Argentina Diaries: Day 2 / by vanessa

It is clear to me after choosing to rent an apartment that a) this is the best way to travel and b) I wish I could be here for a month -- an immersion in the language and culture. It's not always easy though -- there is no concierge for recommendations, lesser chance to meet up with other travellers to speak with in English as a reprieve -- all that. But, and this makes it all worth it -- you feel as if you are part of the city.

On Sunday after waking up late, we headed out for the day. First stop, San Telmo, home to a huge flea market. By the time we got there, we were pretty hungry so we stopped in a cafe to get breakfast. I didn't like my pan -- the bread pieces were like croûtons -- so we paid and left to look for another place. We found a French restaurant recommended in both our guidebooks but it didn't open til 12:30. In the meantime, we walked the fair. Every tourist book, site, blog, and bathroom stall I read before my trip recommended watching the tango dancers who perform on the side of the street in San Telmo. Unfortunately, every time we walked past one, they were on a break. Kinda like the writers on strike in LA. So we ended up seeing them take pictures with tourists. One woman (what is it with Americans?!) pratically humped a dancer's leg. No shame. In other news, we intended to buy all of our gifts while at the market, but much of it was kinda cheap and cheesy. It's not that I have friends who are above cheap and cheesy, mind you... I just didn't want to cart shit around. I saw a cool papier mache mobile I liked for Devin (her bday is the day after mine), but that's just too high maintenance to pack.

At 12:30 we went to the French restaurant and were greeted by the (very) French owner who first made fun of my Spanish, and then when I switched to French, made fun of that too. Turns out, he's an ex-New Yorker who left a few years ago, fed up with Bush, Francophobes, and America's terror campaign. We didn't catch his name, but you can't miss him if you end up at Le Brasserie Petanque. You'll know him because he drops the word "motherf*%ker" at every table he greets, but in the most charming of ways. Really. And he gives you a free drink when you walk in the door. How do you beat that? Anyway, my heart melted when a group of Americans sat down next to us and tried to speak Spanish to me. Evidently they mistook me for Argentinian. Aww shucks.

Well, we ate and left San Telmo, then headed over to Congreso and Micro Centro. Not much law makin' or finance happens on Sundays, so we headed towards Florida street. Think of your least favorite mall stores. Now put them outdoors in the middle of a business district. Voila! Florida street. But because Hav and I planned a run later and I didn't bring running shoes, I patronized said street for a pair of borderline these-could-be-cute-or-hideously-wrong Adidas.

BA has many great, vast, and centrally located parks. Being summer, the parks were packed. Hav and I dodged locals as we ran first around the perimeter of the zoo, then switched to Plaza Italia and continued our trek. We ran, then finished off with frisbee, and I put a cherry on it all by twisting my ankle at the end. Two days later and still store.

We got home, showered, and headed out for sushi. Thirty minutes later in the wrong shoes, we found our restaurant. CLOSED. Naturally this sort of thing only happens when you're hungry enough to consider crime. We settled, and by 'we' I mean 'I', on a parilla (across the street from La Dorita but NOT La Dorita, as I had to hear about for the rest of the trip). The place was eh, but I did have a good glass of wine (Santa Julia Malbec) or five, and really good potato chips.

Neither by intention nor extraordinary conversation, our dinner lasted three hours. Finally we got our check and walked to Freddo for my birthday dessert. I don't eat dessert save birthdays or a major holiday (i.e. Xmas, Thanksgiving, Arbor Day...) so I had a free pass. Freddo, those bastards, let us in the door but wouldn't serve us -- something about it being too late though it was only midnight (early by BA standards) and people who walked in after us were served. I hope they choked on their - my - ice cream. We left and went elsewhere.

This is what happens when two people-pleasers travel together and neither speak the language: you both try to please the other and neither ends up happy. We ended up at an ice cream shop where we couldn't figure out how to order. You had to first choose your size, where 'size' are diagrams of unrecognizable shapes; second, pay; third, give the receipt to the scooper who asks you what you want. You can see how that process might require advanced Spanish. Turns out we ended up paying for three scoops of ice cream, but were confused by the whole thing and ended up asking for only two which in turn confused the scooper. And to cement the fact that we didn't know what THE HELL we were doing, both of our scoops were different banana flavors. We left disappointed and went home.