Tag Archives: Guardia Vieja

Cat attack

A good start to the day, we got some place mats and all the food for lunch, on our first sortie.
I left Viv to go back and I went to the Correo. That’s the electric bill paid, again no problems. There is a hairdresser on the same block on Corrientes, got my hair done for $70. That is half the price at home. I even stopped for some salad at the verduria.
Now, suddenly there are Pagofacil everywhere and Peluqueria on every corner. A bit like the busses really.
Everything done by eleven, perhaps I should go and look for a shoe rack while I am winning, but maybe not as Janis is coming for lunch.
Viv whipped up a great pasta and I prepared a salad. Janis kept us talking for hours, then it was time to rush off to Nuevo Chique.
Geoff and Pauline were there again, apparently she was ill last week and that is why she was missing.
Danced with all my usual ladies, but missed Pauline. They had to rush off and I did not see them go.
The drivers on the collectivos must think we are strange. We always ask for Guardia Vieja and then get off at Corrientes. The thing is halfway home we decide to call into La Riena for something tasty to take home with us. They had cheese straws and scones again, well you just have to.
Viv saw the cat as we entered, I did not. Cats, it seems, enjoy annoying dog people, this one was no exception. It decided to pounce and grab my leg as I passed. I nearly jumped out of my skin. For a few seconds I had no idea what was holding my leg or why.
I probably won’t sleep tonight, cat nightmares.
Money is getting short and it is difficult to get more over here, so Janis told me about Azimo. It looks a simple system, until it asked for an image of my Passport, that took three attempts, as I do not have a scanner here. My next problem is that it needs to verify my card. We are out of banking hours, so I have messaged my bank. I need to wait now and see what happens. Something else to loose sleep over.

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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.

Saturday.

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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Soltero

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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Guardia Vieja, or Guardia Vieja?

Off to find some music today. We are doing it piecemeal as my memory is not good enough to carry all that we have.

Our first stop was Musimundo, the music in here is in chaos. I think they are running down the music side and concentrating on white goods. We  found one CD we wanted “Grandes del Tango, Orquesta Typica Victor” a double album at thirty eight pesos, but as it was so chaotic we left it at on the shelf.

Next stop was Zivals, at least the music is in some kind of order here and if they did not have what we want, we would not have to go through every CD to find out. We found “Mi Evocacion, Adolfo Carrabelli” and also “Grandes del Tango, Orquesta Typica Victor” but it was forty eight pesos here, so we left it and just bought Adolfo Carabelli . Then we went back over the road to Musimundo for Orquesta Typica Victor. Well we saved ten pesos not to be sniffed at especially as we were going this way anyway.

We wandered down Callao and passed another music shop. Bit of a dead loss this one all the same titles but at silly prices, not a one below fifty nine pesos. Obviously they were hoping to catch tourists unawares; well you don’t catch this one. We set off again.

Now there is a little music shop further down called Notorious. I have found Cds in there I could find nowhere else and it has good coffee. As we entered there was a guy guarding the passage through to the coffee shop. It seems they had a concert on in there but we could have a coffee if we did not go straight through. Well although we could not see the show we could see the girl singing and hear some wonderful Bossa Nova. Anyway we could not sit all day we had CDs to buy. There was nothing here that I was looking for but I came across a CD of Francisco Canaro in Japan, this was news to me and I had to have it. As I said they have some unusual stuff in here.

Next stop was El Ateneo, I didn’t hold out much hope but we had to look. Again nothing is in any order so we had to go through all the shelves, list in hand Viv started at one end I started at the other. We found no more Carrabeli but did find one gem “Yo soy el Tango, Anibal Troilo and Fiorentino” I was after just one track really “Malena” if I go home with nothing else, this will make my trip worthwhile. I have it playing as I write, heaven.

We have turned down a free lunch today, because we were double booked, so from here we were heading back to Luba’s house. It was still fairly early so we elected to walk. At Pueyrredon we walked a block away from Santa Fe, this meant we were now on streets we had never walked before.

I thought it was all new but we arrived at the back of Plaza Monsenor de Andrea were we had stopped before in a previous trip (Somos Cartoneros ). We meandered along Viv complaining all the time that we must be miles away as she does not recognize any road names, but I was pretty sure of my directions. Sure enough we came to Soler and we could just follow this now until we arrived at Cebra the big toy shop opposite Luba’s house. 

We pressed the buzzer and were treated to Luba’s cheery greeting. Then we waited for the door to be openend. It wasn’t Luba who came however but Juan, our old tango teacher. I was sort of expecting this. Viv tried to go in but Juan said “No, hay algun a mostrar” and dragged us up the street. As I said I had an inkling of what was coming but I feigned great surprise at his new car. It was not a model I have seen before, it looked like a four by four but he assured me it was two wheel drive with a diff lock. He never believes that I understand and in the end I drew him a diagram to show I understood.

Luba had beer and coffee and soft drinks and so much cake. The old friends back together Luba, Juan, Marriela and we two. She put a piece of each cake on a plate for us, and when she offered me more, did the same again. I was only expecting one piece and struggled to eat it all.

The conversation went along at a jolly pace, a bit of Spanish so that Juan understood interspersed with English for Viv (and me sometimes). It all went fine until I mentioned Christina. (The Argentine president).  Now Argentines are a political lot and everything got a bit heated. The pace of the argument was just too much for me to keep up with, so I engaged Juan in a conversation about engines old and new until things calmed down.

He also spent some time trying to get me to pronounce my Spanish properly. Guardia Vieja still sounded like Guardia Vieja to me, but he thought it sounded better, so who am I to argue.

Eventually Juan and Marriela  had to go as they were giving a lesson and they offered us a lift. Well a chance to travel in Juan’s new car, how could I refuse?

We were now at a loose end we looked at all the possibilities and for some reason decided to try a late milonga at El Arranque.

But first because we had missed our free lunch we needed feeding. We have a favorite place that we often stop at on Callao 249, called Joan Miro. We have never eaten there before so it was a good time to try.

It all got a bit confusing but we ordered the special “chicken and chips” to you, I won’t try to tell you what its description in castillano was.

We were taken aback when the starter arrived (pate with toast). Then we had bottled beer and the chicken was covered in cheese and herbs, it was all delicious. I said to Viv “We don’t know the price, I think this is going to cost us” So I was surprised when we got the bill only 120 pesos.

We arrived at El Arranque at about quarter past, the door was not open and there was a queue outside. The fact that there was no one we recognized should have sent warning signs, but when the door opened we went in anyway.

The same waiter who is there in the day time smiled at us but he never warned us. We sat at our table and waited. For half an hour nothing happened. Then we had a tanda of awful tango we danced but thought better was to come. After the Cortina they played cumbia and then they played cumbia and then even more cumbia. In fact it went on for forty minutes. We stayed two and a half hours for three lousy tandas. I was ready to go but they put on some meringue so we danced that and then left.

Viv dragged me out quickly before I could accost someone and say “that is not a milonga” we set out for our bus home.

Now we were near to Rivadavia and from here could see the stop where we normally catch our 168. So we would get advance warning of its arrival. A policeman leaned on the bus stop obviously also waiting, but it did not come. The bin men came, and as they grabbed all the rubbish dust and dirt flew about all over, our policeman just stepped back.

After half an hour he had had enough and caught a taxi. He should have waited, ten minutes later our overcrowded bus finally arrived. Now emboldened I asked for Guardia Vieja and was finally understood. Shame of it was that the bus was so crowded we got off at Corrientes anyway.

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Pericles

It was a nice sunny day and as usual we were up late, so distant parts of the city were out. As they have a lot of street markets at the weekend, I thought we could walk over to Palermo.

Pericles had just left a post on BAexpats about walking, so I responded that we were about to walk over to Palermo. As we walked over he got in contact via my cell and we arranged to meet in about an hour. More than enough shopping time for me.

Pericles for those who do not know was the driving force that got me an apartment in Buenos Aires. This started as a purely business arrangement, but like some many here, he remains a friend.

In the centre Viv found a scarf that she liked, it was not expensive, but I am starting to think Argentine and $50ar seemed too much to me. Viv won the day as she always does.

We found the bar where we were to meet and there was no sign of Pericles, so we searched around for a good table, and decided on a spot on the roof terrace. We watched the street but missed him entering. He sent me a text saying he was here, so did I.

After a further walk around I found him and he joined us on the roof. As I have said before, life is a bit more hardy in Wales, so we were quite comfortable up here, I’m not so sure Pericles was.

We talked for hours, it was such a pleasant change, usually time is of the essence and he is rushing off to an appointment somewhere. Eventually we had to go, we had overstayed our welcome (we only drank coffee). Pericles walked with us as far as his place and we walked on to do some more shopping.

At night we returned to Club Fulgor again. The numbers were down considerably, but we still had great time. As I type this out I am listening to the CD we won in the raffle. Suddenly we are getting all sorts of freebies. We did almost every tanda, the chacarera and even joined in for the cumbia.

From one of my commentators I have had some great info on the buses (colectivos) and I used this to get there. Unfortunately we panicked and got off the bus too soon, but it still saved us some footwork. I had the route planned for our return but Viv decided she wanted something nice to eat so we walked. Even in Buenos Aires there is not much open at one in the morning, but Viv’s mood was considerably lifted after Fulgor so I let her enjoy the walk. About two blocks into Guardia Vieja we did find a kiosco open and walked the rest of the way eating a Mega. Dancing till one $10ar drinks for two $22ar walking home on a warm night eating icecream priceless.

(appologies to mastercard)

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Feria de Mataderos

This has been a particularly bad tango week for me, I am working extra shifts which are accumulating for my next Argentina trip. No Tango at all this week, and it is unlikely that I will even make Dans salsa class, so as promised I will tell the story of another of my Buenos Aires Photos.

The search for a property was not going well, every place we looked at was either too far off completion or there was something we did not like. After yet another fruitless viewing we stopped in a cafe on Corrientes for coffee.

We talked about all the places that we had visited, and Pericles asked if we had been to The Feria de Mataderos yet. “Never heard of it ” we said. Pericles said it was on every Sunday and we should go. He called the waiter over and asked how to get there. “it is simple” he said “just catch the no 92 collectivo (bus) on Guardia Vieja it will take you right to it”

So Sunday morning fresh from Luba’s and filled with croissants and toast, we walked the ten or eleven blocks to Guardia Vieja. Still not fully aware of how things work, we believed catching a bus would be easy. As we arrived on the street we looked for a bus stop, there was simply no sign.

As we walked up the street a number 92 passed us by, with obviously no intention of stopping. We walked fully the length of the street without seeing a single stop, and at the far end found a Jumbo (one of Argentina’s largest hypermarkets ) Viv was excited at this, as we had by now decided on our apartment which was about eight blocks away.

Viv insisted we go in and look around. Inside they had everything we might need, from fridges and micro waves to cutlery, from bedding to food. Viv at least was happy, I was not. I was getting fed up of walking up and down the street being passed by buses that had absolutely no intention of stopping for two extranjeros.

We walked back down Guardia Vieja, passed the point where we had started, when close to our apartment we saw one of the  buses  stop and someone alight. It was too late for us to catch it, but at least we could see where it had stopped. At the “bus stop” there was no sign, but a tree had once stood at this spot. All we can assume is that the stop sign had been on the tree, and there is no need to replace it, as everyone knows it was there.

So we waited at the tree stump, and sure enough in time the next 92 arrived and stopped for us, hurrah we were on a bus. No idea what to do now I asked the driver “?quanto es a Mataderos?” he threw his head back and almost spat at us “$1.60 en el moneda” we looked behind him and saw the coin machine, I stuck $1.60 in and said “uno o los dos” he just threw his head back again and said “listo” so I guess it was for the two of us.

Something else we gleaned from this exchange was, we would get no help with our destination. The bus sped away along narrow streets, we turned one way then the other, and very soon had no idea where we were. Often we would pass large gatherings of people, and debated whether this could be it, but deciding that as there were no horses, it probably was not.

Eventually we passed a large open space with market type tents and hundreds of people milling about, I asked a girl on the bus if this was the Feria de Mataderos and she said “si”.

Getting off any bus quickly is never easy, crowded Argentine collectivos are no exception, and we missed the stop. Bus stops and buses are the same the world over, when you want one, they are never around, then three come at once. I think we had to walk back from somewhere near the Andies, but eventually we arrived.

The entrance to the ferria was lined with stalls, they sold all the usual tat, but also fruit and vegetables, bread, kitchen utensils, and best of all steak butties. Viv was not enamored with the idea of eating on the street, so we dodged into a small restaurant. As usual here, when you go for a light snack you end up eating enough to make a pig sick.

When we had finished we waddled off with our bellies dragging, to see some of the sights. At the centre of everything was a stage and as we passed a band were just finishing a tango number. We were suprised to see them pack up afterwards, not much of a show  I thought. Five minutes later a different band were on playing folk music, this went on all afternoon, there was a different band every fifteen minutes.

Further down the road the gauchos were riding their horses, going like lunatics and taking something off a scaffold as they passed. Somebody stood by and judged them as they did this and somehow one of them was judged the winner.

At the end of a long enjoyable day we had to catch the bus back. We were now ready for the moneda, and got on the bus like we did it every day.  It was now approaching rush hour and as we made our way back into town the bus got more and more crowded. Everything was ok until a drunken youth got on, he fell about causing chaos, he was poked at every turn by irate old ladies with sticks. Then he threw up over the back of one old dear, this proved too much for her and she attacked him with her stick, kept beating him until she pushed him off at the next stop, without waiting for the bus to come to a standstill.

As we came into town I realised that we were on a different route to when we left, now I had no idea where I was, I recognised nothing. Then we passed Gascon (I saw the street sign) and again we missed the stop. It is probably fortunate that we have come to enjoy long walks in Buenos Aires as yet again it seemed to take an age to get to the next stop.

Finally; Check out the video of the little guy with the big horse.

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