So The Mack flew out about a week ago to join me in Buenos Aires and, in typical fashion, I greeted him with clenched fists rather than the traditional open arms. I would love to be one of those girls who gets really excited at the prospect of 3 weeks’ quality time, away from it all. But I’m far too uptight for that.
It’s ok. We’ve developed a system. We wake up, get a few hours’ work done. Have a huge fight. Then head out for some lunch and sightseeing.
I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about The Mack that winds me up. It seems to be everything. Let’s see…
He can’t speak Spanish, so I have to do all the talking. And when he does try a few words, he says them in a deep throaty growl, so he sounds like a Latin American Tony the Tiger. “Una cervesa-grrrrrrr”. Funny the first time…
The fact that no bread basket is safe within a 5 metre radius.
But mainly because he wants to do stuff all the time. Not just mooching around, but stuff that requires some degree of organising. I mean, how dare he come all the way over here and then want to do something interesting. Why the hell can’t he be content with just being here? So bloody unreasonable.
What can I say, I tried my hardest to deter him, but the man is strong-willed. And thank God he is, because otherwise we would have missed out on some corkers.
So I give you Buenos Aires: big Mack style…
At least one meal a day must consist of something that your girlfriend/wife/cardiac surgeon says is bad for you. If you can, try to combine deep fried with pastry and sugar. Plenty of options in Buenos Aires. Sweet and meaty empanadas? Dulce de leche with everything? Two double-scoop ice-creams back-to-back, with extra sauce and cookie sprinkles? Don’t mind if he does.
The Mack said that he’d always had dreams of retiring to Buenos Aires and could picture himself as a bald, fat man in a white linen suit. Sadly, we weren’t able to find the linen suit….
Have absolutely no sense of direction and claim that it’s because they built BsAs the wrong way round. Seriously think about downloading a compass app so that you can find North. Regularly say to your girlfriend: “it’s that way, right”? Er, wrong.
Mix with locals
Use vayable.com to find interesting tours and experiences given by local people – we did a tour of the lesser known Caballito district (cool barber-shop museum and an incredibly ornate church where Pope Francis was baptised, no less) and a wine-tasting (which I spoiled by being a know-all and the best taster was actually the Mendoza olive oil).
Buy yourself a pair of finest Argentinian leather brogues. In a colour that can only be described as dirt-cowboy-yellow.
Point out to locals the inherent flaws in their economic and fiscal policies. And make a sound like a ticking clock when talking about their future. Then say that it’s such a shame, because they really were such a highly educated, civilised, wealthy nation…
Be afraid, be very afraid of the gargantuan koi carp in the Jardin Japonais. Especially the one that looks like it has false eyelashes. Make sure you push a few small children in front of you for easier bait.
Make sure you get to a football game. Don’t bother with Boca Juniors – $200 a head to sit with a load of other gringos doesn’t make for fun times. The Mack found a great guy called Eze through Vayable who took us to his family’s box at Independiente to watch a relegation battle.
Thoroughly woeful match (no structure to their play and the worst back four we’d ever seen), but great atmosphere. And we had the excitement of being bundled into Eze’s uncle’s car as the final whistle blew to avoid being beaten to death by the Independiente fans who were baying for the Chairman’s blood after the 1-1 draw (the Chairman’s box was 3 down from ours…). Footballing passion in spades.
Admire the old Mafioso-looking men at the afternoon milonga at Confiteria Ideal. Feel truly like the Mack Daddy when they ask you for permission to dance with your chicas.
Get suckered into trying a tango lesson when you’d only turned up at Café Vinilo so early because you wanted to be sure to get a table. Mangle your girlfriend’s feet and get frustrated that Tango is such a restrictive dance when you’re just itching to bust some moves. Console yourself with the full Latin cheesiness of the club singer. Decide that the chorus lyrics to all tango songs are probably “Antonio Banderas, Antonio Banderas, Antonio Banderas…. and Penelope Cruz“.
Off the Beaten Track
Take a trip out to the delta at Tigre. Ignore the weather forecast and sit on a speedboat for 6 hours wearing only a t-shirt. Discover that the river plate makes it possible to walk on water for a stretch of about 60km between Tigre and Buenos Aires (you might have to swim the last 200-odd metres). Bang on about this amazing phenomenon for the rest of your trip/life. Don’t worry about whether anyone’s listening.
And then congratulate yourself for a job well done. Next stop, Uruguay.