Lots to say today! I want to do a rundown of yesterday, our day off. Katie and I had big plans to finally find a bus pass and get our own way into town. So we walked down to the bus stop and did our best to express our wishes to the lady at the kiosk... but they were sold out. We went and asked at the gas station... they didnt sell them, and while we could manage to form the question of which place did sell them, understanding her rapid fire answer was next to impossible. So we walked back over the bridge to another kiosk, where the patient clerk was willing to help out some clueless gringas. She directed back to the first kiosk... where we knew they were sold out. So... plan B. Katie messaged Rodrigo and we had to meekly ask him for a ride into town, and like the good patient soul he is he decided to help us out. While we waited for him to arrive, we got ice cream at the place near the kiosk... holyshitdelicious. I may laugh at this Argentine obsession with dulche de leche, but add shredded coconut in a fresh waffle cone and you get HEAVEN.
So Rodrigo took us on a tour, starting off with an artistic district right off the port. First sight of the day was of a rowdy soccer mob on their way to a match, chanting and arguing and drinking copious amounts of open liquor, all of them flanked by police with riot shields and bats. All sensible precautions taken! The cobblestone streets and vendors down the crooked alleys were amazing to look at it, and the outdoor restaurants and tango demonstrations all lent a very European feel to the place... it was gorgeous.
After the port we took off to see the city center, stopping on the way at this huge green park in the middle of city, all massive live oaks and frolicking children and fashionable old men in berets playing chess at park benches. It was truly beautiful... and foreign... and exotic.
The city center was yet another sensation. The widest avenue in the world (16 lanes of madcap hairpin traffic... I'm breathing a sigh of relief in that I will not actually need to drive here...), with boulevards of huge, gnarled mature trees and the streets flanked with cafes and theatres and grand hotels... it was incredibly urban and jam packed with people on a Sunday evening. We went to one of the cafes and ate cheese, salami and nuts and had some Argentine wine on the second floor, overlooking the avenue. The constant drum of Spanish everywhere is overwhelming but so intriguing... still, it was very useful having Rodrigo there to help us out, as I'm quickly discovering that while I can sometimes get my needs across, it's a miracle if I can understand any kind of response! I usually have to puzzle it out from the snatches of vocab I can understand, or just do my usual and stare blankly at them.
Oh, and I forgot to mention our purchases for the day: mate straws. Yes, I am determined to drink (and enjoy, damn it!) this mate stuff before I leave. I'll let you know how she goes...
All in all it was a really awesome day. I'm so excited to see more of Buenos Aires and I had a great time with Rodrigo and Katie. Monday back to work was a pretty great day too, actually... but that's for the next entry!