Tag Archives: Guarda La Vieja

Drunk in charge of a broken Umbrella

A grey start to Monday morning. Viv sent me out for some fruit, so I took the opportunity to pay the City tax (Rentas) and put some credit on my phone.

I bumped into Jose on Corrientes. I love bumping into people I know here, makes me feel more like I belong. In the veg shop he opened a fresh box of pears for me and I told him we were leaving. Viv told me to give him $100 for his son, he did not at first understand “es una regalo por tus hijo” I said. When he realized we were leaving he thanked me and asked when we will return. So many goodbyes, it is sad to be leaving.

Viv dragged me around the shops again, looking for some guest towels. We never managed to find what we wanted. They only seem to sell towels in sets here. We tried the shop at 550 Medrano but by the time we got there it was closed. Some shops do not open until one others close one until four, others still open just when they please. It makes shopping an interesting experience here.

We returned to Plaza Bohemia, hoping that with the demise of Ideal the numbers would be up. It was a vain hope. The rain did little to help, but I suspect deeper problems. There were two spare women and three men. Viv was not advantaged though, because the shy guy would not look up and did not get up to dance until another lady arrived. Then he danced only with her.

We did many tandas together, but there was a real risk of . me becoming casamiento  with the few ladies. Good news though, Viv won the sorteo. They sell tickets and divide the money up into prizes. Small house, so there was only one prize of £130.Hardly a fortune  but better than a kick in the teeth.

Back to the bus stop and my umbrella is looking rather sad. It blew out on the way and several stays are broken, but it will see today out.

We were supposed to be meeting Mauricio and Kym and I had suggested Imaginario. Turns out it is shut today TIA. So we rescheduled for Guardia La Vieja. I got in and ordered a stout “No tiene, solo Hieneken” he said. So I tried ordering a pint, “Solo Hieneken” he said again. What is the point of having a long menu of beer and only stocking poison. So we had two coffees.

When Mauricio arrived we explained that they have no beer, so he messaged Kym and we retrenched to El Banderin across the road. No stout here either but they did have Quilmes so this would have to do. They do not have a lot of food choice here either, so we all had bondiola sandwiches and some crisps.

Kym brought another friend and the lads polished off two bottles of wine, while we hammered the beer. Then we ordered more beer. They are just not used to this here, we got louder as we put the World in general and Argentina in particular to rights.

Then they closed all the blinds and threw us out. I thought that they had more stamina here than that, but it is Monday I suppose.

We walked back past our apartment and as a parting gift, I gave Kym my umbrella. Well I think he has ten blocks to go.

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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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Gavito’s Grandson

We were not well today and spent most of the day in bed. I did get out earlier though, Sebastian said I could pay AFIP at the post office and they would send the parcel. Fat chance, after an hours wait the girl said I must go to the Aduano at the airport. So I must spend£50 in taxis to get something they value at £1. We are back to this; they can keep it, whatever it is.

Interesting thing though in the post office, they have a guard , with a gun. He spent most of his time enforcing the no Movil rule. Well they do something right here. Well almost, should have shot a few. (Only joking honest) On the way back a man asked me for Columbres, I told him it was eight blocks down Salguero and the other side of Rivadavia. He seemed to understand, then went off in the opposite direction. Crabtree strikes again?

Back home again and back to bed, I slept through until three with the help of a Vicks cold remedy. I still felt  crap but we decided to go out anyway.

Wouldn’t you know it, two 168s passed as we walked to the stop, it was going to be a long wait. Some lady came over and asked about a number 5 collectivo. I could not help, but there was a five on the parada, so we assumed she was in the right place. She told us she was from Ukraine and had trouble with Yo and que.  She talked mainly to Viv as most people do, Viv, of course, didn’t understand a word.  Eventually our bus arrived, I never saw a number 5, I hope our Ukrainian was OK.

The bus was so crowded we got off a stop early again, the lights were on red on Independencia so we went up a block into Entre Rios and we were travelling faster than the bus anyway.

Obalisco was brilliant, Viv only missed one tanda and that was when she went out for some air. Daft really it was hotter outside so she just came back in. There was a guy sitting by me, he often dances with Viv but today he could not see her from where he was. He was commenting all the time, he was especially caustic when the women would walk past and say to me “Hace calor”. “Es Verano” he kept saying. When a Pugliese tanda came on he was especially verbose, they dance too fast, they don’t respect the pauses and so on.  I don’t dance Pugliese because I don’t think that I can do it justice, but there was one couple on the floor who definitely did. I watched them as they filled the floor, taking advantage of every space and moving with absolute grace.

As I suspected there was a demo later and it was the same couple. My table companion and oft times commentator, told me that the dancer was the Grandson of Gavito. I guess it’s in the blood.

Can’t be bothered cooking so it’s back to Guardia la Vieja again. Of course as it is on the corner of Billinghurst the bus took the normal route and stopped outside of our apartment. It gave us a chance to drop off our stuff first.

Even the black beer did not help me sleep.  This dammed flu needs to go now.


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Another animal

After our class we again took the 150 collective to Obalisco.
On a Monday, Obalisco is a whole other animal. On Friday I had trouble getting dances and Viv danced with no one but me. For her it was a total waste of time and money. Monday however, she never missed a tanda. I had no trouble getting dances either, in fact I had to sit out Pugliese just to get a rest.
I danced with a Peruvian lady who lives in Mendoza, she told me she travelled for 5 hours to get here and she would not get home until after midnight. I thought I had tango addiction, that is close to loca.
The waitress, I think realised we had had a bad time Friday and offered us good seats, and Gabriela (Organiser and DJ) always welcomes us in.
when we had enough we took our 151 home but got off at Plaza Almagro, Viv thought that there were some good eating places. The only one we found was shut due to a power cut, so we ended up in Guardia la Vieja again.
It’s quieter Monday and we got better service, still after so long without food the beer went to our heads. Time for bed.

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Dancing with a Giant

Monday’s are getting a bit samey. All rush to make some lunch to take with us. A change of clothing and then out to school.
Typically Argentine though, our SUBE cards need topping up and there are two windows in the subte station. One, as always is closed, the other has a sign on the SUBE station “No funciona”
Viv did not have enough for the journey, fortunately I had enough. No, I didn’t leave here there, I paid for both. Luckily there is a bolateria at Uruguay, where we get off, so we could top up there.
After the class we took our usual 150 Collectivo to Carlos Calvo, then only one block to Obalisco. Quick change of clothes then we are away again.
The numbers were seriously down especially the women, which suited Viv. I actually had to miss a couple of tandas, sitting there looking at women who would not dance. I could hear Viv’s voice in my head saying “welcome to my world”. Still I prefer it this way, at least she is happy.
There is a giant of a man there, by the name of Carlo, looks like Jimmy Nail. It was the first time he has asked Viv to dance. I should have taken a picture for all those women at home who complain that the man is too tall.
There was no extended walk tonight, we went straight for our 151 and then to Guardia la Vieja.
More empanadas and salad. The service is still slow this time of night, but beer with nuts, empanadas and salad with pan for £8 with tip, ain’t bad, and only two blocks from home.

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A quiet day

It is a sign of getting old I suppose, either that or the adrenalin kick of a new destination is no longer there. Arriving in Buenos Aires after twenty hours of travel, we no longer feel like going straight out.
The first thing we do is have a good sleep. Then we have a quick wander around the streets, to see what’s new and if any of our favourites have gone.
Patio Salguero is now finished and seems to be well used. I will talk more of this place later when we go and spend some time there. All our regular local stops seem to have survived and, as usual, a few new buildings have appeared.
So we bought a few provisions, sent messages to our friends to let them know we are here, then skulked back, to rest some more.
There is a favourite stop of ours Guarda La Vieja. It is on Guardia Vieja. See what they did there? Mind the old lady on The Old Guard Street, but it doesn’t quite work in English.
We sat outside in the evening warmth, with the biggest bowl of salad you have ever seen, some empanadas and a bottle of black beer.
No tango yet, pero estoy contenido. Tomorrow we tango but tonight it is an early night.

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Of Mice and Men

The last few days we were in Buenos Aires, are hectic, so there is little time for me to write. Therefore I am writing up the weekend and our return from home. So if there are any errors or omissions I hope you will forgive me. There is one up side of this though; it extends my holiday mood for a few more days as I recall happy times in the City of Tango.


If the best laid plans of mice and men can go awry, then you will understand how my poor organisation can end up in chaos. We had already postponed our lunch with Philippe due to over booking, but today we had reserved the afternoon for him.

We set off down Guardia Vieja in the hope of visiting Guardia La Vieja again. Unfortunately I had not checked, and it seems they do not open during the day. There are two “Organic” restaurants also on Guardia Vieja, but I don’t do organic. Carrot cake and lettuce leaf butties are not what I think of when thinking food in Argentina.

So we set off down Corrientes, Philippe knew of a place opposite the Abasto called El Rey. He was a bit more reliable and the place was there, and open. It was Chilean food, but somehow we ended up with Pollo Entero again.

The chicken arrived already quartered; there was a huge plate of chips and just for healthy balance a huge plate of salad.  The chicken was cooked to perfection with an unknown (to us) variety of spices. The chips were perfectly browned and even the salad was a good mix. (Usually here they overdo the onion and under do the lettuce). All this was washed down with a fine Malbec.

The only downside of the experience was the door that no one seemed to understand should be shut after going through it. The weather now is getting cooler and nobody likes to sit in a draught.

We finished up with coffee in the apartment. All our business sorted, there was nothing left but to say adios for another year.

My plans for the day continued to go wrong; Janis had said we should meet in Lo de Celia, but we had arranged to meet Roger and Mirta at Consegrados. I checked the times and there was no reason we could not do the two especially as they were only three blocks apart. So I mailed Janis to tell her.

Janis though decided that she would come to Los Consegrados so we all met up there.

Viv and I had a few dances but she was still suffering, so her instruction to go play was not unexpected.

From where we were sitting though it was not easy to cabeceo and I could not really see who I was asking to dance. My first victim was a real surprise, blessed as she was in the chest department, she was also very tall. I think Viv Janis and Mirta were all somewhat amused by me attempts to look dignified as I tried in vain to find somewhere to put my head that would not lead to embarrassment. Still the lady in question did not seem to mind too much and despite my obvious discomfort, I did enjoy the experience.

I also met up with a lady from Windsor called Jane, who is a friend of Janis. I told her if she is ever up north to give us a visit, but I doubt she ever will. Londoners think the world ends at Watford Gap.

We all sort of broke up early. Roger and Mirta were tired and headed off back to their hotel and with Viv not dancing, we decided we had also had enough, by about ten thirty.

Janis stayed on with Jane and we set off into the night.

We do not know this side of town that well. (It is reputed to be dangerous, phffat) I thought we could walk through to Congresso so that is what we did.

Even this late at night some of the buildings were beautiful to look at, although my little camera would not do them justice without the light. We saw a 168 stop, and for a second or two thought about just jumping on, but sometimes after a milongas we just enjoy walking together and reliving some of our experiences. For me some of our best times together are when we are just strolling after the milongas.So we walked on.

When we finally got to Congresso we stopped off at Moncloa the café where we had met Maggi last year. So at close to midnight we had Submarino (Hot milk into which you melt chocolate) and medialunas, watching the never-ending traffic around the square, until it was time to catch our colectivo home.

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Cucaracha man

The doorbell  was ringing very early, Viv said “you will have to answer it, I don’t speak Spanish” When I opened the door there was no one there. Down the corridor was Senor Matacucarachas with his killerspray. “Fumigacion” he said, “enterior?”  I said and he confirmed. So we hurriedly put on some clothes and I left the door ajar. After half an hour he had not called back and the corridor lights were out. I closed the door. We hung around for ages but he never returned, I guess our cucarachas are reprieved.

The CD hunt continues, so we thought we would give Euro records, as suggested by Jantango, a try. Viv wanted some more exercise after her day in yesterday so we elected to walk down Lavalle. The wholesale goods on this street always amuse, there is a shop just selling balloons another selling party hats and a whole block of just mannequins. The naked fat guy staring out of one window is a constant source of ribald humor.

Eventually we got to the right block. There was no shop here, just a doorway. The door was locked with an intercom and remote opener. (I knew this as someone had walked in as we approached). I did not like the look of this and we debated about what to do next. We had walked this far and I would not have been happy to go home empty handed so I pressed the buzzer, “Hola” “Quiremos unas CDs” The auto latch operated. We walked down a narrow corridor and up the stairs at the back.

A short guy with thinning grey hair met us at the top. He was very enthusiastic and wanted to know what we were looking for. In truth I still did not know. The room he showed us into looked more like a producer’s office than a shop, but here were racks of CDs on the wall. “Tango bailable?” he asked. “Si” I said. So he directed us further in to his inner sanctum. There were even more racks of CDs, but he wanted us to sit down. Then he gave us catalogues with all his music in them. There was just too much for us here, so he also directed us to his web site.

Now I have all my music here with me in my computer, so I asked if we could take them away and check them against what we have. He was surprised when we said we had come from Wales, he thought Tango now was becoming international. It certainly is, though I wonder how long it will be before the Europeans realize it is more about the music than the moves.

Time for some coffee again. We returned to Bocota on Sarmiento. Viv still thinks we should return here for food some day, but today coffee will have to suffice.

Back to Nuevo Chique again today. We are quite comfortable here separado and sat opposite sides of the room we get a good view of the dancers. I don’t think I missed a tanda and Viv certainly did well the first half. I think she gets tired and puts less effort into her cabeceos as time goes on, but she still did well.

There is a very nice lady from Chile who likes to dance with me, she was sitting by Viv today. She has often commented on my aftershave. I had saved the last drops for today, but Viv had thrown it out. So I told my Chilean friend “ella poner el Calvin Klein en la basura”. She thought that was funny.

Anyway it turns out that she is a masseuse and on hearing of Vivs troubles took her off to give her back a rub. Perhaps it was because of the language problems (or maybe the Calvin Klein) but Viv said the relief was only temporary.

We went back to Guarda la Vieja later for some food. When we find something good we stick to it. Viv said I should have something different so I had chicken in a mustard sauce, it was delicious. Viv went for a rice dish, it tasted great, but lacked a certain something “Meat” I said.

We left stuffed, I think I may have garlic breath by the morning.


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They do things differently here, I don’t know if it is better or worse, just different. It has to be said some things definitely are worse, but then some things are better and some are just different. I hope that is clear.

So I went to the ferreteria across the road and showed him a drawing I had made of a hanging bracket I wanted. Well the choices he gave me really bore no resemblance to my drawing but he had got the idea. They cost me only three pesos, but they were no use for what I wanted. So I would have to try again later.

Viv is still suffering with her neck, so she instructed me to go to El Arranque on my own. I thought I would join this up with a trip to Easy. So I walked the length of Salguero up to Rivadavia and then into the Easy store. The brackets they had were the same as the ones in my Ferretaria so I had to do some lateral thinking. I decided to get some hooks and hang the headboard on them, I will report later on how and if this works.

From Easy it was only a short walk to Loria subte station and I was running early.

The A subte line is the oldest in Buenos Aires and has quaint wooden carriages. The line itself weaves much more than the other lines. In places the train has to slow right down to stay on the tracks and you get the feeling that it is just meandering with no great intent. The slow pace almost caught me out, because somewhere we lost a station and suddenly we were in Constitution and the doors were open. If I did not wake pronto I was going to miss my stop.

Out in the fresh air again I was only one block from where I wanted to be and it was quarter to three. The guide said it opened at three that meant at least half past. So I passed by and headed for our favorite coffee shop Joan Miro.

Once inside I thought to bridge the gap some medialunes. “tienes medialunes?” I asked “ni dulce ni grasa” he said. (We have neither sweet nor fat)“Hay torta” but the portions of cake were just too big so I just had coffee. I sat there in one of their comfy sofas looking for something interesting in the magazines, but it was the same rubbish about famous people that is in our British magazines. The only thing for me to read was the business section of Clarin. I read and reread the article on the YPF nationalization, simply because knowing what it was about helped me understand it.

At three thirty I’d had enough and headed for El Arranque. It was, of course deserted, Dany was playing pop music, there were no women, but at least I got a good seat.

By four thirty there were seven men and two women including me. I had a toasted sandwich to while away the time and hopefully stave off hunger.

It never got really packed but once we started I only missed one tanda. I met a nice Columbian lady who we had seen the night before in Fulgor. She told me her partner was only a friend, so I said “at this point I should ask you for a coffee” fortunately she realized I was very married and was joking. I was not so fortunate later, in my desire to practice my Spanish I told one lady I was hungry and was going out for food later. She took this as an invite and was not best pleased; I did not have the vocabulary to pull myself out of this hole. I just hope she has forgotten next time we meet. Everyone who remembered us asked about Viv or said “estas soltero hoy” are you alone today? And the old man who always came to dance with her looked bitterly disappointed.

I always thought that the people here came only to dance, but it was amusing to watch the antics of the old men when a fine young thing arrived. She could not dance, of course, but that did not stop them asking her. Me? Well I do not look like an old milonguero and anyway I prefer the ladies who dance.

I was enjoying myself, but somehow it did not feel right to be soltero. Viv was still back at the apartment and like me she was now probably hungry, so I left quite early.

I had promised to take Viv out for something later and so we set off down Guadia Vieja. Normally at night we go the other way and have missed all the life that has sprung up just down our street. We happened on it accidentally the other night so now we were going to try it out.

First few places were a bit of a disappointment, I think the hour is still too early for the Argentines. When we reached Billinghurst it looked a bit more hopeful. A new place Called “Guarda La Vieja” (Get It? Guardia Vieja, The old Guard, Guarda La Veija, Mind the Old Lady a play on words).

I had my first bife de chorizo and Viv had lasagna (Yawn) a bottle of stout, puddings all just over twenty quid. Only three blocks away, how has it taken us so long to find it?



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