Going up north.. where it´s hot????
"Umm... I´d like a slab of meat please..."
I just passed the most heartwrenching scene: a dark alley of a shanty town full of garbage strewn all over the sidewalks and streets, poverty stricken families with distant stares of hopelessness, a look of someone with nothing to do, nothing that they can do, completely desperate with no work to take care of their family. Starving dogs meander, a girl of 6 or 7 alone and about to cry. This is one of the slums of Buenos Aires. And, if you were to walk about two blocks from here in the right direction you would run into the richest area in Buenos Aires. Interesting. It´s as if someone just drew a line and dropped poor people on one side and rich people on the other. It´s about 8:15 pm and I am on a bus headed to Posadas, a small town in the north of Argentina. It´s a pit stop on the way to the Iguazu falls. I´ve been in the city long enough to know that it is time for me to go. I´ve had some great times here but the whole place is just too cold for me, too rushed. It wasn´t until I went to Uruguay that I realised how much sweeter and welcoming smaller places can be. About 2 weeks ago I started a spanish school in the center. It was nice and very professional but the classes seem to be geared more towards rapid learning of basics than more extensive learning for someone that already knows basics. However, it was great because it got me out of the apartment and I also met a FANTASTIC girl named Tania. After the 2nd day of school I moved out of Gary´s. WAY TOO MUCH SMOKING! I actually got sick from it and am STILL trying to get my voice back. I moved into a cool hostel called Palermo House. Tania and I started hanging out. She came out to Palermo (a super safe neighborhood supposedly) and we went to a parrilla called La Cabrera. This place is AMAZING!!!!! Best parrilla in BsAs. We ordered the Ojo de Bife (a great cut of steak) to split (it´s friggin huge!) and some potatoes with eggs on top (sounds weird but you´d totally scarf it!). It comes with all of these little things to eat with your steak, almost like sauces. Some are purees of apple, pumpkin, or potatoe. Some are little dishes of whole roasted garlic. About 12 different things. After the exquisite dinner we went to Salon Canning for some dancing. Tania had never been to a milonga or danced tango before. This happened to be a great night to go there beacuse they were having a special milonga due to the World Tango Festival being held in BsAs. They had a live band playing really great modern tango. Awesome dancers wearing their most impressive tango gear. It was gorgeous. We ran into some other people from the school coincidentally. A guy from Germany, a guy from the US, and a guy from Brazil? Anyway, when the crowd died down Tania and I got asked to dance. We held our own. She actually took salsa lessons for 1 year and she used to dance tap/jazz for 15 years. So, that was fun! We left and headed back to the hostel. We had a scary encounter with a creepy drunk guy that followed us but being in a pair worked to our advantage. We are a great travel team. It taught us to always take a taxi after dark, even in safe Palermo. I snuck Tania into my hostel and she stayed the night. We got together for dinner at a Mexican resturaunt (I make better molè!) and more tango (La Viruta was pretty empty so we got a free lesson from a sweet tanguero).
"Actually, I´m not really into girls. Thanks though"
Finally on Friday we met up for a day at the spa. The first task was to figure out how to ask for a facial... hmm... task one accomplished (¨Clean my face¨seemed to work) We were ushered into a changing areas and handed two towels. One to wrap around us and another to dry off with after the sauna. We went to the ¨Baño Turco¨ to use the sauna/steam room/lounge area. So, people here aren´t real shy. Even when they aren´t that cute. Those women were just walking around totally in the buff. Finally Tania and I said ¨What the hell? If not here, where?¨So, not just taking the towels off because we aren´t THAT brave, we simply flashed a couple of times.. heehee. It was finally massage time. This is when the little sweet massuse lady politely informed me that I would be toweless during this part (she informed me of this by ripping my towel off of me when I walked in with a giant smile on her face). The massage commenced and at one point her hands were so high on my thigh that I thought she was hitting on me. Just before I was ready to scream for help, it was facial time. Brief but nice. Tania had to rush out before me. I took a shower and then got my hair did : ) It was lovely. I have never had someone pay so much attention to my hair before. Later that night I went out to dinner with Javier at this AWESOME spot. He has great taste in resturaunts. Prior to that though he took me by two properties that he is redoing for a big client. He had left some papers there that he had to pick up. The buildings were GREAT and I got to kind of wonder around them while he scurried looking for his papers. It was cool to see these old places in the middle of being refurbished and modernized. Then, off to Central, the cool dinner spot. It had gorgeous ambiance. The building is an old photo studio that still has nice black and white modern photos on the walls. The space is white with glass tables and brushed steel accessories. There are animal fur rugs in neutral colors and there is an entire wall of sofa-like seating in neutral browns with loads of pillows. The kitchen is open and extends along the opposing wall. Outside there is terrace seating with vine covered walls. The whole place is lit by tealight candles. The food was excellent, including the molten chocolate cake. Nice night.
"No Señor Hairy Back, she´s not feeling you."
The next night Tania and I met in Recoleta for dinner. We chose a great dinner spot on the sidewalk. There was a harpist playing and lots of good people watching to be done. One steak, salad, and terribly cute waiter later, and we were on our way (via taxi, mom) to a club called Million. REALLY NEAT SPOT! It´s an old mansion converted into a club. It has a huge outdoor garden and all of these funky light shows in the different rooms. You can draw on the walls with lazers and they take photos of patrons and project them onto the wall, then draw on them with lazers. Really weird and cool. We ran into the same fellow students (started thinking they were stalking us, j/k) and met some other Americans there on business. A bunch of us decided to go to another club called Crobar after a while. It´s much larger and the music was GREAT. A bunch of electronic and house. The place was absolutely packed. The only drawback is that at every corner there was some guy trying to accost us. One guy in particular liked Tania and kept chatting her up. Well, she went to the bathroom (escorted by a friend of ours so that weirdo wouldn´t follow her) and this guy stood in front of me. I watched while he took his sweater off, to reveal a normal ol´t-shirt and the HAIRIEST back I have ever seen! It was so hairy that I think his t-shirt didn´t even lay flat on his back, there was probably a layer of hair acting as a barrier for his skin. It actually came up out of his collar. ICK! So, when Tania returned we snuck away. Around 5am we went home. I was so afraid that I would not wake up for our trip to Colonia the next day that I didn´t sleep. I just stayed up and went to the port around 8am. I met Tania for our boat at 9am. For more on my Uruguay trip, you´ll have to look at the Uruguay page : )
"My kind of house party ; )"
So, returned to the city after my lovely little escape to Uruguay. I was pretty beat but also starving and completely craving La Cabrera´s yummy steak. So, I took a cab from the boat to La Cabrera, planted myself at Chique´s table (that´s right, my own personal waiter at Cabrera, got his card and nickname, what!), and proceeded to order a slab of meat with a side of wine : ) I dined solo but about 20 minutes into it another solo diner was seated next to me. Guy from Ireland, knew no Spanish. So, I hooked a brother up, helped him read the menu, order, and generally not feel like a big putz. After dinner a group of 2 girls and 2 guys (Americans, one living in BsAs named Jeff, the others visiting) introduced themselves and invited us out for drinks at a nearby bar. We went, the bar was a little hole in the wall, really cool place. So, I ended up chatting with a really interesting local named Javier (yes, another Javier) who is the lead singer for a rock band in S. America. I decided he would be the perfect tour guide to show me around La Boca (not a good neighborhood for a solo tourist but fine if you are with a local, especially a tough looking one like him). The next day I ran some errands (bought an opera ticket to Teatro Colon and made dinner plan pre-show with some British friends) and hung out with Tania for her last night in BsAs. Thursday I met with Javier and we took the bus to Boca (these darn locals make the bus thing look so easy!). It quite possibly has the dirtiest river I have ever seen, however the awesome, colorful, fun ¨El Caminito¨ totally makes up for it. The houses are so bright and there is tango music oozing from every door. Of course there are about 40 billion tourists meandering but the great thing is that being with Javier I was able to venture slightly away from the main drag and go to an ancient pizzeria where they serve up slices so cheesy that you feel like a piece of roquefort when you leave. It was a truly lovely beginning to the day. Later I rested up a bit and then headed to a party that Jeff was throwing. Well, apparently Jeff is pretty well off. He had a gorgeous apartment right out of Elle Design or Veranda magazine. Oh, make that 2 apartments. He had rented the apartment on the top floor of the building too because it has a pretty view of the city. There were loads of interesting people at this party from all over. Lots of Argentines of all ages, some young German filmmakers, a Southafrican something or other guy, some Swiss chicks, me, and the other Americans. One of Jeff´s American friends is a chef and wine consultant and so he made a lavish feast and the wine was flowing all evening. We were talking up a storm in several languages simultaneously, dancing tango to tango electronnico, switching from white to red wine, and passing the hours like minutes. Before we knew it it was 9am (the party started at 10pm the night before). What fun!!!!!! I made friends with one of the German filmmakers and we made plans to hang the next day in the parks a bit.
"¨Experiencing¨ Teatro Colon"
So, Friday went to the pretty rose garden in Buenos Aires (if I had known that this existed I would have been able to cope a lot quicker in BsAs) with Felix, the German. We lounged and talked the sleepy talk of people that stayed up too late the night before. Then, I rested up for Teatro Colon. I met my Brit girls at a pretty little restuarant called Lele de Troya. Very nice ambiance and in my neighborhood. We had a few giggles and then headed off to the theatre. Well, I would love to say that my Teatro Colon experience was amazing and awe-inspiring. Nope. Actually, The ticket said 8:30pm, the show actually started at 8pm. We were 20 minutes late (apparently if a show is 4 hours it is a known thing that it starts at 8, no matter what the ticket says... I love argentina) which meant that I could sit in my good seat until the next intermission. So, I watched part of the opera (trying SOOOOO hard not to fall asleep from my prior night of fun). Then when intermission hit I ran downstairs to grab a coffee with the Brits. The cafe was so packed that noone had time to take my order. Then, as intermission was ending I scurried back upstairs, got there before it started, but still was ¨too late¨ to go to my seat and had to sit in another one that was not mine. So, at the next intermission around 11pm I decided that I had had enough of an experience and me and the Brits, who were also yawning but more because of the Opera and not because of their prior night, went and got coffee. We departed and the next day I hit some touristy sights solo. I went over to the famous Recoleta Cemetary (very cool experience!), the Floralis Generica sculpture, random but cool, and the Japonese Gardens, also random but cool. Then I took myself out for one last helado in BsAs (ok, maybe not the last, but the last for at least a week or two!). I packed up my stuff and headed off to the bus station to board a bus for Posadas, my stop before heading the rest of the way north to Puerto Iguazu.