Well this week our family have gotten to know the quirkier side of Buenos Aires a little more. If you haven’t met the family yet check out Meet the Family. Every city in the world has a few things that you question, when you think to yourself it’s not like this back home. That’s half the fun of travelling I think. I remember having to line up 3 times for the one order at Burger King in Vietnam (they might have been trying to give me a hint). One of for actual order, one to make payment and one to collect your food.
What’s the buzz in BA?
- We headed out to Parque Norte (won’t do you much good clicking on that link unless you speak Spanish). It’s a huge outdoor pool complex in the city with party music pumping and over a thousand people. Think of your local public pool. It’s nothing like that. We paid our admission at the front gate (about $12AUD) and walked to the pool entrance but were stopped, sent away and given directions in Spanish. Have I mentioned that they don’t speak a lot of English here and at present my Spanish is about as useless as undies in a porno. It is improving though! We went back for a second attempt and got directed in semi-English to a special room for a medical examination. So we had to go to a room and shower, then line up at a makeshift clinic with little cubicles. We walked up to the examiner and had to put our feet on a stool and one by one open up the gap between our toes. I called this the jam inspection. To be honest the last time my toes had a decent clean was 2012, so I was more nervous than an Amish Virgin. Imagine getting denied entry due to toe jam. Luckily I passed the first step, then it was a check of my underarms. I got the all clear. I was now allowed in the pool. Surprisingly Ez passed as well. Once inside the pool complex I got my first taste of the South American swimming costume. Well, to clarify, I didn’t actually taste it but there were a lot of swimmers eating booty on display. Piper asked if she could get swimmers like that. I said definitely…when she was 75. The music, the swimwear and the volume of people – it was like an MTV Spring Break special, just without alcohol.
- Money. Access to cash is still a lottery. Over recent weeks the Bank rate and the ‘black market’ Blue Dollar have been around parity. I’ve needed to change money in banks but you can only do that in the Banco National. HSBC, Citibank, Rio Santander, Patagonia banks all cannot do it. Ok I thought, I organised to get up to the local bank just before opening time (10am). There was a line 30 deep of portenos (BA locals) with an average age of 69 and estimated time of 1 ½ hours. I gave up quicker than Lay Down Sally and got prepared for the next day. I was there at 930am and number 11 in line. Once inside a security guard helps you take a ticket for the service you need. After my broken explanation he pointed to a corner and said he would help (I think that’s he said). Five minutes later he came over and asked how much I wanted to exchange. I said $1000USD. He walks through a back door and comes back 5 mins later with a very large wad of pesos. Gives them to me to count and then I give him the USD. No paperwork, no talk of exchange rates (14:1), like a dodgy back alley drug deal in a bank. He gave me a pat on the back and I was on my way.
- Buenos Aires Market combined with the horse racing at the Palermo Hipodromo. This was a food truck/wine truck/beer truck night market at the horse races. Fantastic. It combined hipster food with a bet on the Caballos (that’s horses for you non Spanish speakers). There were more hipsters than a craft beer bar selling $29 beers. More beards than a female nursing home. This could be a great combo back home (the markets, not the beards). Friday night after work hit the track for some great food, drinks, music and a flutter on the horses if you so desire. Did I mention it was complimentary, that means for free. For those wondering, having a punt was a challenge and I blame this for not backing any winners.
- Power. Well the power in our apartment has been out for 2 days now. That’s no lights, fridge, stove and heaven forbid Wi-Fi. I’m used to a blackout for 15 minutes! It doesn’t seem a major problem. Teeth brushing, bathing and book reading by mobile phone lights. The fridge and stove are the main pain points. We can’t complain too much (as we don’t really know how to say those words) so we’re just getting on with things. The girls actually think it’s quite cool, just another part of our adventure. I haven’t actually been able to find Ez for two days. Kidding…sort of. (*Late addition. This post was meant to go up a day ago but we just had a another blackout – the whole block. People lit fires in the main street, not to keep warm, as a message to authorities to get it fixed!)
- Spanish. The language. I’m still at the stage where if I’m unsure I put an el before the word or add an e or an o at the end and I feel pretty safe. This nearly brought me undone a couple nights back. We were at a restaurant and Piper had made a little friend, who joined our table to do some drawing. We needed another pen. I was just about to ask for uno pene por favour (I thought was one pen please). I decided a last minute check of the phrase book to make sure. Lucky I did as I was just about to ask for one penis please! Since then, I have been trying to teach Ez this phrase.
As far as Piper and Evie, go they have been loving Buenos Aires. Just out and about on our everyday adventures, coming home for swims in the pool and then eating out most nights. With plenty of the local icecream along the way.
A couple comments from them this week.
Day 2 – Piper: How are we getting there?
Piper: I’m so excited I love the bus!
Day 6 – Piper: How are we getting there?
Piper – Oh, why do we always have to catch the bus? I’m bored of the bus! Oh if I must! (p.s. bus travel is 30c per adults, kids are free!)
Evie: I want my watch, where’s my watch?
Mum: It’s at Nonna’s house.
Evie: Let’s go to Nonna’s house now to get my watch. (not entirely sure of Evie’s comprehension of distance)
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on the Boca Juniors experience and my tips and tricks for travelling with kids (I know it’s only been 2 weeks!)