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Old friends in Buenos Aires

ARGENTINA | Monday, 22 December 2008 | Views [1914] | Comments [2]

t was always going to be a challenge to meet Marcos. I had taken the precaution of trying to text him suggesting we meet at the train terminal but without a phone it wasn't going to be easy. We spoke briefly and arranged to meet outside McDonalds but it was most appropriate that we met at the butcher counter in the local supermarket. We were in Tigre, the delta of the massive Rio and we were going to spend the day with Marcos and his wife Suzie, baby Aaron and Suzie's mom and brother in a river house they had rented for their Christmas holidays. It seemed a long way to come from Co. Cork but there you go.

Marcos had been one of my first and best friends when I came to Buenos Aires. Eventually I moved into his apartment when he ironically went to live in Ireland, spending a Christmas with my parents sleeping in my bed. It had been a few years since we had met up and I was looking forward to taking up the Argentenian role of cooking the asado in his house. Funny, we always seemed to have a role reversal thing going on – his Irish is way better than mine but I know how to pull a parrilla together.

We bought our groceries and boarded the river-taxi-boat (MOT number 22) to get to their house. Tigre is a beautiful place an hour North of BA which, set in the delta with its myriad of islands is a world away from the hustle of the city. It was sweltering hot and the river seemed very low. The house was gorgeous, built on stilts to withstand the spring floods and totally wooden. It was slightly bizarre being with a very Irish family making tea and worrying about where the local church was and how they would get to Christmas mass. The only way to get to of from the house was by boat and they sadly did not have one.

I prepared the coals and Marcos served Mate. The coals slowly gained temperature and pretty much everyone took a nap. Claire and I did attempt to find a land based path to freedom but failed, caught up in the choking quagmire of reeds and scrub. The asado of chicken, asado de tira, morcilla,provolone cheese, corn on the cob, sweet potato and of course normal potato went down well, it being Suzie's family's first one (so no pressure!). We played cacho, reminisced and drank wine in the evening before retiring to the heat of the inside of the house to sleep.

Aaron behaved well all night and we woke up refreshed to go down to the mooring to wait for the river bus. The problem was we didn't know when it came and the only way to hail it was to flag it down. In fact no-one had actually seen it or gotten it yet. It was fine though, it was cool and shady by the river and after about 2 hours the pretty wooden passenger boat (MOT 23), complete with a conductor chugged up to the mooring.

The river bus took us to Tigre where we picked up a packed lunch to take on to the train back into the centre. We went straight to Once to pick up a cheap replacement for the stolen phone and headed to the busy local police station to report the theft and get the pieces of paper required for the insurance claim. I do confess to having another cheeky parrilla in Once The meat is just so good it's hard to resisit. I think we're both a little concerned about the increasing tightness of our trousers...

The following day we took the 60 bus, which, as I now remembered seemed to go everywhere (including Tigre and Once). Our destination this time was barrio norte, where I used to live, just beside Recoleta the most swish part of the centre of BA. We wandered the familiar streets, Avenida Las Heras, French, Arenales until we came to 1966 Aguero my old address. Slightly anti-climactic I have to admit but now that I think about it it was always going to be – a door, a number plate and that's about it. On to Recoleta, specifically the fabulously decadent cemetary and home to the ornate mausoleums of the Argentenian great and good plus even a few baddies too. Its most famous resident is Evita, or Rice and Webber fame. Her tomb, by no means particularly ornate had a crowd of videoing and snapping tourists while the rest of the cemetary was calm and peaceful and in my view much more interesting and pretty. When in Recoleta, as they say ... we went for a fabulous three course lunch in a fancy restaurant that wasn't too expensive at all and walked it off on the way home.

I had arranged to meet up with Carla, another well travelled old friend that evening. She used to teach Tango a few years back and we were both keen to have a lesson in a local atmospehere than one put on specifically for gringos. The Armenian cultural centre provided just such a set of circumstances, including very good value food and drink and a low entrance fee, thereby making it accessible for locals. We did ok actually, I didn't tread on Claire's toes while some of her other partners did and we held our own (sort of) on the floor after the class itself had finished. We all went to a great bar afterwards, one that you wouldn't even know was a bar unless you had been in it before and finally back to Carla's to reminisce once again. It's such a contrast chatting to old friends rather than recounting your trip or plans to strangers in a hostel. For some reason, possibly alcohol related, I took a dislike to the 86 bus we were on and got off about 20 blocks too early, getting us lost for about an hour.

Another lazy day ensued, 2 more dodgy DVDs adding to the collection: Leatherheads with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger is not worth the effort. A rest was needed before the weekend – time passes by quickly when you stay still for a while and we had already extended our stay by 4 days it was so enjoyable having the studio. On Saturday I had planned a party ... really a very small gathering of anyone I was still in touch with and certainly no competitor to the rave in the woods. Hors d'oeuvres, or scooby snacks as they are more properly known and Clerico, a wine cooler with fresh fruit, greeted Mariana, the first guest to arrive who had taught English at the same school as I had, Dublin Idiomas. Soon she was joined by a flamboyantly pregnant Gabi, who I had met while I was working in Disneyland Paris and who had introduced me to Buenos Aires. Her fella Franco arrived shortly afterwards and Jolly and Carla showed up later too. How thoroughly pleasant to be able to entertain and chat away.

Our time in Buenos Aires was nearly up, we visited Gabi again in her lovely PH (Plaza Horizontal, a horizontally arranged house as opposed to the far more common apartment blocks) to have a proper catch-up. Afterwards all that remained was to pack for what seemed like the first time ever, get the deposit on the flat back and make our way to Retiro, Buenos Aires' transport hub.

It was the first place that I felt a genuine sense of sadness leaving on the trip so far. Such a contrast of familiarity: faces, street names, vistas, smells and accents. Even having your own front door. However the road beckoned and the world wasn't getting any smaller. The last activity was to send a package home, full of assorted goods purchased in Once and a few mates and bombillas.

Tags: delta, old friends, package, parrilla, party




Gabi !!! Cuanto tiempo !!!

  Fernando Flores Jan 13, 2009 8:47 PM


Buenos Aires is definitely an amazing city!
I spent a great time last month in Buenos Aires. I rented a furnished apartment in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, near the down town. I suggest that service called ForRent Argentina: Buenos Aires apartments For Rent

  Ashton Oct 5, 2009 11:15 AM

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