Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last Hours in Buenos Aires

And I´m ready to go home. I´ve stayed away just long enough, or maybe a day or two longer. It´ll take a bit over two days to get home, so there´s still a long way to go.

I don´t think I´ve done Buenos Aires right. There´s been parties in the old plaza outside our hotel all night for the past few nights. The city here only really comes to life after 1 am. The people I´ve met, or traveled with, have been more conservative. They go out, for a few hours, but don´t dive in. I want to dive in. There´s so much here I haven´t done. I´ve seen the main sites and taken the photos but haven´t lived the full experience. And so it´s been fine, and in most cities that would be more than enough - I´ve been coming home between 3am and 6am each night - but I know that that is only a nibble. I know because I hear the party every night. Even now, at 10am, I can hear the musicians in the plaze. Last night it was flamenco, formally, then a South American street jam, informally, when the stage was taken down.

If I make it hear again I want it to be with the wild friends who stay up all night and sleep all day. I think Hollis and I saw most of the Daytime Sites. Not all, but most. Justify Full

So. Tuesday. Hollis and I arrive, and head to Siga la Vaca for our first parilla. It´s an all you can eat grill featuring every part of the cow and quite a few from the sheep. I have bif de chorizo (porterhouse) and morcillo (blood sausage) and mollejas (sweatbreads) and lamb ribs that a juicy, crackling skin. The lamb was the best. Lunch came with .5 liters of wine, and Hollis doesn´t drink, so I had to finish the carafe myself. Napped, and then wandered to Plaza Mayor and on to the Obelisk. We get caught in a cold rain, and wait out the storm in a cafe along Corrientes, the theater strip. We´re off to a good start.

Wednesday. We head to Recoleta. The streets there confuse me, and we walk and walk and walk trying to find the cemetery. We finally do, and it is fantastic. It´s a marble necropolis that houses all the famous poets, leaders, villains, and revolutionaries of the last few centuries, and some of the tombs were beautiful works of art. Hollis wants his photo taken in from of Evita´s tomb, and I refuse to take it at first, it seems disrespectful, but everyone else is doing it & I start to feel silly sticking to my point and give in. Later we hit the Museum of Belles Artes. It´s a great collection, with a number of sculptures by Rodin. He was the surprise for me; I knew The Thinker but had no idea how raw and sexual his main body of work was. I loved it. Hollis was bored.

Wednesday night I want to go to a all-male milonga, but can´t find anyone to go & it sounds to intense to do solo and without many language skills. Instead I take a wander through downtown, hitting two smaller bars that I had marked on the gay guide to Bs As, Toms and Flux. I love walking the city at night like this. The first joint is pretty cruisy, but the guys are odd. One tries to force me into a back corner, which: fat chance. Guys here are slim, and I have a dozen pounds on most of them. I don´t hurt the creep, just twist his arm hard enough to give him the message that that macho shit doesn´t fly with me. The second bar was run by an ex-pat UK and Russian couple, and everyone inside it spoke English. That was a nice surprise. They drank like the English too - everyone was totalled. I pretended I didn´t speak English to one shit-face American. Good times. The bartender made me a Negroni that was awesome. I taxi home.

Thursday we took a ferry to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. The highlight is a centuries-old village on a promontory that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are now lots of artists living there. We have lunch on a garden on the Rio de la Plata. The second highlight is the exchange rate: 25 pesos per dollar. I go shopping for the first time in two weeks. I really like this town. Hollis and I are back on the same page.

Thursday night. Did we sleep? I forgot what we did Thursday night. It´ll come back to me, I hope.

Friday we go to the La Boca neighborhood. It looks pretty rough and tumble - wide dusty streets and lots of poverty. In the center are a few smaller streets that have been renovated and have become a major tourist attraction. Friday night we head to La Canitas on Dave G´s suggestion, meeting Dave, Eli, and Donielle for dinner at the famous Campo Bravo. This is my fist taste of the beautiful life in Bs As. San Telmo, where we stay, is full-on bohemian - narrow buildings and plazas with old men drinking wine and cobble stone streets; I expect Garibaldi to come along and liberate it at any moment. La Boca was rough and tumble, Centro was major urban inner city, and Colonia was artists. La Canitas was fashion and glitz and the newest place to see and be seen. It was quite a change. Mariano was supposed to join us, but turned Latin on us - he called and was surprised that we had grabbed a table so early. At 9;30 pm. By 3am The rest of the crew goes to bed. I try one last club. I skip the mega club in favor of a smaller place, and get more macho weirdness. Think 20-year olds who want me to call them ¨Papi." It just doesn´t work. To make it extra weird, the exact same kids who would try to come on macho would then melt in my arms when I´d stop them from biting or grabbing or squeezing or whatever.

Yeah. Biting. I´ve never had so many men try to bite me. At least not in public and at the bar. I get home at 6am. Back in my barrio the party in Plaza San Dorrego is still going strong, but I´m still dressed trendy from La Canitas and don´t really blend well with the working-class vibe.

Saturday I want to go to the Malba, the Latin American museum. I never make it. Hollis and I decide to walk. We spend a few hours wandering, then Hollis gets pickpocketed while we watch a tango show. The criminals are good - the opened his bag and opened his wallet and got 300 pesos without being seen. All I saw was a flash, and I couldn´t tell where the hand came from. It was amazing, really. It puts Hollis in a capital-f Foul mood. Of course. I've been there to, and there's nothing much to do but slowly work through it. No museum for him. We have a late lunch at an outdoor cafe. A thief rips a necklace off of another patron and darts into the street. She screams and cusses, la puto! and ladrone! And half the men jump up and chase the thief down the boulevard, but he is too fast. That´s enough crime for one day. Hollis goes home, I go to the Malba, but we are evacuated after a half hour so that a film-star can tour the collection. I don´t know which one, but if I find out I will forever hate them. The collection looked awesome, and I´ll try to visit again before my check-out.

Saturday night, and it´s no disco for MC. Poor me. I go to a parilla with some guys from the hotel. It´s good. The steak is far better than what we get in the states, but I still haven´t had that piece of so-soft you can cut it with a fork slab of meat that this country is famous for. The hippie member of our party, who was already getting on my nerves both for his slimy bragging about how much ···· he gets from his young boyfriends here and for his lack of fashion sense (red and yellow Pippi Long Stocking socks with Birkenstocks, commits a fatal error at dinner and I let my inner monster out and slash into him, hard and loud.

If anyone is actually reading this far, here´s a warning. I tip well at restaurants. It´s my choice. Do not try and stop me. Last night we divide the bill, then I throw an extra ten pesos in. Hippie announces it´s too much and takes the money as his change. I throw another ten pesos in. He again insists its too much, that the waiter was rude and doesn´t deserve the tip, and redistibutes it to the other members of our party.

Can you say dead in the water? The bitch was nothing but road kill after that. I threw in more money, he started to reach for it, and I laid into his ass hard. That pretty much broke up our party. I went to a small bar with two guys from Montreal, but I think they were a bit nervous around me and things were too subdued for a Saturday night.

And now its Sunday in San Telmo and I only have a few hours left. I´ll go to the museum, pack, and spend my final hours drinking wine in the plaza, as I should have been doing all along.


David said...

Sounds like quite the adventure in BsAs! Morcilla is the blood sausage and mollejas are the sweetbreads. Have a good trip home.

Michael C said...

Thanks - made the corrections! And I ate a lot of mollejas, because most of my friends refused to touch them and wouldn't share my order.

David said...

Yeah, I'm the official mollejas eater too, especially when I'm dining at an Argentinian place in Miami with American friends.