Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bike Tour on the Day Off

Today was a holiday in Argentina, and though I'm not exactly sure what it was for, I think it had something to do with the Virgin or something or other. I'm not complaining, as it was the perfect way to break up the week and make up for not getting Thanksgiving off while everyone in the States was enjoying themselves. To make things better, the weather was perfect today.

If you recall any mention at all through Twitter, I was supposed to go on a Bike Tour on Saturday afternoon, but the event was washed out. I was instead placed on 9:30 am tour this morning. I wasn't crazy about the idea of waking up at the same time as usual for work on my day off, but at least I was doing something active and worthwhile, rather than sleeping in and doing nothing interesting.

To kick things off last night, I went with my friend Clint and his girlfriend to La Bomba de Tiempo, which is a pretty popular drum circle in Abasto every Monday night. I'd gone to this earlier in October when it was some kind of special event on a Saturday, going into the wee hours of the morning. I wasn't that impressed with it then, and my thoughts on it were only solidified last night.

Maybe it's because I'd rather hear other instruments instead of only drums and bongos, but it just seems like most of the people there are phonies. It seems like it should be something cool to do, which explains why I heard more English from tourists rather than Spanish from locals. But I get the feeling you have to be on some drugs or really drunk to enjoy it. Not drinking all all in preparation for the GRE on Saturday, I was hardly impressed, and once the crowd started a mosh pit, we decided it was time to step outside for some air.

We spent the rest of the time outside, and once the show was over went home. I woke up to clear blue skies, and though it was a bit chilly, finally got outside in just a t-shirt and shorts. The other tourists met up at the statue in Plaza San Martín, and once everything was figured out, our small group split off for the "Different Buenos Aires" tour. With two Brazilians, a German woman, and our guide Javier, we went through the other sights of Buenos Aires that I mostly knew well by now.

Our first stop was down through Puerto Madero, where the early hours of a holiday left us with nearly free reign through the port. I was familiar with the area, but it was still interesting to hear some of the stories behind it. We moved on to the Ecological Reserve, where I had yet to explore. It was pretty unimpressive if you've been to some beautiful places in the world. It's basically just a loop around a swamp that is good for biking or running. As the afternoon was pushing on, it was basically shirtless old man running slowly heaven. Though it wasn't the nicest place I've ever been, I can definitely see how it's a welcome relief after seeing nothing but concrete in the city center for a few months.

We continued on through La Boca, and I got to see other parts of the neighborhood where I spent my first month in this city. Again, though people talk about how dangerous La Boca is, compared to other places I've been in the world, it's not that scary, especially during daylight hours. We stopped at El Caminito for 20 minutes and I sat with the Brazilians as they had a drink. It was an odd conversation, in an itinerant mix of Portuguese, Spanish, and English. The boyfriend would say something in Portuguese and I'd either kind of understand or not, and his girlfriend would then translate in limited but well spoken English. Then I'd reply in Spanish and they'd both understand, or we'd go to English for a moment. It had no rhyme or rhythm.

Back on the bikes we quickly zoomed through San Telmo and up to the Microcentro, back to Plaza San Martín where we'd started. It was now 1:30 pm, and though it was hotter, it was still perfect temperature with low humidity, a rarity here. I went home to make a sandwich, and took a draining nap for about an hour. Once back on my feet, I headed up to Palermo to read and study in a park for a bit. The day was still going strong, and the area was filled with families on picnics.

Though the scene made me miss my time with friends and family, it was still a good day off and a pretty comprehensive day, covering many parts of the city. That beats a day at the office.

Above: Ecological Reserve, La Bombonera, Puente de la Mujer

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