Monday, November 8, 2010

The Russian is trying to keep his eyes open because he paid good money for the show but has been sampling the nightlife rather heavily. The Israeli is knocking back wine by the gallon and trying to pick up the Brasilian. The Englishman is complaining that he ordered his steak well done but it's just about mooing still. I haven't done this before - the full tourist deal: tango show with 'free' tango lesson included, dinner, the works. It's all ultra-slick, the busload of tourist cattle herded from point to point with efficiency and charm by young, handsome, smiling Buenos Aireans in black fedoras. The tango lesson is a mixed experience. Whether the move I can only term the 'legover' at the end of the twenty-second routine we get taught is hot or just plain wrong depends on whether your partner is a lithe, black-eyed Brasilian or a sixty-five-year-old housewife from Kansas City with arthritis. My conclusions from the lesson and the show? Firstly, that the learning of tango presents a major testicular hazard. Secondly, that tango is hotter than swing (the style of dance I've been learning in Oz). Yes, even hotter than belboa.

The dancers descend with intent into the aisles. Uh-oh. I am, however, comfortable in the knowledge that, despite my astonishing record for being singled out for public humiliation at every show I attend, the Russian is between me and danger. The Russian was between me and danger. The dancer is coming our way and I never saw a sleepy Russian move so fast. In a flash he's on the other side of the table and the dancer is raising her spangly finger... Nooooooo!! Yep, there's no escaping it. I join the damned in the aisle. I do my brave best to hold my own with the professional tango dancer. Then suddenly - baddaboom baddabang! - the other victims are returned to their seats while I'm abducted by three black-clad Argentinians, 'disappeared', then returned with fedora on head to be swept back down the aisle in the arms of the hottest of the tango dancers. Lights. Applause. Then the sweet anonymity of my seat. What was all that about? The biggest question though is: Why me? Why always me?

Ah well, that was my little touristy indulgence. Not exactly my thing, but kinda fun nevertheless, and the tango was spectacular. I think the Israeli got the girl too.

So I'm leaving Buenos Aires tonight for Cordoba, and I wish I could linger. My impressions of this city have changed a lot from my first post. Yes, it's dirty and grandiose and noisy. But it's not nearly as third world as I first thought. There are some very salubrious districts, you can get pretty much anything (except, it seems, a SIM card that works properly in my iPhone 4), and the lifestyle is modern and with-it. It's seductive and exciting and bursting with artists and musicians. I love this place, and I can fully understand the westerners I've met who've decided to live here, or 'commute' between their life in Australia or wherever and their life here. If only I had six months and I was twenty-five and fancy-free again. I'd hit the Spanish lessons hard and... (sigh).

I spent the day in the Recoleta district yesterday, wandering the famous cemetery where Eva Perron, among other Argentinian luminaries, is buried. It's spooky and atmospheric and a piece of walk-in art. Photos don't show it of course, but here's one anyway:

On the Spanish front, I'm improving. I woke up the other morning and stuff had sunk in somehow. I could say things. I can now read about 80% of what I see. Perhaps 'read' is the wrong word. 'Decipher' maybe. I can make sentences that amazingly have the desired effect upon their recipients. Ooh look! I say magic words, he does things! I just can't understand anyone. I swear these Argentinians can't speak proper Spanish! The consonants sometimes change for mysterious reasons, and my ability to interpret the word as I learned it is tenuous enough. It's hopeless...

OK, time to go find some lunch.

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