Artisans, shopping and more tango
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
Christmas was well spent relaxing and observing locals. The travellers at the hostel were preparing a feast for Christmas Eve. One young man from Italy seemed to be in charge of steaming pots of tomatoes, capsicum, garlic and onion whilst others chopped and peeled under his direction. Traditionally in Australia we have our celebratory dinner sometime on Christmas Day so we were saving our feast for then. Locals do not start eating during the evening until 9pm but we suddenly noticed that all of the usual bars and restaurants were closing early so the staff could to go home and celebrate with their families. We found some food, then found the square at San Telmo where a few bars and coffee shops were open.
I noticed a young man at the table next to us who had checked in at the hostel earlier that night and introuced ourselves. He was from Peru and an artisan of jewelery using South American semi-precious stones and silver wire. Yevon had not been home to Peru in 6 years and told us he was 21years old. We stayed until midnight when the sporadic fireworks became plentiful! Yevon told us in sign language that he would like to come sightseeing with us tomorrow. Or at least I thought he did. Turned out that he wanted to show me his crafts with a view to selling me some!
Christmas Day was a delight with very few cars and even fewer buses on the streets. Families strolled and we went back to the square at San Telmo where the Sunday Markets are famous. Yes, on Christmas Day they were full on. Artisans of jewelery, leather goods, mate pots, bombillas (the drinking stick for the mate) of all kinds were displayed. Antiques, antique silver and paintings and of course Tango. In several areas a couple would have their amplified music and in full night club tango clothes and shoes, showcase their dance. The sun beat down steadily and several stops at cafes were needed to rehydrate. At one we ordered a marinated egg plant entre, a large pizza and a bottle of wine then saw Yevon wandering. We invited him to share and bought him a beer as he had told me that he didn't like wine the night before.
Monday was Boxing Day but it is not a public holiday it seems. We took the underground 80 centimes ( about 40 cents Aus and the ticket can be used all day) to Recoleta. We walked along the 'widest street in the world' and headed into a shopping area. Not being a practiced shopper I found it mind blowing. There appeared to be huge malls with domed celings painted with frescos. Designer named shops lined the Malls, exclusive small malls and pedestrian streets. Leather shops with spruickers pleading with you to come in and see their factories at the back. Cashmere and alpaca. We looked at the prices and they were amazingly cheap! We found the cemetery at Recoleta also and wandered around the crypts. By following some people striding purposefully we came across Eva Peron´s crypt. Many people were squeezing down the narrow passageway to stand beside the resting place of this much loved woman.
I took my stopped watch into a camera and watch store and asked for the battery to be tested. In Spanish! The guy told me it needed a new one and it was 8 pesos, in Spanish and I understood him! I have no second language other than a smattering of schoolgirl french. My phrase book is my best street companion next to my husband and I am determined to learn some Spanish conversation before we finish this trip. Yevon and I have long conversations with him speaking in Spanish and me in English and we mostly understand although it takes patience. Tonight we are catching a bus to Iguazu Falls. It is a 16 hour trip but the coaches are modern and I think the seats recline quite a long way. We are leaving our bags at the hostel and just taking small backpacks .
Well, that plan changed a little! I failed to check our tickets carefully and had it in my head that we left at 10.10pm last night for Iguazu Falls. No, it was 20.10 hours which should have been 8.10 pm. We had been at this huge bus interchange since 6pm but didn't look for our bus until long after it had left. Fortunately the bus company's office was still open at 10 pm and they took pity on me and re-booked us on tonight's bus without extra charge. Because New Year lands in the middle of our tour, there are fewer return buses so we will have two nights in Puerto Iguazu now and return on New Year's day arriving back in BA in the early morning of the 2nd January! Lucky we had our room at San Telmo hostel paid for until 2nd January so we had a bed at least when we arrived back around 11.30pm.
Just to punish us a little perhaps, something made us itchy through the night though we couldn't find bites in the morning!