Tag Archives: Callao

Got my Shoes Back

OK, well I got my shoes back. For those interested here is my route. If you are not interested just skip this bit: Caught the subte at Medrano and changed at Pueyrredon, train for Hospitales then change again at Plaza Miserere, then leave at Saenz Peña. only one block to walk then. After successfully retrieving my shoes I walked across Congreso to the Windmill (Confiteria Molin) then along Callao back to Corrientes. El Beso is just a block back up.

When I arrived I had trouble getting attention and a seat. So that Viv arrived while I was still waiting. She told Diago she wanted a seat where she would not be moved from today, so she was put on the table where Graciela sits. I was given a seat right behind. Well that worked out well.

Maria had tried some wine here and she had decided that I should also try it. So while I was up dancing my water turned to wine, Malbec from Mendoza, it don’t get much better. We had some excellent dancing and thanks to the advice from Gerta I managed to get some ladies I had not danced with before. I danced with the Cat lady again and even got a second dance with her. Taken me eight years but I think I have finally cracked this one. I think that the cabeceo is dead here. No body has the eyesight for it any more, I walk around and nobody refuses me.

When Viv asked what time we were leaving I said “not before Jesus” she asked what I meant and I told her someone had turned my water into wine. She then admitted she had planted the wine on my table, I never told her that I already knew.

Told Paloma we are going to crush the French in The 6 Nations, she thought my crushing motion was so funny she called Hubert over so that I could demonstrate again. Being a border rat English and Welsh I do have two chances.

When the Chacarera came on Viv was not for doing it “It’s boring” she said. So I decided to go and log on the internet, but as luck would have it Gerta grabbed me on the way past, and so we did the chacarera together.

A guy came and said “hello” he was from New York, he remembered me, I am afraid I did not remember him. I think that dancing with Viv possibly re-enforces the memory. I also danced with a lady from New Jersey ” we don’t like to say we are Americans” She said. This confused me somewhat. “Well I can’t call you yankies because they are from the south” “no” she said ” because of Trump”. “Well” I said “I won’t blame you for Trump if you don’t blame us for May” I am afraid though she could not grasp that May is unelected. The tango piste is not the place for politics.

We kept going until about seven thirty, something of a record for us. Then it was time to head home again.

More Quilmes stout for us tonight, from the chino. Have to keep up the beer levels.


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A Wonderful last night

The complete absence of the noisy colectivos meant we had a good nights sleep, but then we did not get up until after midday. Another day gone but at least we are well rested.

We walked towards Corrientes, but as we got to Humahuaca we saw a taxi and it was free, so we hailed it and jumped in. He chose a strange route (to my thinking) but it was no less direct than I would have gone. The difference was we encountered no traffic. We had allowed plenty of time, so now we were early. We arrived at ten past four and it only cost me $40 or about £2.

There were few there, but it did mean I had less problems with the cabeceo. Viv meanwhile danced every tanda. We had a really good night. There was only one blight on it for me, non of my favourite ladies arrived, so I got no chance to say goodbye to Graciela.

The last tanda we did Viv was dancing with Jong and I was dancing with an Italian lady.  Jong stopped me in between tunes to say I should be dancing the last tanda with Viv. It is not as if we will not be dancing together again but he seemed quite put out that we were not dancing together. The Italian lady with me said “Is he a little drunk” as I led her off the floor after our dance I said “Can I give you a little advice?” trying my best to sound very earnest. Then I said “Never go to a Korean Doctor”

Well, it may have been quiet but we enjoyed it and I think those who thought it would be closed did us a favour by keeping the numbers down. Shame about the missing ladies, but I will see them next year.

After saying goodbye to Marcela and Dany we walked off toward Callao. At Callao and Corrientes we stopped off at La Opera for our last meal here. Somehow it did not live up to what I had expected. (What did I Expect? I really do not know). Still we left satisfied and full of cerveza negra.

We cheated again and walked to Tucuman, there we found a taxi straight away that took us almost to our door, for another £2.

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Ghost town

It’s still a feria so everywhere is quiet. We enjoyed a long lie in with little traffic to disturb us, it was bliss.

Taking the subte down to Uraguay we had to wait seven minutes because it was feria service. but still it is a good service. We got out the other end and were amazed how quiet the roads were. It felt like the place was turning into a Ghost town, that is until we saw traffic coming the wrong way, it seems they had been directed this way to avoid the closed roads. We found it easy to move with everywhere so quiet, that was until we reached 25 Mayo. The road was completely blocked with processions and murga bands and just noise. Fortunately up from Uruguay was just audience, so although we struggled, we managed to get through all the pushchairs and people just standing around. Once through though and we had a clear run again. We debated whether the day would mean an empty milonga or a full one, there was no telling. Sometimes people go away and sometimes the go out, which would it be tonight?

San Jose was empty even the cartoneros and their mess were absent. Nuevo Chique was packed though, it was not too bad at first but soon every available seat was filled and it was near impossible to cabeceo. If I managed to get in early it was ok but once everyone was up dancing it was impossible. I sat out a couple of tandas simply because I could not see over the floor. Still we had a good night and Viv hardly sat down, which is also good. Dancing was difficult though, there was just enough space for someone always to be competing for the same spot. I managed to keep a good movement going, but was not immune to some careless dancer crashing into me, from my blind side.

Talking of blind side, I was proud of Viv. She got a blind guy up to dance and he really seemed to be enjoying it. She said “He was strong, so it was hard to lead him, while still following”. A tricky act, but shows how far she has come. I hope she will try again with the guy who comes to El Arranque.

We had decided that we would eat around constitution, but changed our minds and instead, decided on the Old Woman. At the bus stop there was no sign of a colectivo, no 90, no 168 and no 151. So after a short wait we headed off towards Callao and the subte. Viv worried that we might miss a bus as soon as we walked, but we were crossing constitution and would meet it the other side, if it came. Needless to say, no bus passed.

We had our bondalinas again, and again they were “muy rico”. You just gotta love Guarda La Vieja.

Off to bed again with full stomachs.

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“Si es continuar, marca dos”

Every day may two or three times a day, for a week now we have had the call from telefonica; “We are calling in response to your technical queries. If the problem is repaired press 1 if the problems continue press 2”. Well today I got a different call, the engineer would be here in five minutes.

He came, he unplugged my modem and re-tried it, then he plugged in a modem from his bag. Meanwhile his mobile rang and he sat on the arm of my settee talking on his mobile. After half an hour looking at the back of his head, he said the problem is not here and left. In the lift he assured me it would be fixed during the week ahead. Somehow I think we have another week of early morning calls to look forward to.

We took the subte down to Callao and two blocks along we saw a motorbike stopped at the lights. Two policemen took the two riders to the side of the road to question them. If you think motorcyclists have it bad at home, you should see it here. There were four other police surrounding them all with their hands on their guns. We beat a hasty retreat.

Back in El Arranque the waiter (Horacio) had our drinks ready for us. Coming early is definitely a bonus for Viv, she was up before me in every tanda. The only one she sat down for was Pugliese, funny really just the two of us on this row sitting out a tanda that everyone seems to love.

After seven we had the chacarera then there was a Paso doble. Viv would only do one so I did the second with Graciela. We had agreed that we would do one more tanda after the break and then go. So we did a last tanda together and I stared taking my shoes off. As always happens, the best music now came on, a D’Angelis vals. well Viv was straight up and I was left sitting there. Not for long though, I had my street shoes on but I was not going to be outdone. Graciela was eyeing me up so off we went, Lagrimas y sonrisas to start.

In the gaps I told her of my shoes, 30 years old “Cierto?” she said. The best shoes in the world, but because they are so good, the factory is closed. Everyone who wants them now has them and there is no need to replace them. Sad but true. Unfortunately though, even the best in the world, do not last forever and I fear that they will have to go in the rubbish before we return.

We caught the 151 colectivo, but this time we did not get off at Salguero 799. We stayed on while it turned up Cordoba until it reached Araoz. We got off and headed for Dr Masons, now called Shanghai Dragon. I asked the guy when it changed name “3 years ago” he said, it was my turn to say “Cierto?” So it must have been 2011 when we came here with Bert and Brigitte.

The prices look expensive now, not in UK terms, but definitely for here. Fortunately It was happy hour, because the beer is London prices. Anyway we ordered Thai rice for two. He came back and said we could not have it as there was a problem with the noodles. Not until we were walking home did we realise, we did not order noodles.

So Viv ordered Tsos Chicken and I ordered  Beef Rogan josh. I should have learned by now. It may have tasted good, it may have been excellently prepared and presented, but what I got was not Rogan Josh. Rogan Josh is a tomato base, what I got was beef in gravy. The Chili symbol by the side menu was just decoration. It may have been introduced to a chili at a party some time, they may have had a torrid affair, but the chili had long gone. Viv said it served me right, I should really have learned by now. When I get home I am going to have a massive Indian that will blow my socks off.

Vivs Chicken meanwhile was delicious and, ironically, more spicy than my curry. So Dr Masons is no more, just shows you can never go back.

We had some thoughts later and decided it must have been 2009 last time we went with Bert and Brigitte, time flies they say.



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Palace de Aguas

We had seen it many years ago, and did not know what it was. When we did find out it was time to go home. So it has been on my places to visit for many years, we just never got around to seeing it.
We got off the subte at Callao and back tracked one street to Riobamba. We passed a similarly grand college building and as we passed, the Palace de Aguas came into view. If anything it was even better from Riobamba than Cordoba. (Full title is Palace de Aguas Corrientes, or Palace of running water)

Palace de Aguas from Riobamba

Palace de Aguas from Riobamba

The entrance is on Riobamba anyway, so we arrived right at the front door, where it said “Museo entrada libre”. So that was good, but once I was inside I did not know where to go.
The ground floor seemed to be filled with counters. It looked like people came here to pay their water bills. Around the corner we found a guard and he directed us to the lift. I felt stupid as there was a sign by the lift which clearly said “Museo primera piso”.
Once on the first floor there was another guard, he wanted a passport or photo identification. This is the first time this on vist that this has happened to us, I really though they had finally dispensed with all this nonsense, so we no longer carried our passports.
I gave him my best Doe eyed look and said “No tengo” so he let us through anyway.
Once inside we were approached by a Guide and she took us, along with another couple, through to the tanks. Everything was in Spanish so I had to translate for Viv. It is all improving my Spanish no end.
Basically the place was built by the British, with bricks made in San Isidro and steel from Belgium. The building is beautiful and decorated with Royal Dolton embellishments. There are four sets of three tanks. The three on top of each other, with manual control of the filling. When It was built it was higher than anything in Buenos Aires and so could supply water to the whole city. The tanks held 7.48 million gallons. (Working from memory here, so forgive me if I am slightly inaccurate.)
The water was pumped from the river and filtered at Recoletta.
The tank room, showing eight of the tanks. The four lower ones have been removed. the remaining six would have been behind us.

The tank room, showing eight of the tanks. The four lower ones have been removed. the remaining six would have been behind us.

The remaining floor, we thought, would make an excellent milonga.
We then had time to look around the museum. Lots of old toilets taps and other plumbing accessories. For me though it was the big pumps that were the highlight. I suppose for Viv it was the old offices.
On our way out I got in trouble for taking a photo of the floor. It seems I was not allowed to take photos where people were paying their bills.
We rested a while in Parque Rodreguez Peña, before taking some refreshment in Viamonte.
Funny but it was more expensive than Palermo, but we found out that hey have Paella Velenciano, it has to be worth a return trip for that.
We managed to get Viv some of her special shampoo on Corrientes and some Yogurt pants, whatever they are.
Quite a successful trip out but I wanted some hamburgers from the local chino. The butcher was not there and everything was put away, because there was yet another power outage.
We took the subte to Nuevo Chique again, and once again I had a great night. Viv meanwhile had an awful seat. I could not see her without standing. So I was surprised to Hear how well she had done. She said she had only missed two tandas.
On our way back to catch our 151 we noticed almost all the shops and bars up to Congreso had generators outside them. The infrastructure here is falling apart.
Never mind our power is still on and so is the other chino. The one that has fresh bread, So while we needed milk, the bread needed us to eat it.
Warm bread for supper……………Hmmmm.

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We had a few jobs today before our class so we set off down Corrientes.
First stop El Correo, to pay the electric bill. First problem “No Hay Luz” the post office had a power cut.
Never mind we carried on towards the HSBC where Viv wanted t draw some money. Her card was not allowed in this machine. Knowing how Argentina works we tried again with a lower amount, same response. You would not mind so much but this is, after all, our bank.
We crossed the road to the Abasto Centre, I know that they have Link machines upstairs.
We got the same response, and some annoyed customers who were waiting for us to finish. I responded “Es su loco pais, no quiro mis dinero”
Any way further up the road we found a Banco Francais. First machine had no money, second machine gave the same response. We tried for $300 and finally got some money. Viv said “What am I supposed to do with just $15?” Makes you wonder.
We wandered on and at last managed to buy a tray to fit under the drainer, Viv has been looking since we arrived. That’s one job out of the way.
So we decided to stop in La Reina and try again. “Quarto kilo escones de Queso” I ventured. Then I pointed to the cheese straws and asked “Quarto kilo por favor”. To my horror she put them in the same bag, and then I realised, again I had just four of each. “No quarto Kilo” I said. She put them back and re-weighed. At last I had what I wanted, and with a couple of empanadas for lunch we were done.
Well the class went well again, we left and walked towards Callao. On the way we stopped for ice cream. More confusion as I asked for chocolate with peanuts for Viv and Duche de Leche with brownies for me. What I got was one cone with both flavours. Nothing for it but to order another. A, no two, mountains of ice cream for a couple of quid.
We were walking to El Ateneo but by the time we got there we were positively covered in ice cream. It took some cleaning up before we dared to enter a book shop.
You would think that the amount of English speakers there are here that we would have no trouble finding a Spanish English dictionary, but there was non here. German, yes, Cantonese, dozens. Every language you could think of but no English.
We had seen a fascinating building from the collective on Monday, so as we were passing we thought we would take a look. Palacio Sarmiento is the ministry of culture and education. Beautiful building and worthy of the man who brought education to the masses here.
The search for a dictionary continued, we tried four more shops without success, but the last one did tell us to go to Cordoba y Parana, but it was out of our way so it will have to do another day.
I did manage to get Viv some glasses though, in Callao subte station. The guy was very helpful and we even got a case. Perhaps Viv can now manage with my pocket dictionary.
Time to rest and lick our wounds, then we are off out to meet Perry for a meal.
As usual chaos reigned, all my fault We were at Mochica we should have been at Mamami. We sat drinking our stout wondering where Perry had got to. I did not have Pericles phone number in my new sim card and I guessed he did not have my new number either. When all hope was lost I thought of checking my wallet, and found a business card. Then it all became clear. He was waiting where he had said and we were in the wrong restaurant.
Ten minutes later Pericles arrived. We ordered the pollo a la brassa, and another Quilmes stout.
We got a full update on Pericles business activities and we gave him an update on our apartment. We now have a number of mutual friends, so we talked for hours.
When we left Perry showed us a sandwich bar that we had seen before but had not yet been in. Turns out it is run by a Londoner by the name of Stuart. We promised to come and eat there some time.
The stout was now starting to kick in so it was time for bed.


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Los Reys del Tango

Viv wanted to pamper herself today. Being a mere man this goes beyond my comprehension, so I left her to it and went off to buy CDs.

I caught the subte down to Callao and then walked through to Lavalle. From here it is only two blocks to Euro records. I had spent the morning and most of yesterday evening going through their catalogue the size of the task I have set myself is immense. I can only make a start this trip.

I arrived again at that door rang the buzzer and was allowed in. The old guy who had welcomed me yesterday was not here. There were two men involved in lively discussion in the inner office and a girl sitting at a desk. She put her head through the hatch and told me to take a seat.

I sat perusing the CD’s that were on the shelves out here for a while, and then she asked me in. In my faulting Spanish I said I had a list which she took from me. I apologized that I did not have all the catalogue numbers, but it did not seem to matter, she knew where every one was.

Soon she had a pile and seemed to think that was it. I picked up my notepad and said “hay otra”. On the internet site all the prices were in Dollars so I had brought the US currency that I had brought back and to with me for years, never having a good use for it. At this point she explained that she did not have change so could not take dollars. It got confusing now, and then she said “I speak good English”. She explained again that she did not have change, so could not take dollars. Even in English I did not quite understand but agreed to pay in pesos.

It was, as well I did not show her page three of my list, she took almost all the pesos I had with me. I was hoping to take some pesos home with me this time, but I suppose American Dollars are a less risky currency to hold on to. I can always buy more pesos next year.

People always ask why we keep trying new milongas, well you never know what you are going to find; Somebody suggested to Viv that we try Armenia 1353, well my first reaction was “No way, I am not going to La Viruta again” Viv said “It is not La Viruta” so I did some checking. La Viruta is at Armenia 1366, the other side of the road, this milonga is La Milonguita. So I thought “let’s give it a try.

Now opposite Association Armenia (Home of La Viruta) is a church, still Armenia, but a church none the less. We found a gate and walked in, the security guy sent us to the little gate where there was a pay booth. We started off badly as we were now standing the wrong side of the queue. I was then shocked somewhat by the entrada at thirty five pesos. Still we were here; best make the most of it.

We were going to be in what after all was a church hall and we often use them at home. This one was somewhat different than the ones we have at home though. The foyer area was as big as most UK church halls and we passed through to a magnificent room with a proper curtained stage and a balcony all the way around.

The room itself had a parquet floor that was in general good condition although there was some damage from tables, in places. The walls were cream coloured with gold details all around. The effect was very fifties ballroom and unlike most venues here well maintained.

Again when we saw the drinks prices we were shocked; a good fifty percent dearer than other clubs, this was going to be an expensive night.

They have a novel way of getting around the, dimmed light, bright light debate in here; the lights are up when the Cortina is played but they gradually dim them as the tanda progresses.

Viv still suffering was finding it hard to keep dancing and she had just promised me the next tanda when they had “the bit in the middle”. I am sure there is some name for this and it varies from club to club, here it was all rock and roll.

I got another tanda in before the organizer took the floor again and announced the live band. I knew we were having a band but did not know who.

She announced “aplausos por Los Reys Del Tango“. This was incredible, we never expected this. Well we sat out the first tanda and just watched them perform. The skill and dexterity of these (mostly quite old) guys is incredible. After the first tanda Viv said “go and play”. So I saw a lady I had danced with in El Arranque and we were off.

The music was lively and it took all my floor craft to stay with the music and avoid crashing, but I think I did ok. They did four tandas and I managed to get dances for the remaining two. Those four tandas, without doubt were worth the expense of the evening. I only regret not having my camcorder with me.

It would have been great to have some record of the night.

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Andamos Corrientes

It is supposed to be winter here, but every morning it is just so warm in our apartment. This causes a problem as it is somewhat cooler outside. I wear a T shirt with another top over it, and Viv has a sort of zipper top. Not over dressed for winter you would think, but as I walked the streets today, most of the time I had my top off’ just in jeans and a T. Of course there are locals going past with anoraks on, looking at us like we are mad. It is 20 degrees with high humidity, at these levels we would sit outside at home, not wrap ourselves in thick coats.

We caught the subte down to Callao where we know there are good music shops. Once there we did not know which one to choose, in the end we went into Musimundo. Once inside an assistant asked if we needed any help, so I asked for a discount, he said it was not possible but he could let me pay in cuotas sin interest. We have been down this route before with furniture and know well it is just not possible if you have a foreign card.

We spent some time choosing music, we started with a DVD of Cafe de los Maestros an open air concert at the planetarium (see Jan’s comment on my planetarium post) I had a long list of music we wanted, we chose mainly double CDs to save duplication an money. I can justify the money I spent by saying we are living here on the money from Philippe, so my money at home is untouched. Who said to your own self be true? 

After all this exertion we stopped in a cafe close by for coffee and medialunes. It was still fairly early so I suggested we walk back, the two pesos subte fare is not an issue (about 40P) but we had not seen this part of Corrientes.

The buildings are mainly quite characterless along here, although if you look up there is the occasional gem, finely decorated buildings with filigree balconies, like something from bye gone France. The shops however are what kept Viv entertained. There was a wonderful kitchenware shop another filled with cake decorations, you could buy anything from an icing sugar house to The whole Simpson family.

We found another place that specialised in picture frames, worth noting as we are short of decor here.

We also found a shop specialising in wigs. The boss quickly sussed there was a potential customer here when he saw Vivs hat. The range and quality was good but Viv was not in the mood for buying wigs, perhaps we may return. The prices were not cheap, being comparable to the UK, so my view is if we were to buy it must be soon, just in case there are any problems.

All the shops, before we knew it we were back at Carlos Gardel, so we popped into Coto for some provisions, for tea.

Looks like we had another told you so night, but we have been together alone for too many years not to make our own mistakes, and as for the places we love to visit, we can only accept that they have changed , when we see it for ourselves.

So we went to Salon Dandi, the numbers were really down. It gave us room to practice and try some things new and we still love the ambiance, though I think we will not be back for some time. Of the few who were there, one guy spent all his time teaching on the floor, so the two women he had with him were out as possible dance partners. Viv had unilaterally decided we would dance with someone else tonight, as it was quiet, trouble was it was too quiet so there were few oportunities. One couple came in and sat at the edge of the floor they were speaking in english, Viv’s biggest problem is that she cannot speak to dancers between the dances. So after being egged on I said I would ask the lady if Viv would ask the man.

I went over and asked, the lady just said “no” she also said she was not english but german, as if that explains ignorance. We later found out she was a taxi dancer, whatever the man who was an obvious beginner had missed an oportunity to dance with Viv. She also was not the best dancer we have seen here by any means, and we now think she did not want to dance with anyone else in case her customer realised he was being fleeced. Their loss we still enjoyed dancing together.

The collectivo web site would give me no bus routes from San Telmo, so we walked to Indepedencia and caught a taxi just after the filling station. The taxista was quite chatty, normally they here foreign tongues and  stay quiet, but he was quite keen to express his views on tourist tango, right up until he ran out of gas. Now you may ask the same question we did “was he not outside a filling station when we were picked up?” TIA (this is Argentina) . So we grabbed another taxi “Salguero y Guardia Vieja” I said again, so he hared off in the usual fashion.
The route was unusual but I did not think we were being taken out of our way, as it was in the right direction, only when he turned behind The Abasto Centre did I realise he did not know where he was “Aca” he said “si esta buen” I was beyond arguing and anyway it was only about five blocks.
A short walk home would bring my blood pressure down. 


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For gringos pronounced Cash ow.

What I love about this city is that despite having come here eight times now, it still has the capacity to make me stand back and say wow! and surprise me.

Early risers today we were out the flat by eleven, Viv had even been out to  5aSec for the laundry.

We walked down to Scalabrini y Santa Fe where there was a shop she wanted to look in, unfortunately there was nothing there she wanted, and so as always at times like this we went for a coffee. Viv remembered she was supposed to be going shopping with Janis, so we phoned to cancel. The weather was improving and I think winter coats were the last thing on her mind.

We caught the subte at Scalabrini and got off at Callao. We were looking for El Ateneo, but were on the wrong street, there is a beautiful building just two blocks from the subte on Cordoba , someone asked us what it was, we just said  “no se”. Anyone know what it is?, it looked like some sort of university or technical school.

We walked down Callao and turned into Santa Fe just up from the corner was the entrance to El Ateneo. What we saw is hard to describe, it is an old theatre which is now a book shop. They have not destroyed the interior, only removed some walls, so that as you walk in you are confronted with the auditorium and as you pass into it you are surrounded by all the balconies and boxes. The stage area is set out as a cafe with the stage lighting still in place. In the centre of the stalls is an escalator down to the pits where the children’s section is. We stood in the middle and just said “wow” No photos could do this justice, it is simply the one place any visitor should see. The Guardian did a survey of all the worlds book shops and this was voted second best in the world, the best I have GOT to see.

Unlike so many old buildings the whole character has been maintained. It has a whole new life, but all it’s former glory is maintained.

We walked back along  Callao as we wanted to look in some other record shops before we decide what music to bring home.

Isee they have a new way of employing people here; there is a whole army of people putting posters on lampposts. So what is so different? well they also have another army following with buckets and scrapers cleaning them off again.

Along the way it is worth looking up to see the beautiful sky line, and the many copulas that still survive.

Gloria Garcia again welcomed us to Plaza Bohemia, sadly the numbers were very down. This was a shame because we were treated to a wonderful session from the Tango singer Luis DeRosa, I think Gloria kept him singing to liven up the evening, but we enjoyed it no end.

Luis DeRosa

Luis DeRosa

We had a short chat with him afterwards and like many he was surprised to meet tango dancers from Wales. I tried to explain as best I could how hard it is to find tango in Wales and how much we have to travel. (that is why I am a Frustrated milonguero)

I had a bus route worked out for the way home, but when we saw the bus we needed disappear, well there were so many taxis.


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