‘Hello, my name is Jorge and tonight, my partner and I will be treating you to the tango!’
Such were the words we heard as six of us sat down to dinner in Plaza Dorrego Tuesday night. An eclectic group – 3 Aussies, 2 Canadians and a Scot – and an easy mark as the ‘tourist table’ for the tango performers. Jorge and his partner then launched into some real tango for the most part, there were a couple of awkward bumps here and there but it was a free show so who’s complaining. With some dancing out of the way, the real business began – let’s hit up the ‘tourist table’ for pictures with the dancers and a bit of cash. Everyone at the table was a bit shy so I gladly broke the ice. A live official tango show in Buenos Aires costs as much as $100 CDN and consists of way more tango than I have a desire to watch. I’ll gladly pay a couple of pesos to watch a more raw, less refined performance and support the artists trying to make a living. As I stood up, Jorge brought me to the center of the square and told me to put my feet just like so and put my hands out just like this and next thing I knew there was a fairly scantily clad woman in my arms and I was frozen mid-tango. Again, well worth the 2 pesos (and no, unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of the picture. One of the others at the table took it and I wasn’t able to exchange contact info with her before she left. Time for some Facebook hunting…)
The next day, it was off to Tigre, the launching point for exploring the Parana Delta, a large Everglades/Bayou like area about 35km to the northwest of Buenos Aires. To get there we hopped on a train from Retiro Station (BA’s main public transportation hub) – the hour long ride cost only 2 pesos (or about $0.50 CDN). Arriving in Tigre was like walking into a whole new world compared to the hustle bustle of Buenos Aires. After spending two and a half rather hectic days in the city, the whole experience in Tigre was wonderful. We did a small walking tour of the Tigre area before stopping for lunch at the end of a quay in the Puerta de Frutas (fruit market) overlooking the delta – of course, as I’ve come to expect in Buenos Aires, a two man band showed up within minutes to provide some live entertainment. It’s like they just follow me around all day and start playing music whenever I sit down…
After lunch, we were faced with two options – take a one to two hour tourist boat cruise through the delta or, for half the price, take a half-hour ride on a commuter boat (what the locals use to get between the mainland and their homes on the delta) and get off somewhere and explore. After chatting up a lady at thr tourist information office who spoke perfect english, we decided on the more adventuresome self-exploration option and were soon on our way to the neighbourhood of Tres Bocas. We arrived to find a large expanse of beautiful yet not overindulgent homes, kind of in the fashion of the homes on Toronto Island. For over an hour, we walked around exploring the area wishing for our own little slice of paradise. About half way through our walk, a local dog joined us and proceeded to lead us all the way back to main dock. Everytime he got a little too far ahead, he would stop and wait for us – so cute! We watched the locals as they dived without hesitation into the muddy brown water to cool off. And then we decided to cool off ourselves, Northern Hemisphere style with a beer at the restaurant on the boat dock.
Before leaving, I received many nuggets of advice. One in particular stood out regarding the language barrier – just remember the line ‘Dos cervezas, por favor’ – and you’ll be fine. Arriving on the patio, I put the advice to good use. Unfortunately for me, Argentineans always have follow up questions. What I heard was ‘mambo jumbo bumbo’ and what he really asked was what size do I want. After we exchanged a number of confused looks, he started gesturing relative sizes with his hands and we started to get the idea. Exhausted from the heat, we just wanted a cold beer so I exclaimed ‘Grande cerveza!’.
Feeling accomplished, we sat down and waited for our beers with glee. A few minutes later the waiter showed up with two massive 1 L bottles of Quilmes, a local beer, encased in giant styrofoam containers to keep them cool. Grande cerveza indeed! Concerned about the cost of such a bottle and consulted the menu and discovered that the bottle cost only 15 pesos (less than $5 CDN). By comparison, a regular bottle of beer cost the same or more downtown Buenos Aires. I could get used to the lazy river life. But alas, it was not meant to be. After watching about 6 boats pass by on the way back to Tigre, we decided it was finally time to head back to BA. I called it an early night in preparation for my 4AM wakeup call to catch my 6AM flight to El Calafate and the beginning of my Patagonian Adventure.
I want to take a moment to thank Dave, who has been my travelling companion through most of my stay in Buenos Aires. Keep in touch and enjoy Kiev!
More photos on Flickr