|Our Really Big Adventure|
Buenos Aires - Monetary Devaluation
As we boarded our full cama coach for the 12-hour trip from Mendoza to Santiago, we knew we could look forward to a more comfortable ride than the average business-class air passenger. Three abreast in place of the usual four, seats reclining close to horizontal, supportive footrests, plenty of legroom, hot meals and in-flight, or rather on-road, movies.
Our attendant clearly modelled himself on the more exuberantly friendly and enthusiastic flight attendants he had encountered. While we picked up only a fraction of his lengthy “welcome onboard” speech, every sentence ended with an exclamation of “Bueno!”, “Perfecto!” or “Fantastico!”, and he seemed to bestow a broad, white-toothed smile on every passenger individually at some point in his chat.
The highlight of our trip was yet to come - bingo. With my competitive streak, I played two cards as Caelen had drifted off to sleep. Admittedly, any ruthless determination to win at all costs was undermined by the fact that I hadn’t understood the rules. I managed to catch most of the numbers, though, and that alone had me more excited than I’d been in days.
This hostel is just for Israeli people
We rang the bell, and waited while a young woman came down the stairs to meet us. “Where are you from?” she asked. We told her we were Irish. “Ah, this hostel is just for Israeli people. You want our other hostel, around the corner on San Juan.”
We were shocked. Why travel if you want only to mix with people from your own country? And the Israelis who’d chosen to stay in our hostel, rather than their national ghetto, were equally bemused.
Bad, Bad Tango
He looked like an aging gigolo. All smarm and sly looks, slightly corpulent where perhaps there had been a fit figure not so long ago. His slimy smirk revealed dubious teeth as he encouraged the ladies of the audience to dance with him.
She was much, much worse. The tango tradition is of course one of overt sexuality. With slightly more clothing and a lot less makeup, this lady may have been able to exude voluptuous sensuality. As it was, with her too-tight, much-too-short shiny red dress and her apparently randomly applied black eye makeup, it just seemed sad.
We spent much of the next week trying to find good tango, but somehow our efforts were always thwarted. So our lingering memory of Buenos Aires tango is of this slightly sad, slightly repellent couple strutting their stuff to passers-by.
The crowd was mesmerised. The puppeteer’s control of his man was
total, the movements, gestures and, it seemed, expressions were compelling.
Never had I seen a puppet seem to exude such genuine emotion.
Four floors of bad salsa
So when the recommended “mega club” seemed to feature nothing but four dancefloors all playing bad salsa I was less than impressed. “This isn’t salsa,” one of the group advised, “This is much worse than that. It’s Rock Nacional!”
We did the only thing we could in the circumstances. We installed ourselves in the techno room and danced until dawn. Only in Buenos Aires could you consider that a tame night out.