Thursday, February 28, 2008


I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE! I want to stay here, but the airlines won´t change my ticket!
Please, please, may the workers on Ezeiza go on strike tomorrow!
May my flight be cancelled!
I cannot leave. I just cannot!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

los bondi

Meet my latest crush... :)

Are they not fabulous?
They are probably the most beautiful thing I´ve seen here. Seriously. I fell in love with them the first day, and I have since braved all kinds of inconveniences to travel in them (inside they are just as fascinating and decorative as on the outside).
I have worked out the Guia de bolsillo, which is singularly user-unfriendly. To my knowledge, there is no map where you could see through which streets the buses actually pass - from the Guía you only get a rough idea of the neighbourhood that they are passing through, but you cannot tell which streets, nor where the stops are. And since most streets in Buenos Aires are one-way, when you arrive somewhere and want to take the same line back, you must face the challenge of finding the bus stop in the opposite direction, which can be just about anywhere. It is a tricky business, but not altogether impossible, with the massive cooperation of the locals (who mostly give you loads of interesting, but unfortunately not entirely relevant information about OTHER bus stops -
Question: ´Hello, would you know where the 59 stops, in the direction to Palermo?´
Answer: (helpfully) ´The 59? No idea. But two blocks away from here there is the bus stop of 3 and 112.´
Question: ´Do these go anywhere near Palermo?´
Answer: ´No, no, no.´
But to be fair, if you are lucky, you do meet people who actually take the same bus as you do sometimes, and they help you. The best people to ask have so far proved to be the policemen - they seem to be singularly well informed about where the different buses stop.
Another challenge which taking the colectivos presents is the constant need of change. Coins. Everyone wants them, nobody has them. I think the Central Bank of Argentina ought to give this matter some attention, and perhaps consider issuing more coins. You can only pay for a bus ride by throwing coins into a machine. If you don´t have coins, too bad. Asking people on bus stops for change seems inappropriate (they need it themselves; I have been given a peso for my bus ride, rather then getting it in change of my five pesos bill, because the lady needed the coins she had for tomorrow!).
Nevertheless, impossible as it seemed at first to get enough coins for the public transport, it soon became a kind of a game which I cheerfully joined in with the locals.
The waiter, saying with a pained expression, when I payed a 13.50-pesos bill with a 20 pesos banknote: ´Have you really got no change?´ (a 20 pesos banknote, mind you; it´s not like I wanted to pay one beer with a 100 pesos banknote - which an American tourist at the next table did; and since he spoke no Spanish, the waiter didn´t have a choice and coughed up the change!) ´None at all, I am so sorry´says I, careful not to jingle the 1 and half peso coins in my wallet. ´Ah... all right then...´ he sighs, handing out the change he had had all along, of course.
The rules of the game are: never admit to having change, always ask for it. My man thinks it is a silly game and laughs at my recent obsession with coins, but I now have plenty of coins in my wallet (so many that I will occasionally break the rules and actually give change to someone who needs it:), while he gets to walk a lot:)))

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fast forward

a parenthesis of [my first week in Buenos Aires - recovering from a nasty cold (three days in this climate and I was fine - really don´t see why people complain about the heat, I love it:) and then just messing around, getting the hang of the place, trying to work out the colectivos network (and becoming obsessed with change as a consequence - the buses here certainly deserve a chapter of their own, coming shortly), getting used to speaking Spanish, buying a mate and some yerba to drink in the afternoon in the Jardín Botánico, and going to a couple of milongas - La Viruta, Villa Malcolm, Tan Piola y Cajetilla, Plaza Dorrego - La milonga del Indio, very nice except for the floor, ah well, but spending the afternoon in the Bar de Plaza Dorrego and watching the people passing by was just as good:), my first dances, mostly with Argentine blokes (which is surprising I guess, I was told that I will mostly dance with foreigners here, but I seem to come across more locals then tourists), some wonderful tandas and embraces (you know what I mean, Tina;) some fairly good, some indifferent; only about two were really bad; and buying shoes, shoes, shoes, of course:)]
then another parenthesis containing our trip to the Northwest [fabulous landscape, insane living conditions in the Puna, an altogether different country that seems to have nothing to do with Bs As; flying to Salta, staying there for a while, seeing the track of the Tren de las Nubes, and going up into the Andes, S. Antonio de los Cobres, la Puna, las Salinas Grandes, then S. Salvador de Jujuy and further north to la Quebrada de Humahuaca which is incredibly beautiful]
and so here I am in Buenos Aires, and honestly I like the city more and more. Right from the beginning this place has reminded me - and it still does - of a city where I spent a large part of my childhood and adolescence (the heat, the traffic, and the smog, the modern houses mixed up with older, 19th c. ones without any discernible pattern or purpose, the smells of food and fruits and flowers, the dark-haired amiable people, the courteous men, the chaotic public transport; the only thing I miss sorely is the smell of the sea; the delta of the Rio de la Plata is not worthy of that name.
The funny thing is that that city is an ancient one, its modern buildings standing on the ruins of a 3000-year-old civilization, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the fairly young Buenos Aires.
And I had a feeling of triumph today, as I strolled down Avenida Las Heras and a boy came up to me and asked for directions (and he wasn´t a tourist or a foreigner either) - this is a specialty of mine; in every city I have lived in, within a couple of days people start coming up to me on the street and asking for directions; I just seem to look like I know - and what is best, I did know this time!!! I pointed him to the right direction, and my, was I proud of myself:)
A couple of hours later I walked into a place to buy an empanada; ´What have you got without meat (sin carne)´, I asked. The bloke reacted immediately ´Pollo - ..´ ´No, no, soy vegetariana (with an apologetic smile)´ ´Ah... entonces (names several types of empanadas, ending with La Napoletana)´ I wanted to know what is in La Napoletana (I have learned to be wary); ´Jamon, queso, tomates.´ ´Qué?!´ not sure I really heard what I heard ´Jamon, queso, tomates´ he repeats patiently. ´Ah, no, yo quiero algo sin carne...´ ´Sí, claro (encouragingly).´ I have a moment of confusion, but then decide to be assertive ´Jamon, pero, es carne!´ He gives me an incredulous smile, and then it dawns on him ´Aaaaah.... Sí...´
I got a caprese, and it was excellent. But, honestly...
Will be good and post some more, if I have the time.. The thing is, there are so many things going on, and I need to absorb them first..

Friday, February 01, 2008

Quote du jour

Dijo Susana Miller:
(El tango) es primero que todo un "abrazo que camina".
Au fond, c´est ce qu´on aime le plus, n´est-ce pas?