Argentina, November 2005
Day 12 Saturday (continued)
The weather the last couple of days has been quite warm and this is still spring. I would hate to be here during their summer. Oregon's climate suits me much better. The weather in Buenos Aires is like more like the weather in Los Angeles where I was raised and where I now avoid in the dog days of summer.
For dinner, we again went to La Federal where we had eaten the previous evening. I again had the tenderloin but this time with the mushrooms and was not at all disappointed. A woman swept through and sang to the diners for donations. She had a strong contralto voice and Denis asker her if she knew Gardel's Por Una Cabeza, which she did and sang with great feeling. We relaxed over dinner then stopped across the street at our favorite post-supper beverages. Since the milonga that was the kickoff for Pulpo's Tango Week didn't start until 11:00PM, we had some time to kill.
The milonga was interesting and was populated by some very fine dancers and some very famous old milongueros who wee introduced later in the evening. At different times, both Pulpo and Luiza came to our table with hugs and kisses. Our party was fading but we hung in until after 2:00 in hopes of seeing the promised instructor performances. Alas, there was no sign that they would happen in our lifetimes so we left and walked back to the hotel. As we passed Carlos and Romina's place, they were having a party and saw us walking by. Carlos called to us and invited us in. Roy and I went in and stayed about a half hour or so. Carlos and Romina danced a few numbers, more for fun than as a performance though they were smooth and very skillful.
When Roy and I got back, we discovered that a woman was sleeping on the fold-out sofa-bed in the living room. She had apparently shown up at the door shortly after the others had returned and she had expected to have a room waiting for her. Alas, all were filled but the soft-bed was quickly made up for her. We were cautioned not to walk in on her unexpectedly in a middle of the night sojourn in search of specialized plumbing.
Day 13 Sunday
I got up at 10:00, showered, and had a hasty breakfast before setting forth for my 11:00 lesson. Since it was my last lesson, I was disappointed that it was also the least useful. Carlos spent most of the lesson telling me things about music that I probably know better than he does. We did very little dancing and even very little relating the music to the dance. I was rescued to some extent when Nicole showed up for her lesson and told them that I was a musician. It wasn't a complete waste, however, but I would rather have concluded my time with them with something more useful or at least more fun.
After Nicole and Roy each had a private lesson, Denis, Lynn, and Nicole went shopping while Roy and I went to Plaza Dorrego to have lunch and check out some local artists at the street fair. I was hoping to find a tango-related painting that appealed to me. Much of the tango art was tourist-oriented junk. Alas, the only ones I liked were ones I had seen earlier that were out of my price range.
In the evening we tried to find either of two restaurants that were mentioned in Denis and Lynn's guidebook. They must have closed since the book was written and we ended up in a restaurant where we had a completely uninspiring set of dishes, a disappointment for our last dinner in Buenos Aires. Still, the company was good and we laughed a lot. The trip was winding down and we called it an early night rather than trying to fit in one last milonga.
Day 14 Monday
Our last day in Buenos Aires had us up relatively early and we got packed and all of our luggage in Denis and Lynn's room so that all the rooms could be prepared for the next guests. We then went out to get in some final shopping. Our first stop was the shoe store where I had purchased my new shoes. Denis found a pair he liked and in his size so he got them and we went to the local post office so Lynn and Nicole could mail some post cards. We caught the subway to go to the Florida street shopping area. On the way, a man grabbed Denis' new shoes and bolted for the subway door after the train started moving. He was gone in a flash while we were left stunned. I had noticed the guy earlier acting odd but didn't think much of it at the time. A man came up to us on the subway and apologized for the bad behavior of his countryman.
We continued our shopping, mostly for gifts, clothes, and music then caught another subway back. We again stopped in the same shoe store and Denis picked up another paid of shoes identical to the ones that had been stolen. The proprietor was surprised to see us and she also apologized for the theft.
Our final meal was a late lunch again at La Federal where we had had some of our best experiences. Several days earlier, Denis said that once you've had a perfect meal at a restaurant, you shouldn't go back because you were almost guaranteed to be disappointed. Well, we should have heeded this sage advice because that's what happened. It wasn't a bad meal but our expectations were high, perhaps too high.
We took two taxis to the airport, Roy and I in the first and the others in the second. We parted company amidst hugs and kisses at the airport because I was on a different flight, a couple of hours later. The flight, or should I say flights since I was on four, home was blessedly uneventful. Exciting events while in the air are not my idea of a good time.
I finally arrived home about 5:30PM on Tuesday and after spending some quality time with my especially affectionate calico cat, Cherry, called my dad to tell him I arrived home safely. Home, eat, relax, unpack, sleep. It was over.
Perhaps the best part of my visit to the Paris of South America was getting to know my fellow travelers better. They were each one a delight to spend time with and this trip will remain a gem in my memory for the rest of my days.