The Tango of Buenos Aires

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

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hola Amigos

How is everyone going? When I last wrote I was about to leave Chile and the Torres del Paine and head back into the land of beef and gauchos (cowboys) that is Argentina. On leaving Chile we took another monster bus-marathon to a placed called El Calafate to see the giant More˝o Glacier. This is a huge glacier in Southern Argentina that is famous for 'calving' regularly.

The town of El Calafate was nice in a forgetable kind of way but when we arrived we noticed signs everywhere announcing that the 'GLACIER WAS RUPTURING' and that we needed to go 'IMMEDIATELY'. This had Louise and I somewhat perplexed - huge chunks of ice were MEANT to fall off regularly - that's why we were here, wasn't it? The truth was a little more complex - It requires a fairly long explanation that is undoubtably quite boring so the summary was that a huge Ice Tunnel had suddenly formed that wasn't there before. This tunnel was now falling to bits which is why everyone was so excited. This only happens once every 5 to 50 years so we were pretty excited to see it. When we arrived at the glacier we could see what the fuss was about - a huge 60m high solid river of ice flowing down from the mountains and ending in a fast flowing river just 20 meters away from us. There was a huge crowd gathered to await the big-break-off. We all waited around for these huge chunks to fall but, unfortunately, this wasn't happening as fast as the public wanted. The conclusion the crowd reached was to take up a slow hand-clap and start screaming at the glacier to 'BRING ON THE ICE!`(or something, it was mostly Spanish). Eventually the glacier responded and as the ice hit the water there was much patting-of-backs for a job well done. The tunnel was also cool but, really, the glacier was impressive enough without it. The tunnel eventually collapsed around 4am one morning when no-one was there. For some reason this puts a smile on my face.

Anyway, after seeing the Glacier we were planning on heading up the Argentinian coast to the Town of Puerto Madryn where Killer Whales beach themselves to snatch seal pups off the coast. Having recently tried to quit vegitarianism I was ready for a good masacre, Jumanji-style. Unfortunately we discovered that the Killer Whales had moved on to new hunting grounds and the pups were no longer afraid. Jumanji remained in the box and we decided We decided to fly to Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires, I have to say, has been the most wonderful place I have visited since reaching South America. It reminds me of a city that reached its pinnacle in the 1950s and then forgot that time was still passing. It is kind of film-noir meets Gotham City meets Europe in an amazing composition that somehow works. The joy of watching real Tango on the cobblestoned streets of San Telmo whilst nursing a coffee is a wonderful thing.

And lets not forget the steak. I have been having trouble with the phrase ┤┤No meat please, I┤m a vegetarianĘ? It appears to have no literal Spanish translation excepting an irregular reflexive verb form which is traditionally used to describe physical ailment of the oesophagus. It is not used very commonly.

However, the phrase in English ┤like a fish out of water┤ has a cognate in Spanish - ┤to feel as an octopus in the garage ┤. This fairly aptly describes the current state of affairs of both my Tango classes. Instead of 2 left feet I feel like I have 8 (all left). The movements are fast, aggressive, complex and incredibly beautiful. Most people consider it a lifestyle more than a dance. Although both Louise and I have had the same number of classes we are at vastly different levels. This may have to do with the fact that Louise has about 15 years of serious ballet training behind her whilst I used to pretend I was Michael Jackson and 'moonwalk' in my pyjamas.

At least in Spanish we are on a level playing field. Unfortunately - the Buenos Aires dialect includes totally new sounds and tenses used nowhere else in the world. We will have some time to try and work this out though as we aren't going anywhere in the immediate future. This is because a) it is really nice here b) the weather is really bad right now so I keep forgetting just how nice it is and c ) Brazil is giving me the jimminies in regards to a VISA to get into their 'little Portugese colony'. I need to somehow provide them with an ┤┤exit bus ticket┤┤ (which I assume will only be sold on the side of the road at whatever Bolivian-Brazilian border town I will eventually leave from) in order to get an entry VISA to get into their country to begin with. I argued with their consulate so much that I strained my throat and couldn┤t swallow, which I was fortunately able to communicate, but it didn┤t get me a VISA.

Anyway, I digress.

I hope you are all having a wonderful time back in the lands of Liliput and wherever else you may be and I promise to be more upbeat and chipper in the future.

Lots of love and a big tentacle handshake for all

Squibby the squid
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