Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Sunday walk: Abasto and Palermo Viejo

The following was written on Sunday: the internet was out for several days, and I've uploaded bits in the wrong order. I finally plucked up courage and stuck a pin in the small orifice in the back of the modem: all the lights flashed on, then subsided, then, slowly, the Data Send/Receive lights started to flicker again. Relief. Contacting a computer helpline in Spanish didn't seem to be an option.

That was Friday night: I arrived Monday afternoon and everything so far was between Wednesday and Friday. So perhaps a day of rest was called for, and the weather enforced it. Saturday was cloudburst day: it poured, it thundered, it lightninged. It eased off towards evening and I thought of going out, but as soon as I started getting ready it poured again, so that was that.

Sunday dawned cool and fresh so I took off for a walk across town from Abasto to Palermo. The Abasto end: an art deco building originally the city's market and now a shopping Mall. A bit like the Galleria Pacifico downtown, the Abasto Mall is all upmarket shops, clothes, perfumes, expensive luxury stuff, boring. & you can't see the building for the shops. So I took off across the streets towards Palermo, or so I thought. After about 10 minutes I checked the map and realised I was going in quite the wrong direction. I puzzles me how often I've taken wrong directions here as my sense of direction is usually pretty good. One reason might be that city maps show the Rio Plate at the bottom of the map, which one assumes is south, whereas the Rio Plate is of course north of the city. Another might be that this is the southern hemisphere and I believe that means the sun travels north to midday, rather than south. Of course, in the narrow grid of downtown streets, currently 'mi barrio', the buildings are high, and the sun is far away. Anyway it's been cloudy a lot of the time, and I never seem to know which way I'm going.

So I retraced my steps and, now going in the right direction, treated myself to a 'cortado' in a pastisserie/coffee shop that looked clean and inviting. A cortado, (as in 'ocho cortado') is a coffee with a cut of milk, and I was offered a slice of panettone with it, with a friendly smile. I could hardly refuse, and noticed it wasn't in the bill. So that was A$5, £1, for coffee and cake. This city seems sympathetic and welcoming to visitors: but I guess arrival here is recent in most people's family memories. Yes, I tried to pay for the cake with a good tip.

It's a pleasant walk between Abasto and Palermo Viejo. The streets are wide and tree-lined, the side streets still cobbled, and it was a quiet Sunday morning after the rain, fresh and clear. I finally came out at Scalabrini Ortiz, one of the city's wide avenues, where I wanted to locate Canning as I plan to go to the milonga there tomorrow night, and try to think about how to get back. It's hardly walking distance.

Don't imagine BsAs oozes tango thru' every pore. Unless you're passing a tango CD store, or your taxi driver has unusual tastes, it's r&r and latin you'll hear, like anywhere else. In the taxi back from Canning: “She was just 17, you know what I mean, YOOO, I'll never dance with another...” Long time since I last heard that (fortunately).

After trees and wide streets, back in the downtown canyon. Still no internet: it seems to give up when it rains. Perhaps that's a downside of all that cabling between buildings.

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