I continue deepening friendships I’ve made in past years here, and through them I am making new ones as well. With friends old and new I spent a delightfully tranquil week in Atlantída, Uruguay at a lovely riverside resort where we rented a bungalow and waited out some of BA’s hottest days this summer! Thanks to Delia, a Uruguayan friend, I met two of her friends who live in Montevideo. Off to their country place for the weekend, they joined us for a swim in the pool and helped prepare a homemade parrilla (barbecue) complete with provoleto, a delicious grilled provolone choose dressed with oregano and olive oil, along with our colita de cuadril cut of beef cooked just right, and two kinds of sausages–morcilla (blood sausage) and italian sausage– on the grill too, complimented by a green salad, excellent bread, and, of course, lots of good Argentinian malbec wine to drink.Waiting to get back into the bungalow that afternoon so we could start preparing this wonderful dinner, we discovered we didn’t have the only key to open the front door. But thanks to Susana’s ingenuity we discovered an open bedroom window, and so I entered the bungalow cautiously, though that’s not what it looked like in one of the photos we captured in the moment.
I met Dani, Romina and Liz through my friend Gri, who was their English teacher. They have generously included me in their recent gatherings, and Dani, an architect, is planning to take us on an architectural tour of the city! I’ve also been seeing some North American friends who have travelled here, like my Chicago friends Angie, Pat, Roberta & Mary, who visited here briefly at the end of their South American cruise, and Mary Pat and her friends from Chicago, with whom I will travel next week to the northern city of Mendoza, the wine capitol of Argentina, and with whom I’ve been romping around the city again this past week.
Some of my new friends are Chris, from Oregon, his partner Jingzi, from China, and their delightful daughter Audrey, age 2-1/2. Audrey speaks English, Spanish and Chinese! She and I have had a few fun times together, but I was surprised to realize our preferred language together was Spanish! She, like my little friends Colette and Simon in Chicago, was fascinated to create pictures and make music on my ipad.
With friends from Chicago visiting I feel so much “at home”here. For three days in late January, Angie, Pat, Roberta and I toured the city by van, with our own driver who followed the route I mapped out for him. Since R & M were only here for one day, I planned what I call the “drive by day in BA.” I met them at the port where their cruise ship docked, sporting my homemade “Bienvenidos” (welcome) sign. Over the following 6+ hrs we went sightseeing, with stops like these:
- Puerto Madero and photos at The Women’s Bridge (Puente de la Mujer) by the Spaniard architect Santiago Calatrava, who also designed the marvelous Milwaukee Art Museum)
- La Boca, walking along the colorful Caminito and enjoying a cold drink atop the Fundacion Próa Museum
- a drive to Plaza Dorrego through the San Telmo barrio, site of the ever-expanding Sunday antiques, arts and crafts fair, including fruit and vegetable stands like this one inside the old Mercado de San Telmo,
and the bizarre Barbies display of one local vendor (see above)
- a stop to pick up our tango show tickets at the historic Cafe Tortoni (disappointing show unfortunately!)
- adjacent to each other, we visited the famous Casa Rosada, the Cathedral, the Plaza de Mayo, the Obelisco monument on the 14-lane wide Avenida 9 de Julio
- passing through my barrio, Recoleta with the famous Cementario de Recoleta;
- winding through Palermo to our excellent lunch at one of my favorite parrillas, La Cabrera Norte Restaurant, then back to the port and their cruise ship for the evening.
Similar to the personalized tour I set up for them is the city-sponsored touring bus—Bus Turistico— with 12 hop-on and hop-off stops throughout the city. It gives a good overview of the top sights and notable places in Buenos Aires at a reasonable price ($67 pesos or about $16 US). It’s a good way to help you decide which of the sights you want to return to at a later time. That’s what other visitors from Chicago have been doing since they arrived here.
I’m starting to really enjoy guiding Chicago tourists around Buenos Aires, now that I know the language and culture of both world class cities! Everyone has been generous to me as well, buying lunches, teas and dinners and giving me positive feedback on the solutions and suggestions I’m providing them. I’ve been treated so many times in the past few weeks I’ve considered wearing a sign reading, “Will work for food!”
I end this post with a note of sadness in memory of the 51 people who died and the more than 700 injured in the commuter train crash in Buenos Aires, Feb. 23, 2012.