Monday, March 16, 2009

Blog Number 13: More life in BA and La Boca

March 9 – 11

It’s Monday and David has his 1st class at Lenguas Vivas Institute. Oh…did I mention that, in addition to the private tutoring he’s getting once a week, he signed up at a local university to take pre-intermediate Spanish classes 4 days a week (Mon-Thurs). Then, of course, he has homework each day. When David decides to do something, it’s an all or nothing proposition.

When he returns from class, he’s wired from speaking and listening to Spanish non-stop for 2 hours. Lucky for me, he relaxes when Kevin and Rick come for dinner.

Tuesday we get up early and go to the park, where David studies and I sketch.

He goes to class and after, we head back to the park, sit and people-watch. Five o’clock is a perfect time – the playground is packed with little kids, as is frequently the case around now. We enjoy watching them, as they are very cute. One of our friends describes them as ants…they’re all over the place.

We go to the Hard Rock Café, of all places, for dinner – not a typical dinner destination for us, but David announces he needs a Mexican food fix. According to friends they have the best fajitas in the city. We get there at 9:00, eat but don’t linger, since the music is blasting and it’s too loud for us old folks. On our way home, we stop at Volta for some of the best ice cream in the city. Have I mentioned how good the ice cream is here?

On Wednesday, Diego comes over to tutor David and I go to friend Jim’s apartment. We hang out, drink coffee and eat factoras (pastries). In the afternoon, David goes to Spanish class and I go to paint. We meet around 8:00 and go to dinner at 9:00. Seems we’ve found a rhythm that works.

March 12 – 15

Thursday morning, after coffee, we stop in front of a store to admire a window display. We hear a couple, also looking at the display, speaking English. Turns out they (Matina and Steve) are New Yorkers here in BA on holiday. We spend an hour talking and decide to do lunch together on Sunday. Nice!!

We go to Julie and Bob’s apartment around 6:00 and spend the next few hours in their backyard garden drinking and eating. They are leaving for their home in CA next week and we’ll miss spending time with them.

Friday is a day of rest…and good thing, because we plan to spend Saturday on the go. I know some of you have marveled at how we seem to be eating all the time. And you are correct…so we have decided to join a gym (we probably should be joining overeaters anonymous too!).

We meet Yamil, who will be our personal trainer for the next 4 weeks, and after discussing our needs (and his fee) we decide to start working out with him on Monday. On the way back from the gym we decide to check out a great hidden restaurant that Julie suggested. It's in a beautiful old world style building that we are told at one point was the German Embassy.

On Saturday we catch a bus to La Boca. Divided from the suburbs of BA by the “toxic” waters of the Riachuelo river, this working-class barrio was, until the late 19th century, the entry point to the city for goods and immigrants; hence the name La Boca – literally “the mouth”.

As far as I can tell, this barrio is known for 2 things…their soccer team, the Boca Juniors,

and the Caminito; i.e. the “little walkway” lined with brightly colored corrugated zinc shacks.

Why all the colors, you might ask? Everything I read talks about how, in the early 1900s when the shacks were constructed, they needed frequent painting. The locals would ask the crews of ships that came into port to give them left-over paint. Because each local then took a small quantity, walls might be painted yellow, roofs green, and shutters red.

While this has become a very touristy area, it was fun to walk around for a few hours. It’s sort of like a tango-themed amusement park. Lots of cafes with mini stages set up for bands;

Tango dancers....

Check out the tango video below:

Tango chicas…

Tango art…

and the occasional "Argentinian folklore" dancers (video below):

There are murals, oil paintings, mosaics and reliefs all over, and many have a nautical theme.

Then there is the “fileteado”, a popular style of ornamental painting that appears on signs and storefronts.

David has a great time with his camera!

Back in our neighborhood, we walk over to the park where we catch up with Rick. And, just as we are leaving, we notice bunches of kids congregating around a box about the size of a refrigerator draped in navy blue velvet.

Turns out it’s there for a puppet show…very cute.

We decide to have dinner in, so we stop at Quiero Mas, the fresh pasta store around the corner from our apartment.

You choose the pasta

and sauce you want,

and of course the "must have" empanada....

they heat it all up and voila – instant dinner!

Sunday morning and the time has changed…spring ahead / fall back. Fall is just around the corner…you can feel it in the air. Though we still have an occasional scorcher (yesterday I took 3 showers, it was so hot!), days are definitely starting to cool off ever so slightly, and they are often less humid. We are now just one hour ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

We meet Matina and Steve for a leisurely lunch at Lola and eat al fresco. After lunch, we say good-bye, as they are flying back to NYC tonight. Too bad they won’t be here longer…we have a really nice time with them.


  1. Maybe instead of the gym...take Tango Lessons....looks quite "energetic." BTW...who were the nice looking ladies David was

  2. I agree - time to give up the gym, the Spanish and painting lessons, and take up tango and flamenco lessons. It would definitely take care of all those meals you've been eating. We want to see a video of the two of you dancing. Annette

  3. Sorry to disappoint you all but tango is not in the cards for this year.