We had gone free-ranging yesterday, hitting the streets of Buenos Aires with no specific goals, to let the city unfold un-prompted.
We had ridden the subway …
… the cars like something off the Orient Express—wooden windows, wooden seats wooden doors … that didn’t necessarily close all the way or when they were supposed to, or even stay closed for that matter. But it was reasonably clean and efficient enough at moving people. The fare was less than one peso, about 25¢ and, we later learned, can even be free if one arrives just as something liquid has spilled into the ticket machine rendering it temporarily out-of-order.
We had strolled
along the Río de la Plata, by the frigate on the river. As we strolled the boardwalk a young child of about eight approached B saying, “money, money”. He tried to ignore the child but prudently put his hands in his pockets to protect his wallet and passport. However, I think the child thought he was reaching for money and stayed at his side, even taking his arm as he walked along, before targeting someone else and moving on.
We had joined the throngs on Calle Florida…
.. to see local artisans hawking their wares and listen to a Salvation Army Band playing Christmas carols to the heat prostrated throngs doing their Christmas shopping.
We had taken in a street band …
We’d had lunch at a modest working-man’s restaurant … an empanada for about $1.15 USD. I spontaneously remembered some of my Spanish from lessons 35 years earlier—leche (milk) barco (boat) naranja (orange), carne (meat) pollo (chicken) arroz (rice) and of course, por favour, along with uno, dos, tres, quatros all of which made some things a little easier although it wasn’t until after I got gassy water that I remembered that ‘con’ means ‘with’ and ‘sin’ means ‘without’. Important because that gassy water is nasty stuff; reminds me of medical tests I’d rather not think about.
We had crossed Avenida 9 de Julio, touted to be the world’s widest thoroughfare—six lanes in each direction plus a three-lane ‘service road’ in each direction for a total of 18 lanes, right through the centre of Buenos Aires. It takes four traffic lights to cross it.
We had stopped at an ice cream store for a very chocolate-y and creamy dish of ice cream and the boys looking for beer on tap had learned to drop ‘bierre pression s’il vous plait’ used on our last trip and replace it with ‘cerveza chop por favor’ – these phrases are of vital importance to a successful trip.
We had benefited from an especially helpful and candid young waiter who had advised that the wine with the meal complet was not particularly tasty and had suggested something more palatable, and, I must add, less expensive.
We had come upon a supermercado along Avenida Rivadavia in which, we realized, we could probably pick up some wine for a wind-down drink before bed. Wine can be very cheap in Argentina … very, very cheap … $2.99 pesos, or $1.00 USD for a litre of wine. This is even cheaper than Italian plonk! Course, it could have been considerably plonkier too—I didn’t actually buy any because they would not accept my US dollar bill.
And to top off the day we had gathered around the bathroom sink, filled it with water, pulled the plug, and watched the water go down the drain the ‘wrong’ way. It wasn’t an urban legend and we really were in the southern hemisphere.
So, we were done with free-ranging … for the next day we decided on some structure … to be continued.
Additional photos can be seen at Beyond the Brush Photography