Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BAck in BA

I've seemed to have let a lot of things not come to fruition, such as my trip to Rosario, or Colón, or Parque Nacional El Palmar. As you all so dearly know now, I can be indecisive and quick to switch gears. I am Chaotic Neutral in personality (if you understand, we should play D&D). I've so far found plenty of things to keep me in B.A./BsAs/Buenos Aires these past few days, and I could easily stay here indefinitely. This city is so incredibly excellent, I would live here, if I could find work or some large supply of British Pounds. Who knows, maybe I'll hold up a bank?
     Anyway, I have gone out every single night so far for live music ventures. My two top picks for live music have been Sanata Bar, reached by the Subte Linea B to Carlos Gardel stop-off. Usually the music there doesn't commence until 12 or 12:30 in the a.m., which is fine, since people start shuffling in at about 11:30, filling the bar and eventually overflowing out into the streets. This bar is where I first came to see live tango music, the first few days into my journey. I don't remember if I mentioned this place, but it is definitely a great spot to hear bands every night. The other place is Peña del Colorado, owned by Claudia, whom I met that first night I went to Sanata Bar about a month ago. She has put on great acts almost every night at this brick and stucco, cozy-feeling restaurant. Also, the food is spectacular, with many native dishes of Northwest Argentina, such as locro (a stew with corn, tripe, vegetables, spice, and awesome), or a dessert with a super unusual, bouncy and delicious texture, called ambrosia.  They also have the typical parrilla beef fare, such as morcilla, bife de lomo, and various mouth-watering cuts of meat. Oh yeah, did I mention the music is usually of the folklóre variety? This includes rhythmically interesting genres such as chacarera, gato, zamba, escondido, and a few others. These originate from Northern Argentina as well, which means, for my next trip to AR, I will be exploring the North.
     During the day, I wandered down to the port at Puerto Madero, with several large brick buildings and cranes that have probably been there since the late 1800's/early 1900´s, when Buenos Aires was extraordinarily booming. I had myself an ice cream cone, with the excellent flavors of dulce de leche (in some exotic variety), and chocolate suiso (Swiss). I stopped into a tall ship/floating museum, named Uruguay-something. It was a scientific research vessel that frequented Antarctica in the late 1800´s! A bunch of original stuff was on display, rotting and rusting away into the infinitessimal reaches of time. I hope I spelled that right. There was even a super rusted revolver, which is pretty metal. Literally.
     I wandered into the next tall ship, the 80-meter-long Fragata Sarmiento. It served as the Argentine navy´s flagship, and sailed at least 40 times around the world, between 1898 (I think) and the 1930's. It was also used to train navy cadets, thousands of whom passed through the halls over 100 years ago. The inside stank of some weird odor, and there was the ship's mascot dog, lying peacefully within a glass case, stuffed into a relaxed pose. There were extensive details about each of the frigate's journeys, and some interesting ancient photographs accompanying the posters.
     The day prior to this (Sunday), I headed out to Recoleta for the first time, to visit the weekend feria artenesal , but since it was raining pretty harshly, I guess a lot of the stands had packed up, so I decided it was not worth the trouble to meander through the rain here. I instead taxi'ed my way Northwest to the local zoo, Jardín Zoológico. Walking through the gate, you immediately come across several species of duck or mallard-type birds, waddling around in their usual awkward fashion. They are next to these marsupial-type, rabbit-like creatures, who are only hanging around for the food. And next to those animals was a weird semi-aquatic rodent, which normally should be in a cage, but was consuming the fresh, water strewn grass, only within a foot of me. I held out my hand, and it came up to me, with it's huge outside teeth a reddish hue. Totally friendly, but this put a hop in my step to see the other zoo creatures. As usual, there were snakes, including the deadly pit viper I may have encountered had I gone to Colón, named the yayará. These were all in small glass cages, as usual, and I again felt bad for them. Next were the bears, the polar bear sitting in the rain, bored as hell, and the other bear which I knew not the name of, was circling round his territory. Then came the large cats, such as the puma, Siberian tiger, and eventually my favorite, the jaguar. I stared into its pair of green eyes, and it stared back with such an evil stare that only carnivores can show. I literally got the chills a few times. I came across the carpincho, or capybara, the world's largest rodent, and I wanted to much to kill one right there and skin it. The leather made from its hide is not only exclusively Argentine, but is incredibly expensive. Instead of spending excess amounts on a carpincho jacket, I could hack one out myself, if I can kill enough capybaras. I think one person said you need about 40 or 50 hides. Well, for my next trip to the North, where they live, I will be sure to come prepared. They're so cute and cuddly, and are apparently very delicious, being eaten more in the North. I can't wait.
     Aside from this, there were the usual alpacas, African deer, elephants, a llama, ostrich, yaks, and quite a scary collection of Amazon insects and arachnids. Some of those spiders are so big and skinny that it would absolutely cause me a heart attack seeing one alive in the wild, or even worse, on me. There were a couple MASSIVE stick insects, one being thicker than a thick drumstick, with wings that look just like leaves. There were beetles, tons of butterflies, and various little critters, all of which I would have the pleasure of stepping on if I ventured into the jungle. Maybe some day.
     Just today I visited the Centro del Cuero, a large collection of leather stores and warehouses that are just jam-packed with all things leather, stretched across three city blocks. I started at about 1pm, and finally got done with my browsing and trying at about 6:30! I would walk out of one store filled with jackets, only to immediately enter the next one a door down to see even more leather jackets. There were handmade shoes (of excellent quality, to boot), gloves (of which a pair I bought, lined with abejo, or sheep fur), wallets by the dozen, belts of every size and design (one store had excellently designed carpincho leather belts), leather jackets and blazers and duster coats, some fur clothing, and various handmade trinkets and purses in cow leather. I was seriously overleathered from all the shopping, and I only visited 20 stores, on ONE side of the 3 blocks. I think I am gonna buy a jacket for only 430 pesos (something like US $120), but it is of becerro (baby calf leather), and henceforth is super sexy on Drew, and super cheap compared to America or (gag) Europe. I also bought a really cool and unusual fur belt, that looks more like a tarantuala leg than a belt.

ANYWAY, plans for tomorrow: I am gonna take a day and a half trip, 20km North of BsAs to Tigre, with that Irish dude Graeme whom I went out and partied my first night here. Tigre is a town right on the outskirts of the Paraná Delta, a subtropical, Amazon-like tribuatry filled with lush grasses, trees, and stilted houses, and mud brown rivers, of course. It would be equivalent to having the Everglades just outside of New York, or something to that effect. The place has been called the South American Venice. Cool, can't wait to kayak around, and this time I won't be alone! I have the benefit of staying at Graeme's apartment and leaving my stuff there, so I can save a few bucks.

Will write when I return to Buenos Aires, and post photos either later tonight or when I return as well, for the zoo and live music and tall ships and leather. All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

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