Tuesday, 19 April 2011

BA Part Deux

We've now left Buenos Aires with heavy hearts after three fantastic weeks living there, and we're back on the road! We enjoyed BA so much, and were getting so much out of our Spanish courses, that we seriously considered staying there a bit longer, but after listing all the places we still want to see we realised we really had to get going if we wanted to see them all.

Living with Susana really made our BA stay something special. She was great fun and always made the time to sit and chat with us in Spanish so that we got lots of practice. She also took us out in her car a few times to show us round some of the suburbs of Buenos Aires. We´ll miss you, Susana!

One weekend we took the train out to Tigre, about an hour north of Buenos Aires. Tigre is a pretty town in the Paraná Delta, and lots of porteños (people from BA) go there on weekends. The town is surrounded by interconnecting streams and rivers, and lots of people are out on boats, canoeing, rowing, or motoring down the street-like waterways. I'm afraid to say we forgot to bring our camera on the trip, so I can´t post photos, but it was a beautiful day. There were lots of market stalls selling artisan furniture, jewellery, food, etc, so lots to see and do. We took a boat trip down the waterways in the afternoon, and we really got a sense of how the waterways were like streets - there were houses along the banks of the rivers and every house had a jetty and a boat to get around. Smaller streams branched off the main rivers like smaller roads, and lots of people were out on their jettys sipping their evening mate and waving as we went past.

We also paid a visit to the Mate Museum in Tigre. As Stu mentioned in his last post, mate is drunk in Argentina and Uruguay with the same regularity and enthusiasm with which us Brits enjoy a nice cup of tea. We always see people out and about in town with their mate cup in hand and a thermos of hot water tucked in the crook of their arm to keep it topped up. Mate is a caffeinated drink brewed from yerba mate (green in colour, quite bitter, sometimes sugar is added). It is drunk from a gourd through a metal straw with a filter on the end to filter out the leaves. The Mate Museum in Tigre had a very large display of mate cups made in hundreds of styles and lots of different materials.

We got back to BA that evening and hopped in the car with Susana to go to a tango class! The class was held in a big, spooky room with echo-ey tango music played loudly out of the shadows. The other people in the class already knew the basics and looked pretty good at tango, and we headed into the fray to give it our best shot. But it was so much harder than it looked! You have to have your feet really close to your partners, which resulted in Stu and I treading all over each other most of the time! You need to be so tuned in to your dance partner´s steps, twist your hips and cross your feet over each other´s a lot. Phew! Needless to say, we stuck with practising the first basic steps while the rest of the class worked on some more complex flourishes. It was in equal parts interesting, embarassing and hilarious, but I´m very glad to have given it a go! Here are some of the more accomplished students in the class - it was very atmospheric:

The Friday just gone was our last day at Spanish school, and we both received our certificates! I can´t speak highly enough of the classes we had at Íbero - the teachers were great and I really learned a lot and got lots of practice. Special thanks to our teachers, Alejandro and Marina!

I will also miss our local lunch spot just down the road from our school. This nameless, veggie, help-yourself buffet place had loads of delicious fresh salads and yummy veggie takes on Argentinian food, like aubergine tortillas and pumpkin empanadas - yum! We went there almost every day...

Being studious types, we got some extra language practice at 'Spanglish', which was an evening event for people wanting to practice Spanish and locals wanting to practice English. It was like a language exchange crossed with speed-dating: you sit at a table with someone fluent in Spanish, and you chat for five minutes in Spanish, five minutes in English, and then move on to the next table to talk to somebody else. All this, and in a pub too! Spanglish nights had the added bonus that we made some new friends in Buenos Aires.

On our last night in BA, we drove to Palermo with Susana. Palermo is a posh area of BA, with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. It was a really nice to have a wander about the area, chatting and peeking in shops and market stalls. We even saw a very nonchalant stilt walker at one point, who gave the impression that he didn't know why people were looking at him. Here we are with Susana having dinner in Palermo:

I would really like to go back to Buenos Aires one day - it's certainly been one of the highlights of our trip so far.

1 comment:

  1. Well done you both, for your Spanish course and certificates! Hurrah!!!

    About Parana district, that's where Tatuś's grand-uncle migrated in about 1900, with his umpteen daughters. There are Wujastyks there, including the name. I'm connected with several on Facebook. Have a look at my friends. I think most are in Brazil, though. X Dad