Sunday begins with light showers. Early summer weather here is changeable: it gets too hot, it rains, it's cool, then it heats up again. The city is actually on the estuary, but the nearby ocean keeps the air fresh despite city pollution. Three main species of birds: believe it or not, pigeons, sparrows and swifts, a larger and noisier species than those in London, but they look much the same bird. Pigeons and sparrows could well have arrived by boat: perhaps the swifts are native.
This city has (almost) everything, including a nature reserve 15 minutes walk from downtown, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur, on partly-reclaimed riverside land. A complete walk around it, taking in the banks of the Rio Plate and three or four lagoons, takes several hours, and apparently there are around 200 species of birds to look out for and listen to. I also glimpsed the arse of a coypu, scuttling into the foliage, but that's nothing more exotic than a large rat. A wonderfully refreshing walk, a fresh breeze, foliage and birdsong. I'll try and insert some birdsong here later.
Just as I left for the walk an email arrived insisting I should visit the Plaza Dorrego and Defensa antiques market (thanks again, Francesca!) so I rejoined the city in San Telmo, the old quarter, with its little houses and the cobbled streets with old railway lines running along them, the Buenos Aires of tango myth. I've been meaning to visit for weeks.
Un arrabal con casas
que reflejan su dolor de lata...
Un arrabal humano
con leyendas que se cantan como tangos...
Y allá un reloj que lejos da
las dos de la mañana...
Un arrabal obrero,
una esquina de recuerdos y un farol...
Farol Homero Exposito, 1943.
The antiques market is friendly and full of fascinating stuff, and of course I made some photos. Bought an enameled house number plate: 58 for my address. Leaving the market, I came across an orquesta tipica of young people busking, music students I guess, playing good tango, in the street, unplugged. I'll be back and video them some more: and they have a CD too.
Then up Defensa to the Plaza de Mayo, the city centre, and thence back home. Home. It was hard at first but I'm really beginning to feel too much at home here.
Sunday evening at Porteno y Bailarin, as usual. An excellent milonga class from Gabriela Elias and Eduardo Perez. It was a really well-structured class and got me dancing milonga and enjoying it, which doesn't always happen. They're a really friendly couple and he speaks enough English. There has been an English couple or two in most classes I've been to, and most teachers try to speak a bit of English, although I can usually get the gist of the Castellano if I listen carefully. Otherwise it was a very strange quiet night and I left early. Carlos Stasi, who organises the milonga, saw me leaving, and we talked. His daughter is in London so I asked if she danced tango: maybe I'd met her. “No, she's a ballet dancer. She hates tango!” The mixture of pride and disappointment was almost comic. “I tell her: when you are 30 – she's 28 – you must think again!” &, as before: “You didn't come to my class Monday night. You must come. Milonguero style, no?” So I promise I will.