Notes from a traveller: part six (continued)

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Kaye has itchy feet. Again. Read why – and where they’re taking her – only on Just About Travel

 Continued from yesterday

Waiting for my backpack to appear at baggage reclaim, I felt like a methadone addict would outside a chemist that had yet to open. Once back in my original apartment, having been greeted warmly by my friends Carlos, Cande and Artsey, I realised I was at peace with the world. For the fact of the matter is that, for me, Argentina exists in all singing, all dancing glorious technicolour while London looks… grey.

That first weekend back in town, I slipped into my favourite Buenos Aires reverie which goes a little like this… a morning medialuna and Cortado on Corrientes Street, an afternoon spent pottering around Palermo before dinner at Don Julio (a widely popular parilla) and then onto a midnight milonga. Meanwhile Sundays are spent shopping in San Telmo, eating and drinking in its neighbouring barrio, La Boca or people watching with friends in Recoleta, where plastic surgery is de rigeur,  before taking a tango lesson. (As Argentine novelist, Ernesto Sabato, wrote: “Only gringos  [foreigners] dance tango for fun”). On such a weekend, I had to remind myself that life outside of Buenos Aires really exists.

Learning to tango at Confiteria Ideal - which featured in the Sally Potter's film The Tango Lesson

Learning to tango at Confiteria Ideal – which featured in Sally Potter’s film The Tango Lesson

photo 1

Milonga madness


Of course it does – as was made clear when news trickled in via Twitter that my treasured football team, Watford (for far too long a success challenged side) had won promotion to the Premier League! I was filled with joy, especially ecstatic at Watford’s form in front of goal (previous seasons have seen the Hornets hang shyly around the net, like an teenage boy trying to pluck up the courage to ask the coolest girl in school to dance). Conversely had Watford failed to gain promotion, I suspect I would have been sullen and uncommunicative but that’s football for you: it gets under your skin.

Fortunately that wasn’t something I had to explain to the Argentines who are nothing short of obsessed with soccer. I’ll never forget one Sunday I spent with my mate Mati – surely the most mild mannered man on the planet – watching his side play on the small screen, in a downtown bar. When his beloved Boca Juniors went 1-0 up over arch rivals River Plate, I was shocked to see that the person singing, nay screaming, “You’re sh**t and you know you are” – or Spanish words to that effect – at the River Plate players was… Mati.

Good times in Buenos Aires

Good times in Buenos Aires

Of course, as I have mentioned in previous dispatches, there’s plenty to frustrate about Buenos Aires. Everyone is on the make…. then there’s the Argentinian disease of inflation, the power cuts that plague the city on a regular basis and the feeling that – thanks to Queen Cristina (the current president) things are falling apart rapidly in Argentina. And yet reliable Wifi and order isn’t necessary for Buenos Aires to win my affections. For despite the fact that, as VS Naipau, put it “the failure of Argentina, so rich, so underpopulated, twenty three million people in a million square miles, is one of the mysteries of our time,” I adore this country of immigrants. (There’s a favourite local saying that “an Argentine is an Italian who speaks Spanish and wants to be English.”)

Back in my beloved Buenos Aires

Back in my beloved Buenos Aires

So much so that I’ve found myself sending my CV on spec to several English language publications and was elated when one esteemed newspaper emailed back to invite me in for an interview “mañana”. Alas it turned out to be a stalling device: mañana was a fiction. Eventually I took a leap of faith and made my way to the outlet’s offices, without a formal interview slot. Back home this would be taboo and career suicide – you’d simply wait to hear or not as the case maybe – but in Argentina there are no guarantees. Happily I did manage to meet with the editor who apologised for her radio silence, so let’s see…

For now though – with winter on it way and my backpack containing only summer appropriate clothes – it’s time for me to bid Buenos Aires a tearful goodbye. I rest my hand against the window and take one last look at the Paris of the south as the airplane gathers speed.

But this isn’t the end of my adventure. On the contrary – I’m off to Colombia – it’s just the start of it…

Talk soon!



To be continued on 26 May 2015

To read part one of Kaye’s ‘Notes from a traveller’ series, please click here

To read part two click here and here

To read part three, click here

To read part four, click here

To read part five, click here and here

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