Thursday, April 06, 2006

Que cheto!

I went to an event the other night, Vinos y Rouge, a promotional thing to bring women and wine together, like makeup and clothes(seriously, that was the moniker). Because for too wine has been the territory of the man, and now it is time for the woman to come into her own. There is a word here, cheto, very sheik, top, maybe snobby, and that's what it was. Models, free drinks and food, fashion, black ties and gowns, and funky fashion wear, lots of nice cars, free drinks and food, all held at the local Hippodromo, or horse track. Needless to say, my friend and I were the only ones to show up on foot, and we strolled right past the waiting security checking VIP invites. Sometimes it is a blessing to be a foreigner, especially a white english speaking one.

However, I can't say I fit in perfectly, my attire was slightly less than posh that evening, my friend at least had a button down shirt. Regardless, I mingled easily. Chatted up these old ladies, both widowers, that now breed horses (hey ho sugar mama!!). I imagine their plastic surgeon has enough money now to breed horses as well, however he should be fired for they were not great works of art. I kept worrying that one of the lady's eyes was going to fall down. We were given a lot discourse on the advantages of joining the local elite wine and cubano's club, once a year they go to Havana for cigars and drinks. Had to break Roberto's heart and say we wouldn't be joining today, but would be happy to take his business card.
I was there about three hours, and with at least two dozen booths serving wine, champagne, and beer, I rolled out when they closed the place down. I don't believe I caused too much of a scene, but in these situations, it's rather difficult to be sure.

The night before, I went to an art gallery, the artist being the father of a friend of my cousin's. I strolled over with the same friend to the barrio known as Belgrano, a rather fancy part of town. Allow me to paint a picture, I was in flip flops, jeans, my Rolling Stones t-shirt, "Pierde tus sueños, quizás pierdas la razón" with a button down shirt Helen P. made with birds on the back (they look like splotches of white paint at first glance). The man at the door asked my name for the list (there's a list?), and I bumbled about saying how I was friends with the artist's family and we were all very important people, yadda yadda, I'm white, I speak miserable spanish, adelante, go forward! Of course the place was filled with more high-art types, all moderately older in suits or nice dresses, clean shaven generally, and I'd say a fair smattering of plastic surgery in the mix. We stuck out, however, the great equalizer in these sorts of functions, booze and snacks, made me feel right at home. That is until I put my foot in my mouth when I told my cousin's friend that I liked the paintings of her father in the other room more than the one's we were standing near. Those were not her father's paintings.

I went to the Cataratas de Iguazú for the weekend. Sometimes I don't make very wise decisions. Taking a 15 hour bus ride for a weekend trip could fall under that category. However, the buses here are incredibly comfortable, it's more like a moving living room. Your seat is something like a lazyboy, and they show delightfully awful movies for the majority of the journey. The one whiskey per seat rule really needs to be banned ( but as with everything, I find if you ask real nice, you can find a little leeway ). I also did not appreciate being woken up at 6 for breakfast when there were 6 hours still remaining of the journey. Crazy Argentines.

For those of you that have done a little youthful travel, you may be versed on the subject of hostels. If not, allow me to shed some light on the subject, in my completely unbiased, objective manner. I hate hostels. They're generally dingy, it's reminiscent of some kind of bad summer camp, filled with kids that just want to move their party to some other locale without actually feeling like they are someplace else. (Political correctness is about to be defenestrated), in addition they are almost always filled with a certain type of foreign youth. Now I like just about everybody ( sometimes ). However, groups of single nationalities are just bad.

The British and their Commonwealth associates (australians, kiwis, south africans, to a lesser extent canadians) drink a great deal, make a lot of noise, lose all their dignified composure, and get upset when little old ladies in foreign countries don't understand English. All these kids go to hostels and do their there. The Israelis do a lot of drugs, rarely have composure, and get upset with little old ladies that try and make a living selling things by turning a profit. They also fill hostels. In my "vacations", I think I've stayed roughly 4 or 5 nights in a hostel, one was okay, but that was a beach in Uruguay, there were only a few Uruguayans there, and an Italian. You may get the impression that I paint Americans in a favorable light, no worries, I dislike them as well, but we only go on package tours and get shuttled from our hotel to a designated safe for tourism zone, we're pretty German in that sense. Just to put aside any thoughts that I have general animosity towards these groups, the majority of friend's I've made on the road are Israeli or Commonwealther. It's just that there are different types of people, and the hostel ones, Dave no likey.

So, I was close to being forced to stay in a hostel in Puerto Iguazú. Luckily, a fat shirtless man watering his flowers and I started chatting. We agreed on the loathesome nature of hostels, and he told me his sister rents private rooms on the same "manzana" (literally apple, but in this context, block). Same price as a bunkbed, my own room and bath. Super!! (Sidenote, if you've been travelling for a while, finding a nice place to stay is really a highlight of your day).

Took a nap, then went wandering about the town. Made friends with the artesaniales in the plaza. These people are everywhere in Argentina. Latinos that have given up their roots, and roam about selling handmade knicknacks. They are generally very friendly, occasionally violent, and at the least interesting. They share everything, but the devil with that is they want you to share as well, and I lost half my sandwich to two of them and didn't have money to buy another. Got schooled by old man in chess, but at least I loss with grace and took the majority of his kingdom down with me.

The next day went to the Parque, did some touristy stuff. The Falls really are incredible, and the engineering in placing catwalks right up to their edge, 100s of yards out in the river, is pretty neat. However, the throngs of Brazilians and Argentine package tourists (see I don't discriminate, latinos can be just as bad), made me feel a little claustrophobic. So I wandered off down a jungle trail to a more secluded waterfall, swam a little bit, hung out with a cook from the Sheraton Internacional, she snuck me out some food from the hotel and my hunger was sated once more.

The next day headed down to the Tres Fronteras, the border of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, situated on the confluence of the rios Paraná and Iguazú. Odd thing about this place is, they have poles for the flags of Paraguay and Brazil, but no flags. Same goes for the other two, which you can see across the water. One might be moved to imagine issues between the friendly countries, or I've spent too much time near disputed border zones and am always looking for something more scintillating than watching a ferry chug along.

Returned to BsAs via yet another 15 hour journey, this one with military checks! Since I've recently quit work, I have a whole lot more time to do whatever the devil I want. One of the things I've wanted to do is a choripan comparison test. There is a beautiful park near where I live, La Reserva Ecológica. I often go run and wander about. In front of this park there is a long avenue. Typically, this sort of location would be developed with shishi cafes and the like, but this is Argentina! Instead there are roughly two dozen mobile parilla huts, all selling the same goods. The most popular, the choripan. Choripan is mix of two words, chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread). I have always wanted to eat as many different choripans as possible, simply for the sake of bettering my knowledge of this city. Tuesday, I did this. After my second, I felt a sharp pain down my right arm, I wrote this off since generally the symptom of a heart attack is down your left side. However, after my fourth, I was done. Looking back, after two days of subsequent digestive issues, I am rather disappointed in my performance. Perhaps I should have followed
Takeru Kobayashi's championship strategy of soaking my buns in water first, but would that really have been the same thing?

Yup, my life here is pretty tough.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... yadda yadda, I'm white, I speak miserable spanish,..."

there it goes again, "im white" LOL Argentines are as genetically "white" as other caucasian italian-american/ french-american / german-americans

again those misconceptions running rampant, btw there is no "white" ethnicity/race.. there is a caucasoid race group and that is divided by ethnicities, the same ones in Argentina/US

10:32 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yes, there are many caucasian Argentines, but trust me, there are very few Argentines that look like me. Besides, my blog is my place to be as opinionated as I like, and, if you didn't notice, as tongue in cheek as I can. Perhaps I do not take the time to use the exact "proper" vocabulary. My point is I feel not Argentine, perhaps if I used the word "gringo" it'd be acceptable?
Anyways, life is more fun with rampant misconceptions, just don't take them too seriously.

4:14 PM  

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