South America | Argentina – Vacation part 1:Buenos Aires, Argentina
We were finally going on vacation! To South America, after months of anticipation! November is the best month, I believe for vacation. First of all, there are so many national holidays in Panama in November, and these dont count against our vacation days. Plus, in Chami, everyone just drinks on these days, and the day before and after. So working in November is really impossible. Furthermore, is the the rainiest, wettest, coldest month where I live. A good time to leave!
So Trisha and I arrived at the airport the morning of November 1st, only to find our plane overloaded. They were asking for volunteers to get bumped to the evening flight in exchange for a $350 voucher and brunch and a room at Hotel Panama. We volunteered. We were mostly thinking about the voucher, but we were really impressed by the buffet at the Hotel, and we stuffed ourselves. That evening we flew out, and eight hours later, at about 4am, landed in Buenos Aires! My first time in South America! And Rebecca and Pablo were there to greet us!
It was great to see them, and nice Pablo had a car. They immeadiately took us on a tour of Buenos Aires, yes, at 5 in the morning, after we really hadnt slept all night. The sun was just rising and the city was beautiful. It was cold, and the architecture was very European. Everyone spoke only Spanish of course, but they resident of Buenos Aires were so tall and light skinned, and their dress was so first-world, as opposed to Panama. Everyone I saw that day looked like they could have walked down the street in Mahomet, Illinois, and not stood out. (I cant say that about Panamanians)
After some searching, we finally found a hostel with 2 open dorm beds, called the BA Stop. It was only a block from Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world, as Argentines mentioned to us several times, and the huge Egyptian obelisk.
We spent a lot of that day resting, but Trisha and I went out that night to La Estancia, a restaraunt that showed off Argentine meat. We ordered a sampler platter, and had some of everything.
This wasnt until almost 10pm, tho. In Argentina, they eat dinner late. This is later than I usually go to bed in Chami! But when in Rome.
The next day, Thursday the 3rd, we went to La Boca with Pablo and Rebecca. This is the part of the city by the river, where the working class lived, and the tango was born. The buildings are like warehouses, and all painted bright colors like red, blue and yellow.
That night, after some deliberation, Trisha and I decided to throw down the money and go see a tango show. The one we opted for, Senor Tango, was the most famous, and included dinner (at 10pm of course). I called attention to my Panamanian accent on accident by ordering the pescao (fish is pescado, but Panamanians dont say the ‘d’) Sitting at our table was also some Brazilians. We were horrified to find we didnt understand a word when they spoke. We had been hoping with our Spanish, we would be able to get by in Brazil, where we were going in about a week. So this would be the first of many times we would worry how we would get along in Brazil.
Senor Tango’s is amazing, a very classy building, walls lined with pictures of celebrities who had been there, like Liza Minelli and the Backstreet Boys, the food was wonderful, and the show left you with no reason to wonder why it is the most famous show. Not only was the dancing incredible, but the whole show was so dramatic! It started with what looked like cavemen in loincloths taking the stage, and starting to fight. Then a cavalryman rode on, on a real horse! He waved the Argentine flag and the crowd cheered! Then the dancing and singing began. The dancers were sometimes even suspended by wires and performing in the air.
People stay up so late here, they dont do to bed like I do at 8pm in Chami. But when in Rome. After the Senor Tango show, we met Pablo and Rebecca and went to Shamrock, a bar with lots of locals and expats, and then on to Million, a wonderful relaxed club that used to be an old three story mansion. I was impressed with myself that Trisha and I didnt come back to the hostel until 3am. We were even more impressed with the Australian guy who came home as we were eating breakfast the next morning. He had been out all night, ate breakfast with us, then cheefully said goodnight at 9am and went to bed.
That day was chilly, we had to wear our fleeces. Trisha and I had our breakfast of pastries and dulce de leche, and walked to the Palacio de Aguas Corrientes. I dont know why, but I was expecting something grand, fountains, or the Bellagio, or whatever, but instead, it was a humble little museum showcasing different types of plumbing stuff. It was funny. Then we walked around San Telmo, a cute artsy part of the city, and then took a tango class. It was a really small class, just Trisha and I, and a good looking instructor, who we both prefered dancing with over the third student, a very short Argentine man with a Napolean complex.
That was Friday, and Friday night, we planned on staying up the entire night. We kicked off the night at Grants Buffet, an all-you-can-eat that has fabulous food of every kind, pasta, meat, salads, deserts. There, we met the host family Rebecca lived with the year she studied abroad in BA. Pablo came, too, as did Danielle, the college junior who is now studying abroad there and living with Rebecca’s family. We lingered there for several hours, (I really ate a lot) before the family and Danielle went home. We went to a nice bar called Jobs next, then early morning hours, a dance club called Castro Rey. We really werent impressed with Castro Rey, the guys there were pretty creepy, but we stayed until the sun came up, like we planned!
Needless to say, we slept all of Saturday. When we finally got up, Rebecca and Pablo took us to a artesan fair in Recolleta and we had some of Argentina’s famous ice cream at Freddos. Later that night we walked around Puerto Madero, a wealthy section of town right on the river. It was pretty cold so we had hot chocolate Argentine style: we were brought glasses of hot milk, and a special chocolate bar that you dunk in and stir, and it melts, making a hot chocolate drink.
Sunday, our last day in Buenos Aires, Pablo took us all to the Feria de Mataderos, a good 40 minutes outside of Buenos Aires. It was a great artesan fair, with traditional food and folk dancing. We had yummy empanadas, beef sandwiches, and wine, and I bought a few things as gifts as well as for myself. Not long after that, Pablo and Rebecca dropped us off at the bus station. Our bus left that evening at 8pm, an overnight to Mendoza!