In front of the Casa Rosada

21 Nov 2002

Still having the time of my life here in BA with Bob and Jason — the people are awesome!  It’s so European — just like being in Italy and Spain at the same time.  Everything is so classy, the restaurants and AWESOME seafood and of course vino.  Been spending lots of time with the boys shopping like crazy… Bob’s friend Jason is very nice he’s taking full advantage of the bargains to decorate his new Dartmouth St. condo.  It’s actually kinda fun… spent the afternoon in awesome antique shops  LOTS of great stuff for ridiculously cheap prices.

I found some really cool antique ceramic tiles with boats and stuff that are really neat but I’m still looking for just the right stuff.  I did buy an awesome piece of wall art at a shop specializing in Native American Argentine crafts.   It’s really beautiful and unique,  most of all it’s not at all “colorful” and so Paul will love it and it will go perfectly in the house.  The boys love it too and might buy similar ones.  Also there’s some REALLY COOL furniture stores with GREAT pieces chairs, tables, bookshelves, bars that would go wonderfully in the house.  They are kinda a Western style, but with some Mexican characteristics, beautiful hand-wrought iron handles.  They actually are kind of mission style.  And the prices are like a fraction of what they’d cost in the states.  Paul would burst down here.  Lots of amazing things to buy.

Geez I sound like a shop queen, not my typical way of whiling away the hours when traveling.  OK enough of that.  Last night we went to the opera…. one word: wow.  Really cool theater.  Then went to the old Italian neighborhood and saw a tango show in this 100-yr old bar — all mahogany walls and 1930’s lights.  Drank wine and lots of it.  Bob and I went to a drag show, had a blast.  One really trashy old drag queen like in the Dueling Bankheads — she sang two Celia Cruz songs then Olivia Newton-John.  Needless to say I was in hog heaven.

Gotta run, I have to go primp for our big gay night out!  We’re going out for a fancy din din then hit the bars.  According to the guide books we won’t be back till dawn.

I miss not having Paul as my travel bud.  We must come here together someday.  I KNOW he’ll absolutely love it.

22 Nov 2002

Whoa, talk about hangover.  Two strong cafes con leche & ibuprofin still haven’t done the trick.  I need Paul’s brother’s horse pills.  My advice when in Bs As:  don’t drink cuba libres with “national” rum.  There are fatal.

Despite the consequences, we had a really fun time last night.  Met Bob and Jason for dinner at what the guidebook calls the most elegant restaurant in town and sure enough it was exquisite.  Started with salad & appetizers, veggie paté, fresh bread, then a scrumptious seafood & pasta dish, two desserts (yes two) & Cuban coffee to end it all.  Wine?  Yes, please.  Red and white.  Champagne?  Oh, why not.  The bill?  $13 each person.  Truly unbelievable.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s only a matter of time before inflation kicks in.

After dinner we headed for a cocktail at a gay cafe, then to a bar for another drag show, again hilarious.  Fewer dress changes, lots more banter, audience participation, yuks & guffaws all around.  A good chunk of the crowd was from abroad: Mexico, Panama, Peru, Chile.  London, Spain, Denmark.  We don’t think there were other Americans (in fact, I hardly see them anywhere).  It made for a very international event, everyone very chatty & friendly especially the Argentines.  After the show (two pitchers of sangria) we headed for “Glam” some fab gay disco and danced danced danced (I with a tattooed lesbian) to the best of international techno & cheezy Latin American pop.  Fun fun.  Ms Jason met a nice local law student.  Bob, alas, fared less well (although I don’t think he was actually in pursuit of anyone) and so I made sure he got home safely & I headed back to my hotel for some well-earned rest.

Before our Big Gay Night Out, we met the Argentine sister of one of Jason’s colleagues at work.  She’s from Bs As and speaks English very well, so Bob & Jason got a chance to ask lots of questions, etc.  She’s really sweet, kinda quirky & curses a lot.  Spent last year traveling around southern Europe, earning her passage as a street juggler.  She told us wild stories while we sipped wine in a cobblestone plaza listening to three punked-out youths play sweet, soft jazz by a fountain.  We hit it off, and I’m meeting her tonight to see an Argentine play.  Nice to mix with the locals.  Chatted this AM with some Brits staying in my hotel… they’re on package tour and having a great time, wowed too by the prices.  “Only 5 quid!” was a popular refrain during our discussion.

Argentine street protests over the collapsed economy

More demonstrations in the streets.  All very peaceful, but lots of riot police.  Went to the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada (the “Pink House”) where the president lives.  It has the balcony where Madonna (amid much controversy) waved to the masses in “Evita”.  I saw the silent (but powerful) procession of the “grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo” who every Thursday march quietly carrying photos of their “disappeared” sons and daughters during the repressive military dictatorship which the US of course tacitly supported.  The complicity of our “great” nation in repressive regimes is shameful.  I got a little teary-eyed seeing one grandmother carrying a photo of her son & daughter-in-law and their two children — all four of them were shot by the paramilitaries.  It’s a disgraceful history, and important that it be kept alive in the world’s memory.

Tomorrow I head for Uruguay, track down my exchange family.  I’m looking forward to the 3-hr ferry crossing from Bs As, and some relative peace & quiet from the bustling city.  The boys leave for Patagonia on Sunday; I’ll be sad to see them go, but then again traveling solo presents it own advantages.  I wish Paul were here with me.  Always so much better to share a great adventure.

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