I am so behind on blogposting thanks to exams, it is not even funny. Over the next week I’m going to play catchup—definitely a few posts about exams (spoilers: I passed, yay!), and a few book reviews that are outstanding (had to survive exams first, but now I get to read WHATEVER I WANT), and the obligatory birthday post (I turn 30 this Saturday, what??). But first, Buenos Aires.
This is dorky, but Jim and I wrote to each other practically daily the entire time I was gone, when we weren’t gchatting each other. Yeah, yeah, we’re still dorkyinlove. For your reading pleasure, excerpts from my side of the conversation. It’s lovely writing letters to a loved one while on vacation; I’m lousy about keeping a journal, but I’ll send endless smooshy emails. That said, I do not proofread my emails, because lazy medium is lazy, so TYPOS AHOY.
Day the first:
Went to a lovely lunch with mom and fred, and tonight we go to a tango bar (lessons for an hour, then dancing. Eeee!). I hope I don’t fall asleep. I have been hitting the cortados super hard (cortado = closest thing to a dry cappuccino). The city is gorgeous but definitely hit hard by poverty–where my parents are living is upscale-er but reminds me more of Logan Square than anything (with more green–everything is so lush). I read that Charlie Stross book and another 200 pages of Pynchon; the TV at my airplane seat would only play movies in Spanish and I refused to work that hard. Took a Xanax, slept for six hours or so. And I did manage to buy an eye cover in the airport, which made a big difference.
Day the second:
Parents’ place is walking distance to what Katja said is the best tango spot in Argentina. We attended a tango lesson (in Spanish, eek!), saw Alberto Podesta sing (I guess he is a big deal), and then drank wine and watched hundreds of tango-dancing Argentinians. Got asked to dance twice, and both guys taught me things and tolerated me tripping over myself, besides the massive language difficulties. I wish I was better at it! It made me want to take lessons at Katja’s tango place SO BAD. So yes, that is a thing we should do, despite our absurd height difference.
[This is where the strange fever/sinus/virus/hellish illness I likely contracted on the airplane rears its ugly head. I spent five days of a ten-day trip flat on my back, hoping I could avoid a trip to the hospital. It was….not quite the trip I’d expected.]
Day the sixth:
I am slowly crawling back to wellness, but ugh it goes slowly. Went out for lunch with the family (Cafe Mua, the same place parents took me on day 1), and between energy spent on digestion and the short walk there, I pretty much collapsed into bed when we got home. Water, rest, and recovery are in my future. My throat’s not so swollen, though, and the horrible headache and sinus pressure is reduced to a reasonable throbbing; really the major symptom left is fatigue. I should be well just in time to catch whatever crap’s in the air on the plane ride home. Sigh.
Day the seventh:
Much news today, as I actually felt well enough to do a little sightseeing. We walked to the Xul Solar museum, which was fantabulous–I almost bought a print titled “The Flying Village.” It was steampunk crossed with Kandinsky crossed with fabulism. He was Borges’s best friend. I had no idea. Seriously worth a google image search. Tonight we’re going out to eat, since it’s been four days of broth and the slow reintroduction of food.
Day the eighth:
Did ALL THE BORGES-related things today. Went to the tiny museum run by his widow and took a lovely tour in English (given by an adorable law student whose off-kilter translations were way more interesting than perfect clarity ever could have been). Got to see some original manuscripts,, written in crazy code, full of symbols of his own devising. Tiny, crabbed but still neat handwriting. Also, he spent time at the Universidad de Alacala de Henares, the same university where I studied in Spain. I caught a glimpse of Maria, his widow, even. Then we went to the Recoleta cemetary, which is like a goth kid’s Disneyland–giant Catholic sepulchers, hundreds of ’em. Saw Evita’s tomb and wandered through the grounds, which seriously look like “Blink.” So many creepy weeping angels.
Then on to a shi-shi lunch in the swankiest part of town (savory crepes), and then on to see the belles artes museum. Saw two Manets and some Rodin, and a Van Gogh, and a Monet…all the usual suspects.
Then, visited the floralis generalis, which is BA’s version of the Bean. It’s a steam-powered giant flower (think the satellite dish Magneto moves in that X-men movie…it’s that big, and that silvery) that opens and closes at sunrise and sunset. Then on to the national library of Argentina, where Borges worked on and off during his lifetime. And…the building looks like UCSD’s library.
Like a spaceship about to take off. We went up to the top floor. Oh, and another confluence: at the first Borges museum, our guide mentioned that a couple of doctoral students had, for their dissertation, aggregated all of Borges’s notes from his thousand-book library and collated them. Well, the library sold copies of the full manuscript. Borges took notes in Spanish, German, French, and English–fluent in all of them, the jerk. I got to burrow through thousands of pages of notes (not the originals, but still) of marginalia Borges left in works ranging from Dante to Bradbury. SO AWESOME, RIGHT?? Makes me want to bone up on Spanish, and try to get my Dutch back, since it’d make the slide over to German that much easier. Maybe in my next lifetime… I just wish I had some French, like my brother. Today actually felt like a real research trip. Sad news, though–the literary Borges tours no longer exist. Sad puppies. Used to be you could go on a taxi-tour around major Borges-related sights, with a guide who was a literature professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. But I guess they stopped giving those tours. A pity.
Day the ninth:
Yesterday was long and felt good, because it was all museums and libraries and brain-food stuffs. Today, we shopped, and it was blegh. Fred and I are both in dire need of shoes, but shoe-shopping is made of pure Satan. I think between the two of us we tried on every shoe in Buenos Aires, and neither of us bought shoes. I picked up a lightweight cotton dress and two overshirts, but no shoes. Stupid shoes. Stupid feet. And then Mom’s knee (related to her hip problem) started acting up, because we’d been walking all day, and she was limping by the time we made it home. I’m worried about her, especially since tomorrow’s another long day.
I did make to El Alteneo, however, the crazy gorgeous bookstore that used to be an opera house. We had lunch on the stage, and it was delicious. Gave me ideas for summer sandwiches: Pesto/tomato/mozzarella/parm, arugula/parm/mozz/olive tepenade, and salmon/caper/cream cheese. Oh, and cucumber/cream cheese, and roasted red pepper/goat cheese. Yums. And yes, three of those we ate at Ateneo. I bought postcards for Andy and Sacha; hopefully I can find stamps and a place to mail them before I leave Monday.
I really hate being so far from my family. We’re going to a Swedish fusion restaurant tonight: Olsen. It has a vodka bar. In theory we may also try to get into one of BA’s many secret bars (like that speakeasy across from the taco place in Chicago). Depends how Mom’s feeling, though.
I also went to a tango shoe store and salivated over dancing shoes. They were cheaper than in the US, but still too pricey for me, given that I’m no longer dancing regularly. Oh, but I miss it…
Day the last:
Went to San Telmo and walked the long road up to the pink palace. It’s a giant outdoor marketplace on Sundays (covered in tourists, but still lovely). Bought a few small things, earrings, a scarf. Supposedly people randomly tango dance along the avenida, but though we saw several groups of musicians and a few dancers sitting down and resting their toes, I didn’t catch any more tango. Guess that means I’ll have to come back.