With the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words, this entry has a lot of pictures.
Since I last wrote, I have been very busy. And hot. Even when not busy, I’ve been hot. If you’ve been a regular reader, you may recall my taunting the gods that we were having unseasonably cool weather when we first arrived. That has given way and we’re all sweaty messes.
On Friday night, we tangoed. Unlike in the United States, there were no groups of single women foolishly thinking there would be single guys at a dance lesson. Here, there were groups of single guys foolishly thinking there will be single women at a dance lesson. With a shortage of women, I ended up learning the steps with a French guy a friend described as “very pretty”. Indeed. However, I made him ask me to dance twice. I’m no floozy.
Once the lesson was over, he wound up dancing with a lot of women and I wound up sweating in a corner. Evidently, I was adjudged the weaker of our partnership. Pictures may exist but they are owned by people whose grades depend on me. So good luck getting them. (Yes, I danced a bit. I don’t think I broke any toes (theirs, not mine)).
The club where the lesson was held was incredible. It had a really cool style and I could have stayed there and listened to music for hours were it not the fact that it was 417 degrees (doesn’t really matter the scale at that point).
I got home at the, for Buenos Aires, very early hour of 1:30 and was asleep in less than an hour. Sadly, the sun hits my eye at 0640 every morning and so I was up early as well on Saturday morning. I beat it to El Ateneo where I planned to have breakfast. Sadly, despite visiting the bookstore and cafe often, I’d never noticed they have no breakfast menu. I had a couple of medialunas (small ham and cheese sandwiches) and an amount of coffee clearly deemed unhealthy by my server. I then walked around Buenos Aires for hours. I estimate I logged about 9 miles. Not a large total until you realize it was over 90F with high humidity.
I spent a couple of hours, as well, at MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) which is a wonderful museum. First, it was air conditioned. Second, it had free wifi. And, finally, it had some incredible pieces and ample descriptions.
I made it to my final target, Cafe Tortoni, a little after 4. My students had raved about this historic cafe and I was eager to try it. They evidently told a few other people as the guy at the door said it would be about an hour. I decided I had food and water at home so jumped on the Subte to head back. I needed to be home in time to get ready for soccer at 6:30. I scored my second career hat trick and first since 1979. I suspect the students may be going easy on me.
Buenos Aires has fantastic art. I’ve written about the street art and I’ve visited two excellent art museums, Belle Arte and MALBA. In addition, there is just a lot more art around than I’m used to seeing. I’m neither world traveler enough nor art connoisseur enough to judge the city relative to great art cities of the world but it must be up there. To wit, all the subway stations have great art on the walls. Whether it is street art or commissioned (or both) I can’t say. But it’s nice to have something pretty and cool to look at while you melt.
I wonder how it translates?
Looking at the tops of the Recoleta Cemetery from an adjacent mall. I went in the mall only for this photo, not because of the air conditioning.
JPII making sure we’re all behaving.
I jaywalked Libertador. Soy Argentino.
More subway art.
We met at Di Tella Sunday morning at 0900 for a bus to El Tigre, an “island” in the river delta north of the city. The Lujan and Parana meet in, more or less, Buenos Aires to form the Rio de la Plata. Before they do, they form an enormous delta with wild wetlands and innumerable water ways. We met to walk the nature preserve and learn a little natural history. And then we walked 19.87 miles to find an ice cream place. I didn’t partake but they had free agua con gas. Like Buenos Aires itself, no one wanted to leave.
The preserve was beautiful. We had a lot of city folk on the trip who didn’t appreciate the spiders and rodent droppings (the largest rodent in the world, the Capybara, lives here) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may have invented a venomous flying bug that likes to fly up peoples’ noses. For sure there were bugs doing this but I’m pretty sure than ends worse for the bug. The heat and humidity were formidable.
Another nice treat were clear skies so we could all follow the partial solar eclipse in this region. It peaked around 60% for us. I brought some mylar solar viewers and we passed them around like mate.
I realized I haven’t been showing many pictures of students and thought that, perhaps, I should convince you I’m working down here. Here they’re playing a game called mafia, loudly, and annoying a charming young couple. The poor guy clearly thought he’d brought his lady friend to a quiet, secluded spot. Make the world America. I will say, in all honesty, that this game followed a pretty spirited discussion of cyclohexane chair conformations at the far end of the table. Including people drawing structures on napkins. I was too far away to know how it got started. I’m still a little dumbfounded.
A panda would love this place.
More evidence of students.
I can’t post all my photos, obviously. The preserve was a really beautiful place. I thought this one of the better scenes and also representative.
A toucan in rehab.
Tomorrow, Monday, we head to an estancia for horseback riding and asado. Perhaps a pool. Early estimates on perspiration are in the tens of liters. And, then, on Tuesday, we leave for Santiago. Where, our alert system tells us, there will be no potable water. Hey, 8 million people in the desert without water, what could go wrong? I am assured this will be resolved prior to our arrival.
So, there may not be a blog tomorrow. I’ll try but I haven’t yet packed anything. If I’m signing off from Buenos Aires, I’ll close with saying that we’ve loved the city and the folks at Di Tella who have been better to us than we probably deserve. Buenos Aires is a fantastic city and very easy to enjoy with minimal Spanish. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.
Postscript Bloody hell! I forgot the story that gave the piece its title. This morning, as I said, the bus left at 0900. I planned to have breakfast at the little cafe that is about 2/3 of the way from my apartment to Di Tella. The internet assured me it would open at 7 which gave me ample time to enjoy a coffee or 8 and have a bite to eat. On my walk to the cafe, I noticed that nothing was open. To be fair, this was the first Sunday I’d gone out in the city so I just chalked it up to normal Sunday. I felt confident; the internet, after all, never lies. My cafe is on Libertador and is usually very busy. However, when I arrived, the cafe was solidly closed. No signs of life. Their wifi was up so I could poke around the neighborhood and I found a number of cafes. None were open. It turns out that this is a holiday weekend, the beginning of Carnival. Places are either opening very late or not at all.
I’ve ranted and raved at the students not to eat in American chains. Not that those chains are bad (but they’re also not great) but that one should experience authentic local flavor. However, when authentic local flavor is closed and you are hungry and uncaffeinated, you give thanks to any god or gods you believe in that the good old American, open your store no matter how sacred the holiday, spirit is present in places. Starbucks opened at 8, a quarter mile from my favorite cafe, and it was packed with locals.