A few more days in Buenos Aires


I´ve decided to stay here a few days longer to rest up the foot some more (its heaps better though), and soak up a bit more sunshine before heading to Ushuaia. I´ve not been too active the last couple of days but I did try mate for the first time. Mate is the national drink of Argentina. Its a kind of tea but tastes a bit like coffee. Its odd but not in a bad way and bitter but not unpleasantly so. The most interesting aspect is that it is drunk with a metal straw which has a filter at the bottom and is called a bombilla. The drink is popular with all ages and is a sociable activity. There is an etiquette that goes along with it, a bit like handing round a spliff I suppose. Also a really cool thing happened this morning for breakfast. The hostal receptionist baked an apple crumble!

Day Three. Went to visit the Museo del Tango which is in the famous Cafe Tortoni. Was mostly a load of old tat really. Some faded photos, Carlos Gardel´s hat, some old record covers and manuscripts. The cool thing was that a tango group were practising at the back. They were rehearsing a particularly dramatic passage from the end of a tune and the pianist (a guy in early twenties with a tasteful afro and goatee) was argueing with the singer (a cross between Pavorotti and Hulk Hogan, sorry folks, no photo!). I stood listening for a while, whilst pretending to look at the exhibits, and then sat down to rest the foot. At this point they began to play the whole tune through, rather than practise sections. Its powerful, seductive, sophisticated stuff this tango. Do you know it origionated in brothels and was the favouite music of thugs and gangsters? I guess a lot of good music has started off with an underclass (blues, hip-hop, jazz). The leggy style of dancing today is quite an evolution because to begin with it was only danced by men. The band I watched are what is known as an orquesta tipica and are formed of piano, double bass, two bandeons and two violins. Oh and Hulkavotti.

Also caught a few more street musicians today (Day Four!) including a folk group. There was a blonde lady with a bowler hat and a piano accordian and a clarinetist with a black moustache and a beret. They made a bit of a racket but not entirely unpleasant. Then I saw a small man (or possibly a child) playing Guns and Roses and Joe Saturani riffs. Not for me.

Back at the same place as before on Florida street I found another group doing some really dancable tunes. I guess they have a caribbean or ska influence. Anyway I managed to video a little bit this time (got to start taking the audio recorder with me).

A guy comes over whenever your sat down somewhere (on the metro, or at a cafe) and puts something in front of you (a pair of sissors, a pen, a book, a torch, a screwdriver) then in a few minutes he comes and picks it up. The idea is you have become so attached to it you want to buy it. Also a kid came up to me with some juggling balls. I thought he was trying to sell them to me so just said "No gracias" but he shaked his head and then started to do the most half-hearted juggling you can imagine. I asked him "Quieres dinero?", he nodded, but I decided to say "Lo siento, no."

I´m going to fly to Ushauia on Saturday I think. It´ll be a damn site more comfy than 36 hours on a bus (which only goes as far as Rio Gallegos) and as the bike is already packed up it makes sense. Hope there is a bike shop there but if not I should be able to assemble the thing.

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