Wine Nights and Sunny Afternoons
Our first evening in Buenos Aires, once we were finally rested enough from our travels, we showered, got dressed and head out to see the town. Buenos Aires is famous for it’s never-ending nightlife that goes on until dawn… it’s tango, steak, wine, flamenco. We couldn’t wait to get a taste of it.
We followed the hostels instructions and walked the two blocks up the street to Avenida 9 de Julio, ready to turn to the “derecha” (right) and see the swarms of restaurants unfold before us. To our surprise, we found ourselves walking down the side of a highway full of colonial architecture, graffiti and closed shop doors. Confused, we did all we could think of, and just kept walking.
When we finally stumbled upon a restaurant with a sidewalk patio, we happily settled into a table for two, perfect for people watching, and began to peruse the 18-page menu, debating about dishes and practising how to order our selections in Spanish.
The server finally approached us and we bravely delivered our order in espanol. “Dos lomo solo, una papas fritas y una botella de vino tinto – Pinot Noir por favor.”
He laughed and shook his head and relayed that all they had was salad, pizza and hamburger. And only 2 wines from the full page list.
So we’ll have the pizza then and a bottle of wine… whatever is available, so long as it’s wine.
Five minutes later he returned… shaking his head and laughing and saying “no vino”.
No vino. No wine?! No wine?!
Aren’t we in Argentina? Isn’t this place famous for it’s wine? Isn’t it cheaper than water? Isn’t that why we came here?
We pushed our chairs back and told him no thank you and continued to walk down the side of this highway, in search of something more promising. We didn’t want our first meal to be Coke and a hamburger at a glorified McDonald’s.
Well, after a little more walking and a little more searching, we did stumble upon an eclectic little hole in the wall called La Clac.
La Clac… Eclectic little resto.
It didn’t have a patio but at this point, we were too hungry and thirsty to be picky. We got a table for two, ordered a bottle of red and a pizza (nope, this place didn’t have steak either…) and began to stuff our faces.
Our meal at La Clac
With our wine buzz in full swing and our bellies full of mozzarella and basil, we took off into the night in search of more. More of what? Well, a change of scenery maybe. People to meet. More wine I suppose, really. We ended up popping into another hostel bar for a quick drink and a sweaty dance or two, but decided we really didn’t feel like getting hammered with a bunch of Aussie travelers that night and sweating under a strobe light. This was Argentina. We wanted to sit. Converse. Enjoy the warm night air.
And sip wine. Wine wine wine.
We found an open patio somewhere between us and our hostel and ordered dos copa de vino. Just one glass each and we’ll head to bed. Our server finished tongue kissing his lady friend in the corner of the restaurant (in plain view of all the other staff and customers of course), wiped his mouth but neglected to fix his collar, and came out to serve us our end of the evening glasses of wine. We ordered the cheapest on the menu. Something after tasting it we coined as… Vino de mierde. Shit wine.
Vino de mierde
But somehow, it seemed to go down just fine after a few tastes.
We talked and laughed and soon had struck up conversation with our neighbors at the next table as well. Drunk and confident, we practised our Spanish and the female at the table practised her English. The three men at the table were gypsy’s, she said. And one of them sang in a Flamenco band. They invited us to his show the following evening so we noted the name of the club and promised to be there. About… two or three more glasses of vino de mierde later, and about four hours of Spanglish, we stumbled back to our hostel just before the sun came up.
The next day…
This was so completely worth the walk. Doubting we would ever find this Parque Lezamo we had read about in Lonely Planet, we kept on walking through the cobblestone streets in the hot afternoon sun while blisters from my cheap new sandals began to form on my tired feet. When we were about to give up, we saw a glimpse of green straight ahead and there it was. So worth the walk.
We picked out a spot in the sun and I laid out in just my bando (such a comfy little excuse for a bra) and shorts. We had read the Lonely Planet write up on this park when we had selected it and as we sat and took in the scene around us, it was alarming how a writer could have predicted this day so bang on in a book that was published at least three years earlier (as this was the same LP I had taken on my first trip to South America in 2009)
We sat and watched as the upper class folk paraded around with their expensive looking pure bred dogs dressed in sweaters and hats (yes, hats). The tables of old Argentinian men focused intently on their chess games who sat in near silence until every few hours a game would be won and one table would erupt in cheer. There were teenage couples laying next to each other kissing and giggling, enamoured with each other and happy to have escaped the watchful eyes of their parents and teachers. Hippies sitting on blacks and sarongs reading and smoking joints. One man was playing his guitar quietly near us as his girlfriend lay beside gazing up at him. And from the other side of the park we could hear the beats of a drum circle floating towards us. Little girls shook their bums and danced along to the music. Little boys kicked a ball back and forth, future futbol players no doubt. We both decided then and there that this is how we wanted to spend our afternoons in this city.
Men playing chess at Parque Lezamo
So worth the walk.
I’m lying here now, content as can be. Calm. With just the slightest smile on my face. Breathing easy. Not really thinking about anything. Just watching. Existing.
It’s such a nice change after the month or so I’ve had previous to this. As some of you may know, six weeks ago I lost my brother. He passed away. And since then I’ve been a little more anxious, a little more stressed and sad of course. Having never lost anyone that close to me, I don’t really know how to grieve. And was feeling overwhelmed by my entire little universe.
I knew this trip would be the answer. Would bring me back to a calm and peaceful place. Would give me some perspective. Some space. Take away all the immediate worries and chores and to do lists of home. Strip me of all of it and leave me lying quietly in a park with nothing to do or accomplish. Just a chance to reflect. and hpoefully, as I go through this next five weeks with his birthstone dangling safely around my neck, I will discover my own way to grieve.