shoes

We took the subte down into town quite early as we did not want to miss any dancing, this was a mistake, as nothing here opens until Buenos Aires time. My second mistake was heading down Corrientes instead of Diagonal. I always seem to do this for some reason. Still, it only means an extra block and we got to walk past Confiteria Ideal.  Today, for the first time, we saw signs of work going on. The small door in the shutters was open and a guy in overalls was outside having a smoke. He raised no objection when I stuck my head in, so I had a good look. Not surprisingly they have altered nothing but it all looks repaired and new. The ceilings  are freshly painted and the plaster work is picked out in gold. Obviously there was a lot of scaffold and ladders,  but it does look very promising. I just hope that rumours about there being no dancing there are false. I so look forward to returning to this fabulous venue.

It was half ten and only one shoe shop was open, and there was not much in there. Vivs  favourite, Las Marianas, did have opening hours on the door 11:00 – 19:00. This being Argentina, there was no point waiting so we went to look for coffee.  Across the road, on Diagonal, we saw another The Coffee Store, so that was it then. Coffee and medialunas only $70. It is $72 just for coffee in Martinez. We wondered where this chain had sprung up from, but it seems it has been operating as a franchise since 1997. How have we missed it for so long? And these medialunas are to die for.

We got back and the eleven o’clock opening became ten to twelve, but it was worth it. Viv now has two extra pairs for dancing here.

Something happened in Nuevo Chique today, I am not sure what, maybe it is just us. The numbers were right down so dancing was easier, but something was missing. I was quite enjoying it, but Viv left at six thirty to go for a coffee, so, of course, I had to leave after a couple more tandas.

Viv had gone to the new coffee bar underneath, they had all but thrown her out and another guy had been refused “We are closing” they said. I don’t get it, the furnishings and windows must have cost a fortune, surely they need to recover as much money and as quickly as they can. We don’t expect this place to be here next year, and it will all be the governments fault, and the USA and, of course, The IMF Vultures.

Well it’s back to some fresh pasta and Viv’s Bolognese followed by Quilmes Negra. They see me most nights in the Chino, I’m sure they think I am alcoholic.

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Polyglot at fifteen

Well Monday at El Beso is always a bit different, today was no exception. This being the long weekend, I suppose it was inevitable. At the start there were more men than women, this gave Viv some new opportunities and left me, often, into the second track before I got a dance. After a while the numbers increased and it got quite difficult to dance. This was a whole new crowd though and it never got any easier for me. As the numbers increased Viv also had problems, so by six thirty, we were ready to leave.

It was over the road again to The Coffee Store. I got a Whatsapp message off Philippe  saying he would be at my apartment by seven thirty. That is a full hour before we had arranged. Then we got another message that he would be there in ten minutes. When we finally got there he was waiting outside with Walter and his daughter.

We dropped our shoes off and headed for the nearest Peruana. I was impressed with Walters Daughter she is Argentine by birth, but spoke German with him and perfect English with us. At her age I would not have been able to even say hello in Spanish.

As usual the portions were enormous and we drank plenty of beer to wash it down. (Daughter drinking water). As she had school the next day we were home early in time to watch The Pilgrimage on Youtube.

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Ultima Fulgor

Our last Fulgor and suddenly the numbers are up. I think it is the Easter effect, but still, it is encouraging. There were people we have not seen in a long time and a few we have never seen before. It remains to be seen if we will see them again.  Bebe was missing, Marian said she was on holiday, strange that last week she said she would see us.

We stayed longer and danced harder tonight, it is always best to go out on a high. There was a tanda of old D’Arienzo and I just did not recognize it, I asked Roberto and he thought it was Donato, until he checked. I guess even locals do not have perfect Knowledge. It is a long way from the days when he announced every tanda.

Playing this, I am sure I would have recognized D’Arienzo. It was definitely Comm Il Faut, maybe even earlier?

Leaving was a long drawn out affair, we have to kiss all the locals, then explain again that we will not be back until January. Then it was just the long walk home again.

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Good Friday

Well here it is our last Abrazo Tango.  I guess many over did it last week because the numbers were down. That did not stop us having a great afternoon though. We stopped off at Zivals first on the way, I have a list of music that I want. I was not expecting much, I have looked here before. So I was pleasantly surprised to get almost all that I wanted. That left me somewhat short, things have gone up here quite a bit.

Same old story, many of our old favourites missing, but we got many new dances instead.

I had enough left though for our entrada and drinks. Already there are many goodbyes, many we see only here and will not see again. We stopped on the way home for some cake and coffee, this being Good Friday and all. No Easter eggs as the chocolate here is not to our taste, hopefully there will be some reduced price Cadbury’s when we get home.

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