Saturday, November 14, 2009

¿El gringo puedo jugar?

If we continue our current pace, we just might learn something about this country before we leave. In two days of bonafide exploration, we have tackled the two main destination barrios Palermo and Recoleta (River Plate) and yesterday San Telmo and La Boca (Boca Juniors).

Yesterday began around noon with a stroll down Ave. de Mayo. On the western end of de Mayo is the Congreso Nacional - while the eastern portion (to the river) is the¨"Pink House" (the Argentine "White House") as well as the national bank, internal revenue, department of the interior, and various other administrative buildings all situated around the Plaza Mayo. Our aim was beyond this district, but I would very much like to go back next week and thoroughly investigate the monuments/history.

Eventually, we arrived in San Telmo, a barrio that is as tourist oriented as Palermo and Recoleta are commercial. However, I will take a slow evening in the plaza sipping cafe con leche while watching people tango over dozens of city blocks with nothing but shoe stores!

We stayed for a while in the plaza enjoying our coffee and empenadas (which our waiter rightfully thought bizarre). From there we wandered through some antique markets (much like indoor markets in the States) - then made our way through Parque Lezama towards La Boca.

The Boca Juniors firm is known to be heavily proletariat. This is evident in the blocks surrounding the stadium where trash and crumbling concrete are most prevalent. The Boca stadium itself is pretty impressive - though could not see the grounds without the tour.

A few blocks from the stadium is an¨outdoor museum where you could sit and watch tango. A tourist trap - no doubt. However, on the next block were over twenty boys and young men playing soccer on a fenced in concrete field about the size of a basketball court.

We stood there for a while watching them..and the longer I stared the more I knew I would not be able to leave without having played. So, I did. "¿El gringo puedo jugar?" - then they stared at me and talked to eachother and then looked back at me and motioned for me to come.
My first few touches were disappointing. One in particular was rather comical and the boys confirmed by laughing and pointing. Fortunately, my next touch was much better and I ended up Cruyffing one of the kids to complete a quality sequence - there were definitely smiles and some ribbing of the kid I had beat.
It didn´t take long for my lungs to start burning. The air here, is on the tolerable side of horrible. Fortunately, again, the soccer gods were smiling upon me this day. Just as I was contemplating calling it quits, a rebound fell just into my path, bounced and descended at what would be the perfect height for a volley - in an instance I had lined it up and let fly with my left, making perfect contact on the laces for an unstoppable shot a foot inside the pipe.
I promptly thanked everyone and left before I had a chance to ruin my moment of glory. Kaitlin took a pretty awesome picture, but access to a USB port to upload the photos has been a task we are yet to dispatch.

Shortly after my immaculate volley - the heavens opened up yet again, but this time instead of sending down the perfect ball - it sent buckets of rain. So, we grabbed a table at one of the tango cafes and watched the dance while sharing a beer and continuing our discourse on Dutch and American culture.

We then took the 64 bus back to Ave. de Nueva Julio where we showered and prepared for the remainder of the night. Last mention in this entry, before I get to the rest of our experiences, is that there is a buffet across the street that charges 19 pesos for a spread that far and away is the best all around buffet I have ever seen. Fresh veggies and choice cuts of beef and sausage...unbelievable value.

..must run for now. Mikk and I have to get up to Palermo to buy tickets for the River Plate match today. We have put it out there that we are going and ten people (five aussies, two swedes, and three brits) have given us thirty pesos each to get their tickets.

Might have time later today to get to our amazing experience with the acoustic show two nights ago and the tango/folkdance experience last night. For now...

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