Martes 17 Noviembre
I arrived here at sunset by ferry from Colonia, Uruguay.
Our boat was welcomed by a sprouting of sky scrapers. Canary Wharf springs to mind, I feel a strange comfort. I imagine being an early immigrant arriving in this new land (before the skyscrapers) fleeing adversity and seeking some fortune.
My backpack feels huge, like I’m giving someone a piggy back. I wish it were lighter…smaller…but on this trip, with plans to head south to Patagonia just like the Fraser family, I included a tent and camping kit plus hiking boots…oh, and a 36″ hula hoop. This is the consequence 🙂
On emerging from Puerto Madero I haggle for a good taxi fare to Colegiales where Matti lives. We met through Capoeira in Salvador. I stay with him for my first few days and he helps me get organised with a Subte transport card + phone sim + phone apps to translate this matrix of calles /streets y colectivos /buses y barrios /neighbourhoods.
“Oh no” for Alfajores!
Matti also introduces me to ‘Alfajores’….oh dear, my Achilles heel twerks: they’re like a ultra-uber-mega-souped up Wagon Wheel with a smother of dulce di leche in the middle. To update you: ‘dulce di leche’ is one of the pillars on which Argentine gastronomy is rooted 🙂 A condensed milk caramel, it’s ubiquitous here and heavenly to taste. Danger!
I feel a distinct absence of culture shock being here in Buenos Aires. I keep reminding myself that I’m no longer in Europe but thousands of miles across an enormous expanse of ocean. According to the Portenos/ Buenos Airean locals, many profess Italian descent; the architecture here is a mixture of Italian, French and Spanish baroque as well as Art Nouveau and Deco. All in all the Euro-vibe starts to make sense.
This is a Swing City!
As always the local Swing dance scene is my faithful key, travel companion, my portal into a parallel experience. Buenos Aires is blessed with a bulging scene of daily classes and social dances. I am overjoyed and overwhelmed! Where does one triple step to first?!
Lovely Celeste meets me at a Big Band night in Belgrano, my first night on the town. She’s been non-stop all day with rehearsals for the forthcoming CAPOS (Campeonato Porteno de Swing/ Buenos Aires Swing Dance Championships). We met back in August in Sweden at the infamous Herrang Dance Camp.
Thankfully, she advises which classes to take and introduces me to two Americans who have lived here in the big Latino Smoke for the past year, Heather and Blake.
Tiempo para Aprender Espanol/ Time to learn Spanish
I take the leap and enroll myself on one week of Spanish classes on Suipacha from Lunes/ Monday. I must learn the language here! no excuses. This is a valuable lesson learnt from never-quite-grasping Portuguese in Brasil to any level other than limited casual chat.
After a couple of days of four-hour classes plus afternoon orientation tours, I’m tired but go along to Swing City dance classes nearby on Sarmiento. This is the Escuela de Baila Swing/ Swing dance school of jazz dance star Juan Villafane, Mariel Gastiarena y Manuel Bicain Goral. The mirrored studio is great, there are students a plenty, …..remarkably the Leads outnumber the Follows! and the class content is generous and challenging. !! HURRAH !!
I think I’m going to like it here 🙂