Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buenos Aires, November 2010, a synopsis


We met a guy, Derek, at the airport.  He was nonplused that he had to pay the $140 entry fee.  It turned out that although he has been living in Nashville, he's actually from Poland.  We suggested that he use his Polish passport and he got into Argentina with having to pay the reciprocal fee.  He came for a 2 month stay to learn tango.  He's very focused.  We shared the car to Casa Palermo and helped him get a hotel for the first couple of nights.  I asked Leo if he knew anyone who had a place for rent and Leo offered to rent a room in his house (!).  Derek liked the idea and we took him to Leo's the next day for a look.  He signed up on the spot.   (photo above:  Derek and Carolyn at La Mamma Rosa)



The gaucho


The gaucho’s girl


Our friends Maria and Tin (Maria owns a boutique hotel, Magnolia, 1 block from Casa Palermo) invited us for the weekend to their family farm about 2 hours from San Isidro.  The farm belonged to Tin's parents, but he and his 6 siblings inherited it at some point.  It's two or three hundred hectares and there are about 15 or 20 horses.  They rent a major portion to a neighboring farmer who grows soy and corn.  The soil there is amazing, for farming.  There isn't a stone to be found . . . pure loam.  No cattle around here!  They have a rambling house with a swimming pool, but it was too cool to swim.  And there's a house for the gaucho and his woman (not sure if it's a wife or what).  The gaucho and his family seem fairly self sufficient.  They have pigs, chicken, lambs, goats, duck, and other animals.  Unlike at Killasonna Lodge, the guacho’s woman prepared the meals and cleaned up.  Pretty sweet.  Saturday evening we drove to the nearest town (about 25 kilometers), Capitan Sarmiento, for pizza. On Sunday we took a long walk through the farm and adjoining farms in search of an abandoned farm house that Tin knew about.  Eventually we found it buried in a jungle of trees and bushes, surrounded by corn and soy.  When we returned, the gaucho prepared an asado for lunch. 


Above, with Adriana and Carlos


Above, with Maria and Tin


On the roof of the boat.


Dramatic sky in the delta.

JBrzezinski_IMG_1083GW_14576_w1000 Above, the boat, docked at the end of the evening.

Adriana and Carlos invited us to their boat again and invited us to bring our friends Maria and Tin along.  Although these two couples live nearby each other in  San Isidro, they had never met. We met at Adriana and Carlos' house, which has a huge yard.  In one corner, they built a small house for Adriana's mother.  Sol, their daughter, is an architect and design/built the house.  Spectacular.  I told them to build another in the opposite corner of the yard and we'll move in.  The boat is now equipped with a parilla (grill), so we had an excellent asado, anchored in some lost cove in the delta.  The evening was magical.  There were huge turtles, fish and colorful birds swarming around and grabbing the bread that we threw into the water.  Then, and this was weird, it drizzled around the boat.  Not on us, just around us.  You could see the drops hitting the water all around us, but nothing was hitting us.  We were, of course, sitting on the roof, drinking wine.  In the distance there were fantastical clouds, lightning and occasional thunder.  Magical.

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(photos above:  Leo working on this print; Adriana pulls the finished print off the press; Alejandra is cleaning up, while Adriana talks on the phone.)

Every Wednesday, Leo goes to a studio to create his paintings.  I call them paintings, but they are actually monoprints that are made on an etching press.  I asked if we could accompany him and he obliged.  The studio is actually a room in the apartment of a woman named Adriana.  She is an artist who also holds classes and provides studio time to artists like Leo and Alejandra (another architect/artist there that evening).  It was fascinating to watch Leo and Alejandra produce their prints.  It was very collegial and afterwards we all went out for dinner.  (note:  Several days later, Leo gave us his print as a gift.  When we return to BA, we plan to have it framed.  A big kiss for Leo!). 

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A couple of years ago Tito told us about the thinnest building in Buenos Aires.  We tried to find it, but failed.  This time we finally we found it.  It's amazingly thin, yet it presents an impressive facade along the wide part.  The first photo, above, shows the thin edge.  The second photo shows the impressive front.  (corner of Anchorena & Arenales)

Of course, we spent a great deal of time enjoying the food.  Last year Julia gave me a book about the bogedones of BA.  We have been to several and decided that we should make a point to visit each one at some point.  We picked one near Cementario Chacarita and headed there on our bikes.  We went through an interesting neighborhood that for many blocks consists of stores that sell auto parts, pieces and related things.  Some (or many) stolen, I'm sure.  When we arrived at the restuarant, we found it had gone out of business.   But I remembered seeing an interesting place along the way, so we went there instead.  Splendid idea.  Campo dei Fiori is an Italian place with American gangsters festooning the walls.  They offer a lunch special for $23 pesos.  I ordered gnocchi and natilla for desert.  Well, the gnocchi were simply amazing.  They absolutely melted in my mouth.   Natilla is essentially creme brulee without the crispy topping.  Needless to say, we returned a week later for another helping!

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(photo above:  The floor at Campo dei Fiori . . . below, the waiter and manager)



Above, El Ateneo, a bookstore in a what was once a movie theater.  Great adaptive re-use!  Click the photo to see a large version.

The night before our last day we went to an opening at the studio that Felix Rodriguez and about four other artists share.  We were happy to see Felix and glad to see he was well and painting.  Felix had suffered a brain aneurysm a couple of years ago, but has largely recovered. 

All sounds perfect, but there were are couple of unhappy events:

Just a couple of days after arriving, I dropped my external hard drive.  Somehow, Tito was able to get the drive working for a short time and I was able to save many critical files.  The next time I started my computer, however, it would no longer work. Thanks to Tito for saving those critical files. 

On Sunday night (NOV-28-10), after returning from Tin and Maria's farm weekend, we met Pablo (Julia's novio) for dinner at La Mamma Rosa.  Minutes after Pablo arrived Carolyn exclaimed, "Someone's stealing our bikes!"   Indeed two guys were already hopping on and leaving on our bikes.  Pablo and I gave chase.  I lasted one full block before having to slow down to a walking pace.  Pablo ran for four!  He got near them, but they spotted him and ran off into the night.  Bastards.  We bought replacement bikes the next day, but this time a very, very thick bike chain.


Above, our new bikes outside a new heladeria in our neighborhood, called La Colonia.  The chocolate mousse helado was the best I’ve ever had.


Above, Camila and Tito, at the restaurant Cabernet (Jorge Luis Borges 1757), where they treated us to a spectacular dinner.  Memorable, possibly forever, is the calamari appetizer.  It was exquisite!


Last, but not least, a plug for +5411, which is my favorite men’s clothing store in BA because they carry exactly my favorite jeans.  They’re are almost an exact duplicate of my old Levi’s 505 jeans.  Of course, Levi’s no longer makes 505 jeans.  They make something called 505’s, but they are cut differently; relaxed.  If I want more relaxed, I’ll drink more wine, thank you.  Anyway, a guy named Paolo is part owner of +5411.  Go visit him and buy some jeans that feel good.  (photo above: Paolo with Carolyn and me.  Yes, those beautiful jeans are my +5411’s.  And that’s the belt I just bought.  Me . . . rocker.)


Blogger Carla said...

You guys seemed to be having the time of your lives. When you were there, did you go see La Rural? It was through this association's promotion of Argentina's agricultural resources that Argentina was able to become an important world economic force by the end of the 1800s. Their headquarters remain in Buenos Aires on the 400 block of Calle Florida. A modern exhibition hall has been added and is often the site of international expos, conferences, and other exhibitions. The United States Embassy is located behind this complex. I had a Buenos Aires rent there and saw it from the wondow of my flat!

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