The Beautiful People, Tango and Polo

Trip Start Feb 15, 2006
Trip End Feb 14, 2007

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, December 1, 2006

Not surprisingly, now that we have  rounded the bottom of the continent and arrived on the Atlantic coast we found Buenos Aires far more European than anywhere that we have seen in south America to date. For a start the locals are paler skinned and taller and many seem to speak perfect English; there is even an English language newspaper published every day (the BA Herald) which was very useful in keeping us up to date with the latest news.
The girls are prettier as well, which made wandering the streets of this thriving city even more enjoyable. I hear that 1 in 10 girls here have an eating disorder - well that must be somewhat different to the Gill and Alan eating disorder - we have found the helpings huge and have struggled not to pig out an all the Argentinian meat meat meat dishes. Have you noticed there are less photos of us in front of the scenery - quite simple, we would blot it out!

Wandering the streets, we were heading for the main square and the Casa Rosada when we found the road blocked by heavily armed riot police who were confronted with a baton armed crowd.   It was difficult to find out what the demonstration was about - nobody was handing out leaflets or anything - the best we got was some giggly girls who said they were pickeetos or something. Gill wanted to hang around and find out more but I convinced her that we would be safer to watch it on television. It was indeed on live, and eventually we established that it was one of many such demonstrations - this time for the rights of the disabled or something equally obscure. They like a good standoff these Argies. Oh yes, did I mention that they are having a good old row with Uruguay about a paper mill; that is warming up with troops being put in by Uruguay to guard the mill and the King of Spain trying to broker some sort of compromise. Watch this space.

We visited an amazing graveyard. Perhaps graveyard and amazing are not usually in the same sentence but this time they fit. It must be the most snobbish graveyard in the world. In fact it isnīt a real graveyard because no one seems to be buried there. Coffins are in full view. There is row after row, or better street after street of family mausoleums just like houses or sometimes like shops with plate glass doors opening into marble vestibules with the odd coffin on marble shelves and a stair case leading down to, I guess, older coffins. Eva Peron was not of a sufficiently high class family to be buried here. Twenty years after her death, her then president husband managed to have her body smuggled in during the night and reburied there. The graveyard has not had the guts to throw her out but refuses to put up any signs as to where the most famous Argentinian of them all is buried; so there is tourist after tourist wandering this city within a city trying to locate Evitaīs family tomb.
It will be interesting to see where they bury Maradona who used to play for Boca Juniors. We went to the Boca district or should I say republic because the residents declared it a free state some time ago, even before that other most famous Argentinian of them all.  
We had been recommended to catch a polo match in BA and we managed to get tickets to semifinal day of the Argentine Open. This seems to be another sport that we invented that has been hijacked by Johnny Foreigner - this time Argentinians. All polo players in the world seem to have a handicap with 10 being to best - I think the English team boasts a couple of 7 handicappers -   and we watched one of the Argentinian club teams, La Dolfina, which had three 10 handicappers with the poor fourth member only being rated 9.  
The skills were amazing
as was the bravery of both the players and their ponies who often seemed to catch the ball right up the backside without turning a hair. We really enjoyed the day out and of course engaged in more people watching - ie the Hooray Joses who look very similar to the Hooray Henrys.

After the polo, the Tango. Tango seems pretty big in Buenos Aires with locals dancing the evenings away at dance rooms. We were advised that at least six lessons are needed before visiting such a place - even the most skilled partner cannot cover up for a beginner.
So, we visited a touristy Tango tea room and were wowed by the fancy footwork of these professional dancers with me wincing as the beautiful girl seemed to be doing everything possible to knee her partner in the nuts.
One observation of the city though, when the locals are not at work, they are the most helpful and pleasant. As soon as we took out the map somebody offered in perfect English to help us find what we wanted. On the other hand, once those locals were at work everything changed. Now they were complete jobs worths. Not at all helpful and sometimes downright misleading. Very strange. When we first arrived with all our luggage, our hotel receptionist explained very clearly that we had a booking but because we had not contacted her in the last ten days, she had canceled it. No she did not have any rooms, no she could not recommend another hotel, no she could not assist us ringing round any that we found in the guide book. Eventually, after our first row for ten weeks 24/7 - my fault of course!,  we found a place to stay which turned out to be in a much better spot anyway, but this attitude was not the exception.

Next stop, Iguassu and those waterfalls.

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