Learning the lingo in Buenos Aires

Trip Start Oct 08, 2005
Trip End Oct 06, 2006

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Monday, August 7, 2006

Its been a fantastic 10 days in BA. I will have to change my Top 5 cities list yet again to include this place, I just love it here. Its dirty, polluted, noisy, busy and the men all have big hair, but its also incredibly beautiful, atmospheric, buzzing, cultured, friendly, easy to get around and cheap as chips. Iīve done a ton of stuff, so this entry might go on a bit.

My Spanish classes were great, but damn hard work. I was supposed to go into a group, but there was no-one in the school at the same level as me so I had 4 hours a day of private tuition. My teachers didnīt speak any English at all, so they did all of the explaining of verb conjugation and sentence construction in Spanish. Argh! Luckily I was able to make out most of it but I had to concentrate so much. My head would be pounding at the end of the morning. It was made worse by the fact that as soon as I arrived in BA I got a bad cold so didnīt feel great. But despite the tiredness and the frustration of not understanding all the time, I learned a lot, and it was nice to know I was using my brain after such a long time! I stayed with an Argentinian couple - the parents of one of my teachers - in a little neighbourhood near San Telmo, and they were so sweet to me. They couldnīt speak English either, but I was able to talk to them quite a bit by the end of the week. We had dinner one night and I was even talking politics! (I can barely do that in English). Plus it was really good to have a routine, even for a short time - the alarm would go off at 8, I would ignore it til 20 past, then get up, have breakfast and catch the "Subte" (subway) the 3 stops to school. After school I would go to a cafe and study for a while and then go and do something in the city. And that was my week and it was great as it felt comparatively "normal".

A couple of days I did other stuff, like I had a tango lesson one afternoon. Tango is huge here, I had seen a show at a tourist place that had blown me away - it was incredibly sexy and the dancers were amazing - so I thought I would give it a go. Its flippin hard, and took me 90 minutes to learn the 8 basic steps. My partner (a 60 year old short Italian man, boo! Where were the dark haired, dark eyed, snake hipped Latinos I had been promised??) kept telling me off cos I wouldnīt let him lead me (in tango the man is in control, suppose they have to be sometimes, ha ha). Afterwards he took me to a "milonga" - basically a social tango dance, where lots of singles seem to go and hook up to tango. Unfortunately Wednesday afternoon seemed to be "seniors" day, so there was lots of grannies sitting around waiting to be asked to dance by the old men. Lovely atmosphere though in a beautiful old building, and some great dancing. Not by me though, obviously.

So what else did I do? I ate a lot - steak here is absolutely gorgeous and unbelievably cheap, there are loads of lovely old cafes that people linger in all afternoon, and they serve incredible īpostresī - sweet cakes and desserts. Restaurants are really good and going out for dinner is a big thing here, but as Argentinians donīt eat dinner until about 10pm, they eat cake in the early evening to tide them over. Amazingly hardly any of them are fat. I however am now a bloater.

I walked round the city a fair bit, went to the beautiful cemetery in Recoleta, went to the Eva Peron Museum (very interesting), took advantage of the fab nightlife and went out drinking a few nights (again, youīll have to wait for the book to find out the stories from those nights!!)and I went to the football at La Boca. I have always wanted to see a Boca Juniors match at home, as I heard it was a real event, and it didnīt disappoint. The match itself was boring really even though Boca won 3-0 but the crowd were amazing. We were stood on the terraces at the end (there are seats but the rowdy lot go at either end), there was a full brass band playing songs all the way through the match, and loads of flag waving and singing. After the first goal the place went insane, the band struck up one of the favourite songs and 60,000 people were just jumping up and down in time with it. Being in the middle of that is something I will never forget. I heard that the fans were troublemakers and it was a dangerous place to go but it was all really good natured and fun. Maradona was there too, the cheating git.

And of course I went shopping - the big thing here is leather, of course with all that meat around they have to do something with the skin, so there are tons of shops selling cheap good quality leather jackets, bags and shoes. I bought the fabbest pair of boots EVER for about a third of what I would have paid in the UK.

And now Iīm going north to Cordoba, hopefully where its warmer (its been sooooo cold!). Donīt want to leave Buenos Aires though, Iīve had such fun, met so many people, and just think its great here. As you can probably tell by the way Iīve gone on about it!
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