I guess a day started with a huge piece of delicious chocolate mousse cake can be called a good day right away. Jose showed us to the local coffee chain that had amazing pastries and desserts. But I feel like Buenos Aires is full of deliciousness wherever you go.
That day we decided to leave the city and go to Tigre, a nice river-based city an hour away from BA. SAS had a field trip going there, so we decided it might be worthy to go on our own.
I think ever since Jose relocated to Buenos Aires he kept telling me of how bad the local public transportation was. I had some opportunities to check that: the subway (Sube), for example, is a mix of New Yorkish style and Moscow’s lack of air conditioning. But on average, it was pretty typical. Jose said that in the evenings they had lots of musicians traveling from one car to another. When we were riding the subway, it was only the merchants selling all kinds of crap you can try to sell in the subway – scissors, candy, maps. Country trains in St. Petersburg, that’s what it looked like; when I was a kid and we took a train to our countryhouse, there were all kinds of vendors trying to persuade you that you couldn’t live without that lighter or hat or insect repellent.
We took the local train to Tigre. There was one that took you to the so-called “tourist train”, the only difference from the regular one being that it took you straight to the amusement park.
We got on for free. It was funny, because on the way to the platform there was a block with boredom-on-their-faces ticket controllers, and right next to them there was a block with no tourniquets or anything. We didn’t even notice the controllers as we walked through, and if they noticed us, they said nothing.
The train again was pretty regular; I’ve heard that some train tracks were unsafe because of their poor maintenance, but that one was all right. And the crap vendors didn’t let us fall asleep, as they were loud and insistent. Rachel was amused by them a lot – she’s never seen people doing this before. But we only used the metro in Europe, so she possibly could not.
Tigre turned out to look pretty regular – I mean, what would you expect from a small river town, not that old-looking as the SAS program described it. We made our way to the local “fruit market” – nowadays “buy-it-all market” – followed by one of the street dogs who really liked Rachel. We even put up an experiment to figure out whom the dog was following, and it was Rachel. Probably because she wore the same hiking boots as to the zoo and the dog smelled something friendly. In any case, it was a good, but pretty stupid dog, barking at the car wheels, running at them et all. We wandered around the market, trying to find me the right mate and the right bombilla. In Uruguay they mate is the name of the gourd/cup/whatever it is from which you drink mate-herbs. By the way, I’ve recently learnt that mate is made out of holly leaves, which is interesting, although I don’t even have a slight idea of what a holly looks like. At last Jose announced that Argentinians don’t understand shit in mate and he would give me his own cup, for he had a few more. The trick was to find the right bombilla then; but the right bombilla must be made of alpaca (aluminum, thought I, but the dictionary disagrees, so I’ll have to look it up when in port) and in a certain way.
We circled the market, finding nothing. Besides, it wasn’t the market day, there was barely anything open except the home goods. So we decided to go to the mate museum, and on the way picked some blueberries (guess whose idea) and found a nice ham-and-cheese cafe (guess whose idea, remembering Lisbon – yah, eating ham&cheese and drinking wine under the waterfall of rain was surely an unforgettable experience).
We never actually made it into the museum of mate; we checked it out, found no worthy bombilla and felt too lazy to pay (even a little) and go. So we proceeded straight to the art museum, which turned out to be pretty nice (and quite a walk away), though not mindblowing. We stood on the beautiful terrace of the museum, watching the boats race by and inhaling the thick river scent. Tigre is surely not the prettiest river in the world. ***
I don’t know what that song “eye of a tiger” is about, but a natural orange eye just opened in the middle of the night starry sky and closed within a moment and now opened again. This is some weird moon, orange and covered by the lashes of clouds. Like a tiger’s or a dragon’s, Smaug from the Hobbit guarding his rusting treasure. Weird. ***
A walk back was long and lazy; we took our time, watching the evening strollers with their dogs, spouses and mate cups. They really carry their mate everywhere. I wonder how they manage not to spill it or anything – my mate ends up on my hands or knees every time, whether the ship’s rocking or not.
We found a local supermarket to secure some wine for the evening – we were afraid the city shops would be closed when we came back. The train ride back wasn’t too entertaining but for the guitar guy with self-made music station cart – dynamics and all – who kept singing Spanish “Happy Birthday” song to a super drunk guy and his friends in the back. He would sing that, play a few other songs, and go back to the birthday one.
We dropped our stuff at Jose’s – I was glad to take my camera out of the bag, for it added up some weight – and decided we’d stroll down to the pizza place Jose knew. Well guess what – as soon as we left the house and reached one of the main market streets, I was cursing myself for leaving the camera at home. Suddenly on that Friday evening the city came alive – usually quiet streets filed with people, musicians and performers of all kinds. At the local McDonald’s they danced tango – a beautiful couple in classic outfits drifting across the hall. Who would’ve thought. It was way too stereotypical – but Jose explained that, firstly, McDonald’s in Buenos Aires was sort of fancy and pricey, and secondly, they would do it every now and then to celebrate the charity success.
A few steps farther, a lonely street musician was strumming some American (Northern American) tune. As we walked by, we saw a circle of people, gathered around a bunch of lip synching performers. Never thought lip synching could be a job! They did great.
Turned out that a ten-minute pizza crawl wasn’t so short. The place was much farther than we thought, and once we got there, we figured we would stay in instead of picking one and going home.
The place was called Guerrin; it was pretty damn old – eighty years or so – and occupied three huge floors. Even though Jose said it wasn’t the night rush hour, the place was packed, and we had to wait for a while to get a table. Boy was that pizza worth the wait. Hell it was. I’ve never thought I’d be able to eat so much pizza. Ever. It had lots and lots of cheese, and was one pure deliciousness. So once we reached home and uncorked the wine – some yummy white wine – and a pack of [guess what] blueberries, life was all sparkles and rainbows as my stomach rejoiced. We were still terrible, though, with our noses stuck in our laptops. But in any case, exhausted from walking and eating, I crashed on the bed earlier than I could finish my glass of wine. We definitely lacked sleep those days.