I feel the overwhelming need to update and disperse information, I just do not know where to start. Looming....the desire for a steady source of pesos is stronger, however I must remain patient and play my cards right on that one. So it was a basic and ordinary Wednesday night last week (as basic and ordinary as cooking spaghetti with my Spanish speaking roommate can be). After getting over the initial shock of hearing that I "sampled" carne de perro, Linda invited me to a weekly gathering of dancers in a formal club just a few cuadras
or blocks down the street. The reason for this informal gathering of hip shakers was a mutual interest to hone, practice and develop the provocative dance of passion and seduction, more commonly known as the Tango. After paying the 15 peso lesson charge, I found an enormous ball room waiting for me to disgrace the national dance, and a sizable crowd of middle age types there to take witness of my Tango sacrilege. As always, I was very much in violation of the dress code, but no one seemed to care. Amongst all
the collared shirts, slacks, shiny shoes, my overly tight baby GAP t-shirt and jeans stood out like a white person in a BET studio audience. I also had my "vans on, but they looked like sneakers," -The Pack. Even with said wardrobe abomination I still had to fight the chicas off with a stick....not really. I basically had to battle this 60 year old Argentine over the one Japanese instructor due to the odd numbered amount of people in the beginners circle, and that bastard was both crafty and charming. After purchasing a little $2 cognac, I loosened up, shared the lovely instructor, and actually learned a good portion of the dance. To my instructor I am sure I still felt like the Tin man to dance with, but everybodys got to start somewhere.
The asado: An Argentine tradition, rich in every families history and a national custom. It is a barbecue to the eyes of a North American, but here it is much more. Coals are setup and lit at the base of the parilla, pronounced pareesha, which is the name of the actual grill. I think George Foreman stole his million dollar fat canceling cooking device from Argentina, as it incorporates the same angled grill that collects the fat as it runs off. Once the coals are glowing with a likeness to molten rock, they are broken up and spread across the entire base of the pareesha, becoming a 1" thick layer of completely uniform heat. This ensures all of the meat is cooked at the same, slow, salivating rate. Oh, and the meat of Argentina? Its the stuff of legends.
Apparently they have the happiest cows down here in the world, due to wide open expanses of grass lands where they live their lives completely free to do whatever they want or go where ever one of their 6 stomachs wants to take them. All up until its time to have an asado of course. This cow happiness is believed, however barbarically, to make their meat taste better. With Hernan the grillmaster (friend of Spanish Linda), another Argentine friend whose name escapes me, my
two Polish roommates Tonya and Alex, and myself, we sat down not just to an amazing feast, but to partake in the Argentine culture together, while sharing bits and pieces of our own. At a table that featured conversations in Spanish, Polish, and English, I am pretty sure I consumed a good 2 kg of meat, almost 5 lbs. On a Sunday night, we ate, talked and drank our ways into Monday morning, and it was good. Needless to say, I paid my compliments to the chef many times over. Here it is not uncommon to stay up or stay out well into the morning (light) for adults and youngins alike.
Bussing: I always come away with stories from riding public transportation. I found my first bus ride coming out of the airport, having been in Argentina for 15 minutes. I refused to take the overpriced taxis and shuttles, and after looking around and consulting a few locals, I located
the one bus stop about a 100 yards off. The 80F sun was already draining me as I stood under its beating glare, sweat soaking into my tourista clothing. The bus came, I boarded with about 15 others, all my luggage in hand, and in a flustered delivery of mangled Spanish, I explained that I only had big bills, and not the 80 centavos in change required...in frustration or pity, he just waved me on for free. The 2 hour ride into the city is one that I still vividly remember, being able to see Portenos
(people living in Buenos Aires) for the first time.
Literally just last night, after spending time with some friends in Plaza Serrano, I ended up catching a bus home at 6am. Heading home in the company of people on their morning commutes...interesting, I dont know if I feel guilty or proud. After riding for roughly 5 minutes or so, the smooth gyrations and gentle bumps lulled me to sleep for the rest of my ride. Fairly dangerous and potentially shitty, I had no control. Not as bad as falling asleep on a train in Korea, where you could literally wake up on the other side of the country, but a nuisance non the less. I dont know how, but after missing my stop after just a few blocks, I woke up, jumped up, pressed the button that would signal my stop, and got off. I have been lucky thus far in my Argentine adventure, and to make this thing a success, I will need some more before it is over. Ciao amigos, hasta pronto.