Travelogue Argentina 2003
February 4th, 2003
Sunday morning I arrived in Buenos Aires. Getting there was the first adventure. We had just boarded our plane in Munich when they announced that there was a snow storm over Paris and our takeoff would be delayed for 15 minutes. Then they served an orange juice and told us, that we had to wait about two hours. And finally we had to leave the plane because the flight got cancelled. There was another flight at 1900, but it was not even sure if this plane wouldn’t be cancelled, too. Together with Zuleidi and Ingo who had to catch the same connection flight to San Paulo at 2100 we talked to Lufthansa. The first employee did not even want to book us to Paris because the risk that we would miss our plane and they had to pay a hotel was unbearable for Lufthansa. Fortunately her shift ended and someone else handled our problem. As it was impossible to contact anyone of Tam (the Brazilian Airline) we decided to risk the flight to Paris, hoping that the flight to Brazil would also be delayed.
Shortly before nine we had left the plane in Paris, rushed through the airport until we found an information desk. We pushed our way in: Yes, the plane is delayed, is still there, but how much delay was not in the computer. Departure in completely different terminal. A sprint, a bus ride, another sprint, we weren’t even checked in yet. Pushed forward again, against massive protest, one misinformation, two sprints back and forth, pushed forward again. We persuaded a completely annoyed Air France employee who did not want to check us in because the plane was already gone to try it, another sprint and we were the last to arrive in the plane ready for takeoff and then even got the best seats ever. By the way, don’t be put off if you’ve never heard of TAM, the flight was as comfortable as much as the Lufthansa colleagues had been speaking negatively about TAM.
In Buenos Aires my backpack wasn’t there, but it wasn’t a surprise, because it was quite likely that our sprint through Paris Airport was too fast for the luggage crew … They meanwhile told me that my luggage was seen in San Paolo and was to arrive “one of these days”.
I took a hotel in San Telmo one of the oldest parts of Buenos Aires. Although I have a guidebook from 2003, the price information is all wrong: everything costs up to half less. In this case, tourists are the crisis parasites. he weather was cloudy and it even rained a little, temperatures slightly above 20 C and humid. This gives me a little time to get used to the heat because only days before they had up to 42 C and it will be like this soon again. In the afternoon I walked through the city and saw my first Tango demonstrations in a little park, drank a coffee and let the country, the mentality of the people and the atmosphere sink into my mind.
I booked a city tour which turned out to be a kind of taxi driver driving me through the city. I don’t even know now if he would have spoken English at all (he knew Danish!!!). In any case, communication in Spanish was somewhat limited, as he spoke a very strong dialect, like some Argentines. So I didn’t get the usual anecdotes of tourist guides but could tell the driver to stop whenever I saw something I liked. Buenos Aires has beautiful places and looks more (South-) European to me than Latin American. If you do not know the city it is hard to see signs of the crisis though there are many closed shops and empty houses.
Monday seems to be a day of rest in many areas, many museums and restaurants are closed. I then ate at some restaurant: I imagined I had eaten good beef before (albeit rarely): Wrong. For a spot price, I got the best, most tender, biggest steak I can imagine. Unfortunately, I am not someone who eats meat every day, otherwise the country would already be a paradise from there.
Wandering through the city I saw an announcement of a Tango show. The information looked good and I wasn’t put off by the fact that there weren’t any posters for the event in the cafe / theater. There were Tango lessons (I couldn’t participate, no suiting shoes and I was a little smelly as I couldn’t change my cloths for a few days) and then a show. It was not what I expected, it was a variety show, comedy, songs and travesty, quite funny and good though my Spanish was not good enough to understand everything. But after the show there was public dancing: I had stumbled in one of the few places were Argentines go to dance tango. All of the couples danced fine, some extremely well: What a dance!
They said my backpack was to arrive today in the morning … hopefully it does. If the UN inspectors would find my socks in one of Saddam’s palaces they might sue him for possession of biological weapons.
This might be my last day in Buenos Aires. I want to visit some parks and plan my route to the Iguazu falls, maybe passing through Uruguay and southern Brazil. Tonight I will visit a real Tango show which is said to be very good though very touristy. Read about it in my next report.
All the best from Buenos Aires, Argentina