Well, it was a shaky start to Buenos Aires, but I’m finally getting my sea legs as it were. While my accommodation had a beautiful terrace to sit out on, the neighbourhood was far removed from any of the usual tourist points of interest, which can be both good and bad. The biggest problem was the promised wifi that never materialized, and the constant excuses from my host about this. Needless to say I have moved to another locale, and can now blog to my heart’s content, that is when I’m not wandering around some of the more interesting and beautiful parts of the city.
Speaking only the most rudimentary Spanish is a bit of a handicap, but it really forces you to dive in! The locals have been nothing but kind and helpful with my stuttering attempts, and for the most part I have been able to make myself understood, particularly when asking for directions to places – a very important skill! I also finally connected with a group of expats and locals who meet regularly for conversation in English. Thanks again to Chris for putting me onto Meetup Groups online. I met with the group last night and got more information in one evening from them than I had during the entire week previous. I now know where to go for tango lessons – and who the best teacher is – how to get a bus pass for the ‘colectivos’, where some of the best milongas (tango clubs) are, and how to survive as a foreigner. all good information. I had so much fun, that I’ve signed up for a bus trip with this group to La Plata next weekend. For me, finding ways to meet people in an unfamiliar place is essential to avoid being isolated. Knowing what to ask and who to ask for help is also key. But I digress. In the midst of figuring out how to get my way around, I did some of the regular tourist things that were a lot of fun. One good way to get a good overview quickly is to take a city bus tour. Buenosairesbus.com has a pretty good one, with headphones that provide multiple languages. The only small downside is that half the time the bus has gone by the sites being described in the audio! Still, it was interesting, and the day was beautiful. Here’s some evidence:
The Argentinian national flag flies in the plaza at the Congreso.
The best part of the tour was in the Caminito, part of the original port neighbourhood of la Boca. This is said to be where the tango was born. Originally a very working-class form of dance and song, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the local gentry accepted and embraced it. Now, of course, the tango is THE national cultural icon of Argentina.
The colourful buildings are typical of the Caminito, and of course, tourists like me flock there.
Traditional dances are also popular, and a good draw for buskers. The Gato is one dance that primarily displays the skill and equestrian dexterity of the gaucho, who plays a game of cat and mouse (hence gato) in his pursuit of the woman. Today the tradition, with its Creole roots, is typically handed down through the generations. The girl dancing in this photo is only 5 years-old, and could she move! The beat is kept here by the woman playing the bombo, a percussion instrument that originates in Santiago del Estero.