Sunday, September 2, 2012

Not such a crappy day

I almost forgot how difficult basic tasks are to complete in Argentina and how shoddy most products are. Since arriving, the word crappy has popped into my vocabulary as a commonly used adjective for everything from the sidewalks (crappy as in literal dog crap everywhere and holes that will swallow you alive), to a plastic water bottle that I bought and broke within 24 hours, to the service you get almost everywhere here. In the U.S., we take for granted efficiency, customer service and product quality.

Since the bank exchange rate hangs out around 4.5 (what you get if you use your ATM or credit cards), but you can exchange dollars to pesos on the "blue market" for about 6 or so, we try to pay for everything in cash and don't carry any plastic with us. We are fortunate to have U.S. accounts and are making U.S. dollars in this horrible Argentine economy. I will not forget that either.

We went grocery shopping on Friday with a lengthy list and 500 pesos in our pocket. As the cart kept filling up, I got concerned that the AR$500 wasn't going to cover it. And it didn't. And I didn't bring a credit card as a back up. And neither did Matthew. So we had to sort our basket at the cashier stand like a couple of college kids on an allowance, triaging the necessities. What a crappy situation.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned crappy plastic water bottle made the cut, and at the last moment, I triaged out the bottle of wine. (Yes, I know, crappy judgment on my part.)

I want to be clear. Not everything is crappy in Argentina. Empanadas from La Continental. Volta ice cream. (Well, ice cream from anywhere, really.) Dirt cheap wine that's actually really good. Alfajores. Many, many things are not crappy. Tango, of course, is on the top of the not crappy list.

We capped off our day with a traditional milonga at Lo de Celia. We went late, arriving around midnight, since we had an exhausting afternoon running errands all over town and napped until after 10. (That's p.m., not a.m.) 

We sat "juntos" (together) since we had good luck the night before at Canning, and I happily received cabeceos from several of the local milongueros. (It helped that the crowd was thin for a Friday night, and there happened to be more men than women, which is unusual.) 

Lo de Celia presented the characteristics I love most about the traditional Buenos Aires milongas. A friendly crowd and inviting hostess. (Celia came to our table to introduce herself.) Beautiful floor craft. Line of dance maintained even with open space on the floor. Connections made through close embrace. Positive energy.

Not at all a crappy night.

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