Monday, February 15, 2010

Lazy Weekend

My friends came back to Buenos Aires on Saturday morning, and since they had taken a night bus from Mendoza, they took a nap once they were settled back in the apartment. This meant that we really didn’t get a start on the day until 2 or 3 o’clock. There wasn’t much of a need to rush because they had already seen a good amount of touristic sites, and we all agreed that after going food shopping we would sit in the park and drink some mate.

It wasn’t a very hot day and the park was pretty empty, but we sat by the pond and passed around the tea a few rounds. I’m happy to say that they’re big fans of the drink and might take it back with them. Just lazing around, we finally decided to head up to Belgrano and check out the small Chinatown. I’d never been there but kept hearing it was interesting, and that street food was good there.

Though it’s not a big deal for tourists, we had the time to kill and made the trip up to Belgrano. I’d never really been around the neighborhood, but once we got there I could tell it felt nice. To me, it had a Brookline or Brighton, Massachusetts feel to it. Still in the city, but with a different character and more residential. We moseyed over to the gate and joined the crowd of people walking into cheap thrift stores and Chinese restaurants.

“Chinos,” or supermarkets run by Chinese families, lined the block, packed with young people doing their shopping. I wanted some street food and though I couldn’t find the dumplings, got some fried chicken on a stick. It was a bit pricey at $7 pesos, but it was delicious. The chicken had some brown sauce on it that gave it a sort of kick, and after I finished it I couldn’t stop talking about how good it was.

The girls bought some beers and we sat in a park talking for a while as the sun set. To our left, a gazebo was filling up with elderly tango dancers. We went over and saw that it was just a local get together, which apparently happens frequently. Anyone can just go up and ask someone to dance, and the traditional music from the 40s blasted into the early night. We stood watching for 15 minutes and then headed home, glad that we’d come to a bit of a random spot.

Yesterday was a cool and sunny day, so again taking out time, we went down to Puerto Madero and the Ecological Reserve. I insisted that we get choripan, a sausage sandwich, at one of the many grilling stations by the swamp. The girls got one too, and we sat on the shaky white tables while cumbia music blasted from the stand. It was crowded but peaceful, with most of the people drinking mate with family or friends. Once the choripan was gone, we walked around the reserve; sitting by the edge of the river and watching the waves roll in, we sat in silence for a while.

To have the luxury of traveling in a place long enough gives you the ability to take it easy and really get a feel for where you are, and I’m glad the girls have been here long enough to see it like this. It was a lazy, but worthwhile weekend in Buenos Aires.

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