Stacy in Antarctica

An adventure to the frozen continent

Nov 2nd – Bienvenidos Argentina

In true jet lag form I woke up quite literally at the crack of dawn on my first day in Buenos Aires. At around 6:30am two of my new guest house cohabitants joined me in the kitchen for coffee. Nan & Kathy were preparing for another big day of sight-seeing, which put my lack of planning completely to shame. Obviously, I was only just arriving in the country and had a lot to catch up on but I’d actually arrived in Buenos Aires with no real plans to see anything in particular. In my guest house there was a shelf full of assorted Buenos Aires guide books so I looked through one and decided that the first place I should go was into the city centre to orient myself a little. I figured as long as I got out for a few hours I would be more likely to get accustomed to the local time zone.

Ana, our extremely friendly host, arrived at around 9:30am and prepared some pastries for breakfast, while explaining to me some of the places that I could go to and the ways I could get around the city. The guest house is located on Avenida Rivadavia, the main road that cuts the city into north and south. The Acoyte subway station is located on the corner, no more than 50m from the guest house. During breakfast, Nan & Kathy expressed an interest in attending a Tango show that evening, which I was eager to join. Ana said that she would book everything for us and we would just need to be back at the house by 9pm for a taxi pick up. After breakfast I packed my camera and went down to the Subte (subway) where I caught the train into the Plaza de Mayo.

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The Plaza de Mayo is the political and financial heart of the city. The first place that caught my eye was the Casa Rosada to the east, the magnificent and comically pink coloured palace. The balcony of which has been the site of many iconic political addresses to the Argentine people. In contrast, on the far west end of the Plaza lies the stark white Cabildo building, quite plain in comparison with the ornate architecture of the buildings surrounding it. It has also been the site of many government organisations throughout its years. The plaza itself has historically been the site of many demonstrations up until this day. Even today there is a permanent camp set up on one side in protest about something to do with the Malvinas/Falklands war (which ended in 1982).

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After taking in the plaza and its surrounds I decided to walk down one of the streets towards a silhouette of an obelisk in the distance. On this road I also found the ticket booth for the open-topped Buenos Aires Tourist Bus that I decided to take a tour on in the coming days. The Obelisco is quite an imposing structure, located in the middle of the 12 lane wide Avenida 9 de Julio, the main north-south arterial through the city. The Obelisco was constructed to commemorate a number of major events in the history of the city, notably the 400th anniversary of the first founding (1936) and the naming of Buenos Aires as the capital in 1880. On the walk back to the Plaza de Mayo I found a shop that sold a wide variety of glistening tango shoes that caught my eye. After walking around for a few hours I was exhausted and decided to head back to the guest house for a much-needed siesta before the tango show.

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At 9pm my new guest house buddies and I were picked up by a taxi and were taken to the Esquina Homero Manzi for the tango show. Ana had arranged everything and booked us a table in a prime position. When we sat down we were informed by the waiter that the show would cost us $270 pesos and would include a selection of drinks and canapés provided from a set menu. This came as a surprise to us because the other guest in our apartment, Karina, had told us before we left that the show would cost only $140 pesos, a price which was much more to our liking. Ana put on her South African bargaining shoes and spoke to the owner about the price difference. They agreed we could pay the reduced rate of $140 pesos on the condition we paid in cash and anything we ordered would be extra on the bill. That suited us fine and we ordered some waters and settled in for the show.

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The show was enjoyable but it was more of a variety of tango dancing, singing and musical interludes. I believe this was to provide ample time for the costume changes employed for each item. We were a little disappointed to not see as much dancing as we expected. The dancing was still great to watch as they make the moves look so simple and elegant. I hope to see a little more of the dancing in less choreographed environment before I leave.

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