Okay he did it – he learnt to tango – and he was hot! But more on that later.
So we left Puerto Madryn for Buenos Aires with my beloved feeling a little less than ordinary. By the time we boarded the plane he was threatening to be sick. I was deeply concerned as he was in the aisle and I was trapped in the window seat. I sidled up so close to that window that I almost fell through it! Thankfully we made it to BA unscathed and, after hiking with our backpacks a little further than the sick boy would have liked, we checked in to our hotel which was perfectly located in the centre of the city. The only problem being that the plan to only book one night online and pay for the next three with cash failed immediately as they were booked out the next night. So husband ingested drugs and went to bed whilst I flitted around town seeking new accommodation, gathering supplies and generally window shopping (Saturday afternoon siesta meant everything was closed again). Anyway found a nice little hotel with great air conditioning and a pool only a block away (the Sheraton). So much for roughing it in BA! Our excuse – he was feverish and needed reliable airconditioning and I needed a shower where the water did not pool around your ankles as you showered – bliss!
Anyway next morning backpacks on and we walked the 250 metres to the new hotel and fortunately they allowed us to check in immediately. So after a brief rest in the air con (with husband ingesting more drugs) we headed off down Florida Street in search of the hop on hop off bus with air conditioning. The number of dudes yelling, whispering, singing “Cambio cam cam cambio” was overwhelming. It seemed like there were too many dodgy lookers to even contemplate changing our money with them. And then what do you know “Is that Gail and Tom?” Lorena and Stacey from Hawaii were walking towards us. Stacey entertained us with his tale of almost being robbed by the building junk being thrown on him as a distraction whilst someone pretending to help grabbed his laptop bag and replaced it with a decoy. (He chased the guy and retrieved it thankfully) I recalled someone else saying how the gypsies had thrown something foul on them and pretented to help rub it off while they pickpocketed them.
What do you know, another few blocks on and I have pigeon poop land on the back of my leg just before a pretend Australian asked us for directions to San Telmo – which is exactly where I wanted to take the tourist bus to. We couldnt stop for the bird poo as we were (I was) paranoid about the pickpockets (the pretend Australian didnt help either) and I had at hand the chemist bag as we had just bought antibiotics so I used it (the bag) to scrape the poop off as we walked, radar on and fully alert in a 360 degree radius – waiting for someone to jump up and pretend to help me whilst they tried to access my broken zip pacsafe bag ( I threw the cheap copy some time ago when everything kept falling out). How did they train the pigeon to aim so well? We continued on in a lather of sweat seeking the tourist bus. Me, not accepting of the possibility at this point that the bird poop was completely random.
Suddenly after too many blocks (probably 15 or 16) and a Tango dancer or two, we spotted a bus and in the chaos, and being fully alert for the bird poop thrower I bought us tickets and insisted husband get on. A few blocks later, we were heading into the dingiest part of town and there aint no tourists to be seen. After referring to the map I suggested we were heading to La Boca and we werent on the tourist bus! The back streets of La boca are where you shouldnt go apparently and husband is cursing me and saying we shouldnt have got on this bus as the sweat drips from his fever ridden body, and I am convinced I was pickpocketed my hundred or so pesos when the pigeon poo arrived. We were both wrong!
Just as I found my pesos in another pocket a swiss lady appeared in front of us, she spoke four languages at home – French German Italian and Romany or some mix of Italian and German. Just for extras she also spoke Spanish and English! We were in luck – today was Sunday and it was the only day of the week to go to La Boca, the place where Tango began! And there were markets on! She told us to hold our bags, and go in have a look and get out – have a look at the coloured houses but dont stop too long in one place. Well that is what we did! We saw a bit of Tango on the street, avoided buying any touristy trinkets, took a few photos and then – as if arriving on script – the tourist bus arrived!
After much marital discussion we purchased the $20 usd tickets (as opposed to the $2 local bus tickets) and we climbed aboard – grabbed some earphones and headed back to Centro – in air conditioned comfort! My beloved is still feeling more than unwell so we decide to hop off in town and head back to the hotel. I have a quick swim and then decide I need to once again find San Telmo antique markets – this time I take a taxi and leave husband to rest and recuperate.
Well what a find, these Sunday markets went on forever! Although the antique dealers were starting to pack up, the artists, the leather goods and the handicrafts stayed out in force. Just as I was ready to head back down the street and find a taxi I stumbled across Defense St – it went on and on and on and on. I kept checking the map and knew that it was heading back to where we had taken the not so touristy bus that morning so I kept going on and on and on and on. I dont think I have ever seen so many market stalls in one place – or in one line for that matter. At one point I see the Lululemon label on the back of a top in front of me – she looks a bit familiar – I know its Canadian – but its hard to tell from behind – so I just quietly say “Jill” and low and behold – there is Jill one of the nice Canadians from the bus trip to Torres del Paine – you know, the bear cave stop. We had a quick chat and she was heading off to find some food to eat at her hostel after reminding me the last time she saw Tom was when we missed the boat after French Valley and we “were forced” to wait it out in the bar! The day he donated the binoculars to the next lucky camper.
I continued on through the never ending stalls occassionally being swooped upon by a lost pigeon – still alert I am constantly looking out for the Gypsy pickpockets or the pretend Australians who have managed to train these darn pigeons! I think at this point I am becoming just slightly paranoid and again maybe a little insane but woe is he who so much as brushes passed my pocket!
Whilst doing this extensive market hike Stacey and Lorena have sent a couple of messages asking if we would like to catch up for dinner. The day was going well! Husband is still not lookin (or sounding) particularly well but we have obtained extra antibiotics for him and he decides to join us for and Argentinian barbeque. The setting was a little macabre to say the least, stuffed animal heads all around the walls, but I can only assume these large animals were eaten if the size of the servings on each plate was anything to go by. So I can accept their heads as monuments to those that have fallen in the name of hunger! But I dont think I’d want them on my wall at home.
So the next day we are up not too early and head up two blocks to the nearest tourist bus stop (yes I know yesterday two people at reception found it important to send us to the number 1 stop on the route rather than just the closest – which is why we had such an adventurous day so we shouldnt complain – although husband was somewhat unwell! ) Anyway on the bus we hop off at Recolleta and visit the City of the Dead – I know there are some graves like this in cemeteries in Australia – but not a whole city of them! You can stick your head in the little houses (if so inclined) or open the door and sit on a seat and talk to the coffin (if that’s your cup of tea) or, like us, you can marvel at the expense and intricacy of the displays and the fact that the coffins are placed on shelves for all to see and you can take plenty of photos. We did see where Eva Peron is “buried” or rather laying with her family, and I’m sure many of the other “graves” were those of famous people too (if you are Argentinian).
Back on the bus we went around the city and eventually decided to hop off and head home through Florida St. We popped into a less salubrious hotel and changed some money (at a good rate) and investigated Tango Shows in a number of little booths before stumbling across the Tango Show with lessons – just like the one in I had imagined – Jackpot! They would pick us up from our hotel – feed us – give us wine and beer all night and we would learn how to tango! I was thrilled and husband was terrified!