Tonight after a nap and a longer visit to our ice cream shop, we took a taxi to a Milonga. A Milonga is a place, not quite a bar, not quite a dance hall, somewhere in between, where dancers go to tango. As we were leaving our building we asked a woman where we should go. We had investigated on the net but there were too many choices and we wanted one close by. She said the closest was a rather touristy place 15 blocks away. So we grabbed a cab.
The one she had told us about was not starting til midnight. A nice gentleman there in a salmon colored sports coat told us of one a couple of streets over which turned out to be a famous, traditional place called Salon Canning. (I’m sure it is on the web) First they has tango lessons, Tom balked so we watched and waiting for the Milonga. At eleven the regulars began to arrive, thin woman carrying silk bags with their dance shoes, all ages of men who looked rather regal. We secured a table near the dance floor and watched as the heart of the culture of Argentina had suddenly opened an dropped us right into the middle. We only stayed for a couple of hours as Judy had jet lag but on that time we saw the real Buenos Aires and it was magical. We plan to take the girls to see it when we return at the end of our trip.
I hope to add a video of this. Here is a photo of the class.
Then we had to find some string in one of the tiny shops still open after dark. Tom secured the string around the air conditioner and down into the bucket to soften the noise. We went to sleep.
The next day we arose early, ate our breakfast and went to find a way to repair the toilet seat in the main bathroom. The toilet looked nice enough, there was just one problem, the seat was not attached to the base. Any unsuspecting sitter could wind up flung into the bidet or the tub. We worried that one of us might have a terrible accident.
We decided to find a hardware store, but when we attempted to lock the front door of the apt behind us, the plate holding the door handle and the lock suddenly detached itself and swung lose on one screw. Turned out there were two screw in four holes and all of them were stripped, securing nothing. We extracted a screw and took that with us to a tiny hardware store we found on the next block.
The owner was helpful, admitting in Spanish that he was no Home Depot but he had most everything. First we tried one screw, not big enough, and a clump for the toilet seat, couldn’t close the seat. On a second trip to the hardware store we exchanged the screws for bigger ones and purchased a plastic toilet seat for $9. The screws worked but when we tried the toilet seat. it was half an inch off. So Tom spent an hour cutting down the connected and finally, we had it fixed.
Judy arrived and we chatted. then we tried to lower the security shutter in the living room. It got stuck. Tom worked for another hour but has yet to fix that. Such is a renter’s dilemma.
Our apt looks great from the outside, from the inside it’s small but acceptable. Then we took a closer look. The young woman who let us in and gave us the keys mentioned something about water dripping from one of the air conditioners. We told her thank you and she left. Then we got tired and turned on the air in our bedroom so we could sleep. After my shower I noticed some water on the wooden parquet floor, a lot of water. It seemed to be coming from the air conditioner, pouring from the air conditioner. I called Tom and found rags, mop and buckets in the maid’s quarters (which had been billed as the second bathroom). We set up the buckets but there was still the plunk, plink of water.
People in Buenos Aires act like anyone is a big city until you strike up a conversation and they can be delightfully helpful. At the taxi queue at the in town airport we asked a businessman how much a taxi to our apt should cost. He immediately found the first taxi in the queue, jumped the people waiting who seemed not to mind, negotiated a great price with the driver, put us in and sent us off. I did hear some grumbling from other taximen about how he was helping ‘the tourists,’ but none of the people waiting in line seemed to mind.
When we had settled in to our funky apt. We went our looking for money changers and food. At the first fruit shop the seller directed us to a “blue market” office where we changed dollars at 12 to 1, rather then the ‘official’ rate of 8 to 1. We bought food, fruit from our new friend, some supplies and tried to find our street. When we stopped for the third time to ask a man, he threw us and our purchases into his Mercedes SUV, introduced us to a friend washing his car who has a brother in the US military, and drove us home which turned out to be a block away.
We arrived at the airport shattered from the long flight but energized by our grand view of the Andes. The whole family will be driving over them in March on our way from Santiago to BA by bus.
Sitting in the kitchen waiting for Julia to take us to the airport. It’s a dangerous position for me. I keep thinking about one more thing that can be crammed into the carry-on bag. Of course, all our stuff is carry-on and we have our packs closed up and ready to go. The small expandable tote pieces beckon me…just one more baggie of crackers, nuts, another pair of reading glasses for Tom, another New Yorker Magazine, maybe a wool hat, it’s so cold out there…
Tom is in a panic about the fireplace. He has left notes about the flue. I am physically retraining myself from writing more little notes, sticking them here in there throughout the house. The time crawls by and I see more things to pack…Julia better come soon or we will be checking luggage.
January 23 and we need to sort our clothes for our trip. Problem now is that the temperature in the attic where clothes are stored has reached into the minus degrees. Any time I spend inspecting storage bins causes me to develop frostbite. I feel like Ernest Shackleton in Antarctica, dressed in 100 year old duds. It’s a darned good thing that Tom and I only take a small backpack each, how many clothes can we carry? But we do look an awful lot like we are wearing Shackleton cast offs. Back to the deep freeze…