Iguazu falls – Argentinian and Brazilian sides.

Saying farewell to Buenos Aires, it was time to rejoin the Tucan tour group moving onto the Iguazu falls.

Iguazu (meaning Big Water) Falls consists of 275 waterfalls along the Iguazu river that connects Argentina and Brazil.

On the Argentinian side you are able to walk over the falls along walkways that provide up-close views of these thunderous curtains of water, and as I watched this flowing mixture of river browns and misty whites I knew I had the answer – This is where dulce de leche (caramel) comes from!

Ok, maybe not. But the colour and texture of the falls did look incredibly similar to perhaps what a caramel version of the waterfall in Charlie and the chocolate factory would be. And Argentina is the home of Dulce de leche..

The Brazilian side of the falls provide spectacular panoramic views that offer the full scope of how mammoth and powerfully raw these falls are. Up to 82 metres in height and 3kms in length of magnificent and majestic pounding water, with the novelty of beautiful rainbows and heavily sprayed mist that will have you drenched and exhilarated.

As with Jiuzhaigou national park and the panda’s in China, I felt a moment of privilege and gratitude to have been able to stand there with this awesome wonder of nature.

It made me so happy that if I had found a puddle of mud I would have rolled in it.

Personal highlights of Buenos Aires

Serrano st

Samba school
I was very proud to have learnt to samba! Well enough to at least join in with the slow, old and retired samba dancing crowd of Brasil.

If only the ashram in India could see just how unsuccessful they were in flushing out the meat and dairy eater in me..tsk tsk. The rumours around the world are true – the steak in Buenos Aires is simply irresistible to any carnivore.

Only in Buenos Aires will you see a young couple in love slowly and ever so tenderly start dancing the tango while waiting for the bus at the bus stop. It was so sweet and adorible that it actually induced feelings of nausea in me … show ponies..

The Nightlife
Between the food and the nightlife, I would have surely died a blissfully high and heavily cholesteroled death in Buenos Aires. Much respect to the talented DJs at Club Bahrain, especially for it’s Drum & Bass Tuesdays, and its dual electro and reggaeton saturday nights which satisfied both the needs of K and myself. (I can’t stand reggaeton, K can’t stand electro)

And most importantly, the People (Che!)
I’ve never met a friendlier bunch of people who were willing to share their thoughts, opinions, customs, country and their homes. Whether it was standing in line at a bar, waiting at the bus stop, finding like-minded music lovers at a club, or attending a pool competition and being welcomed into the pool circuit crowd. These people are coool!

Vic, my dear Argentine friend who took K and I on his infamous ‘undercover pub crawl’ once said ‘The air in Buenos Aires is so thick and humid you have to swim through it’, true in so many ways. There is a graceful movement to Buenos Aires, a current of heat and pleasurable indulgence that’s hard to resist and much easier and more enjoyable to just ‘float along’ with.

‘Buenos Aires is the gem of South America’ a statement made from several foreign and local acquaintances.

‘The gem’, .. perhaps. ‘A gem’, definitely! 🙂

The joys of living with K in Buenos Aires

During our stay in Buenos Aires, K and I went through the amazing Super Panchos, hot dogs at 4am in the mornings phase, followed by the ultra fatty ‘I’d give up an Argentinian bbq for this!’ deliciously cheesy pizza phase, before finally mastering the nachos phase becoming excellent Best Nachos in town critics. In addition to K, I was eating an average of 500 grams of yummy Bife de Chorizo a day. Life was good.

One lazy afternoon while enjoying watching cable TV in our apartment on Serrano St, K excuses himself to go to the bathroom and did not return for a whole Big Bang Theory episode. (45 minutes)

K eventually emerges from the bathroom.

T – ‘What happened to you?’

K, exhausted and sweaty – ‘The toilet wouldn’t flush! And I can’t fix it, so I’ve been using the garbage bin in the bathroom to throw water down the toilet for the last half hour… the shit just wouldn’t go away! It was hard work man, I felt like I was back in the village or something.’

T – *rolls on floor laughing*

Considering how much K hates the use of ‘effort’ in any way, it came as no surprise when for the next couple of days until the toilet was fixed, whenever a bathroom run was needed, K would rather take a walk to the cafe across the road, or plan a day near the Buenos Aires Hard Rock Cafe where ‘the toilets were so amazing I didn’t want to leave!’

A Big Bang Theory quote that reminds me dearly of K – “If outside is so great, why has Man spent CENTURIES perfecting INSIDE?”


I can samba baby…SAMBA! – Samba 4

By the 5th lesson it was all coming together. Feet, hips, arms. There were even moments when I thought not only was dancing the samba heaps of fun, but that it was actually starting to look good!

T, referring to the music – ‘So is this the type of music they play at carnival in Rio?’

Belu and Matias, another dance instructor at Bailer, laugh at me, then positioned themselves to do a demonstration… An amazing demonstration with leg action faster than I could count!

The music for carnival was about a hundred times faster than the songs I had been practicing to.

T, lets out a long – ‘… shiiiiiiiiiit!’

Martias, laughs – ‘I felt that come straight from your heart! Yes, for every 1 2 3 that you do, Belu just did 4 or 5.’

Belu – ‘And the girls in Rio do it in high heels! That’s why when you see them dance they have big muscles in their legs, and big butts.’

With this confirmation that I was far from being Rio samba ready, I booked another week of private samba classes.

Watch your arms, it’s not pretty – Samba 3

Belu – ‘Now, when you move your arms to samba it has to be tense with relaxed lady like hands. What you’re doing is more Thriller’ (refer to Michael Jackson dancing zombie graveyard scene)

For some reason, while trying to concentrate on swinging my hips and getting the 1 2 3 step, my hands would refer to the more crab claw position with a ‘zombie coming to get you’ like swing. When trying to relax my hands in an attempt to be more ‘lady like’, they would start finger-pointing or tense into a stop sign.

I was like a hip-shaking, samba dancing traffic controller.

It’s all in the hips – Samba 2

Belu spent the next 2 samba lessons concentrating on my stiff hips.

Belu, counting out the basic step – ‘123, 123, 123, Hips Hips Hips, I want to see more hips..MORE!’

It was like my hip joints were fused together and had no mobility or muscle strength. I started wondering if 30 was too old to start learning the samba (?)

Then on the third day I let my posture slacken out of exhaustion with my arse sticking out and, low and behold, my hips started swinging to the beat and in time with the steps.

T to Belu, stunned with swinging hips – ‘look, my hips are moving, they’re MOVING! Hip hip hip hip… ‘

Belu had performed a samba miracle on me, and I was not an easy student – tired, hungover, and stiff most of the time with a serious lack of arm, hip, feet, left and right coordination. It wasn’t a simple task for her – She’s just a brilliant dance teacher!

I was very happy with this hip swinging breakthrough.

Belu, relieved – ‘Good. Tomorrow, we work on the arms.’

Samba’s first shocking lesson – rhythm, co-ordination, where are you?!

The first night K and I ventured out into Palermo, we followed the drum beats to a Brazilian bar called Foyness. In Foyness there was an amazing live band playing with a female lead singer who was absolutely gorgeous! Her voice was incredible and the hypnotic shakes of her hips and rhythmic movements of her arms held me captivated. I fell in love… With her dancing!

In the following week, I found a dance school- Bailer – in Palermo and tried to describe what I had seen without the use of re-enactment. The helpful staff at Bailer informed me that what I needed to learn was the Samba. As the group classes fell at an inconvenient time, and I had limited time in Buenos Aires, I booked myself in for some private lessons.

Thank f#cking Christ. Because what happened in that first private lesson should never be exposed to the public. It was hideous. The movements felt so foreign, so alien to my body. My hips, feet and arms felt like they belonged to different creatures – a duck, hippo and goat, each with their own interpretation of beat and direction. I was so far removed from words like graceful, and sexy, and dangerously too close to descriptions like abominable, with all sorts of wrongs happening simultaneously. No one should ever be forced to see themselves like this, I resembled the snakes on Medusa’s head – the more I watch myself attempt to Samba the stronger the urge to be stone still.

My instructor, the beautifully fit and talented Belu explained that the Samba steps are very very difficult. But that the movement was ‘just like walking’. Hmm, 30 years of ‘walking’ did NOT prepare me for this moment…

Funnily enough, I’ve used that line myself a couple of years ago when I was annoyingly frustrated at Mark for not getting the basic Salsa step ‘Mark, it’s just like walking! What’s WRONG with you!’

He never did get that dance. And after the first Samba session I was pretty doubtful that I would ever get this dance, and whether something this unattractive and improper could possibly evolve into something presentable in time for Carnival in Rio.

Vinilo Cafe – Music!

I love all kinds of music, so it was by great fortune that I met Vicky, who is a musician and shares my passion for live performances. She invites K an myself to attend a show at a venue called Vinilo Cafe along with her retired father who was visiting from California.

The venue has a theatre layout filled with 2, 3 and 4 seater dining tables complete with romantic candle lighting, and an inconspicuous bar at the back. The Argentinian audience is politely serious, with zero tolerance of any distracting sounds not performance related. Meaning, that even if you speak quietly during an act, you can expect a chorus of ‘shushing’ to fly in your direction, but never anything nasty or rude.

K – ‘I can’t believe how polite everyone is, if this was London there would be heckling. We’re so rude.’

T – ‘Even during a good performance?’

K – ‘Yeah, coming from the drunk section. And God help you if the performance is bad ..’

Fortunately, the live performances were delivered by 2 brilliant men of great musical talent.

César Lerner, who played the accordion, piano and percussions, and Marcelo Moguilevsky, who played clarinet, clarón, flutes, harmonica, silbido, and the piano… an about 4 other instruments that I could not identify.

The music ranged from Spanish folk with a fusion of other European, middle eastern, Gaelic, eastern, and african, to jazz and soul influences.

Marcelo also had an amazing voice with a mesmerizing tone, the kind of tone that made you happy and sad at the same time, and even though he played all the instruments beautifully, I found myself wishing he would stick to the piano (my favourite) and just sing.

It was a pleasant night talking music with music lovers. And K, who may not be a music lover of great variety, but is always willing to listen and smile politely.

The social art of drinking mate.

Marcela invites K, Vicky and myself to Plaza Francia where we sit in a park surrounded by arts & crafts markets on a gorgeous sunny day in the upmarket district of Recoleta, to listen to Argentinian bands create a festive feel through live performances of awesome reggae, rock and cumbia music, and to drink the social beverage of mate (pronounced mar-tay).

Mate is a cultural drink of ancient origins and there is nothing that is more traditional of an Argentinean than the mate. ‘If you haven’t experienced drinking mate with an Argentine, then you haven’t been here’.

Along with the tango, the social act of mate is the defining characteristic of Buenos Aires.

Sitting cross-legged in the sun, I watched intently as Marcela filled a small tin tea-cup with the yerba, a chopped and powdered mix of dried herbs, then insert a silver straw which has a filter at its end (called a bombilla), deep into the mix .

T, surprised that the yerba filled the cup right to the top – ‘It needs to be that much?’

Marcela – ‘Yes, but you do not stir, just add hot water and then.. and then you ..you ..’

T – ‘Suck?’

Marcela, giggling and turns red, nods – ‘and then you suck.’

The typically gourd mate cup is then passed around the group with each person having a few sips from the communal silver straw in between conversation. This 1 cup to many is what makes mate a social drink and is an active ingredient in forming immediate friendships through the sharing of, let’s be honest, spit. The social act of drinking mate would be a nightmare to any germaphobe..

The taste of mate is bitter at first, but gets tastier with each round. Sugar is recommended for beginners.

T, to Marcela and Vicky – ‘If this were in Sydney, and we were in a park listening to live music in the sun, there would be a lot of people drinking wine and maybe eating cheese. Since there are so many Argentinian wines and you love your cheese, I’m surprised that I don’t see this?’

Marcela, considering the foreign suggestion, then dismissing it – ‘No, at home or out in the day, it is only mate’

I’m a big fan, and am armed with a couple of mate kits to carry on the tradition back home in Sydney.

Mate anyone?

The beauties of Buenos Aires

There are so many beautiful men and women here in Buenos Aires, and what really amazes me is that their diets mainly consists of meats, breads, and cheese.

They eat so much barbecued meat here!

It’s not unusual so see many beautiful, slender ladies sitting in the outdoor parillas gracefully finishing off a kilo of steak at 10.30pm at night (they start eating late here!)

I know what you’re thinking.. that they’re all a bunch of bulimics?

But it turns out that they’re not. Apart from the girl Marcela caught throwing up in the bathroom toilets at the Hardrock cafe, these woman have remained naturally slim and beautiful off a fat, cholesterol, and carbs staple diet.

I love this town!

Previous Older Entries