September in Buenos Aires was a great month. Though I did not get out of the city at all, I did manage to make the most out of the opportunities that presented themselves inside of this so called “Paris of Latino America”. But I do believe that a large part of that success stemmed from getting the month rolling in the best of ways.
August was officially the month of Tango here in Argentina’s great capital, and I managed to get to a couple simple Tango lessons in, so that I may bring the dance back home to the 406. There was some very basic steps and counting, which I found relatively simple because I’ve been to swing dancing on Monday nights at the SOB barn.
But it was during this month that I was able to witness something that I can certainly say this cowboy will never do. And that is dance like a World Class Tanguero.
Thanks to some luck and very kind friends, I was able to get a ticket to watch the finals of the World Tango Competition. This is a big event down here because there are Tango dancers from all over the world that come to participate, and being that Tango was invented down here, the locals come out in force to support their own and bring home the championship.
The evening was spectacular. We went to the most famous stadium in Argentina (that’s not for soccer of course) and sat amongst thousands of other fans as we watched the 20 best Tango pairs from around the world give it their best. Though I have never watched a big time Broadway show, I imagine that this was on a comparably brilliant level of production. The lights and stage effects were amazing, and there were at least 15 cameras around the stage that broadcasted live to an online Argentinean audience. There were also enormous screens on either side of the stage which displayed the intensity and focus of every elegantly dressed dancer.
After all was said and done, Chizuko Kuwamoto y Diego Ortega were crowned champions after their dazzling performance that stole the breath of every admiring spirit in the building. I later found out that Chizuko, from Japan, spoke very little Spanish, and that Diego knew just as little Japanese. However, in their interview during the award ceremony, Diego commented on how the language barrier was not necessary for performing on such a high level. He said that they communicated perfectly by means of the language of feeling: tango.
The other highlight of September was attending one of the religious events of the Argentine life style. A soccer match between the Argentine national team and the recent World Cup Champions, Spain.
I took a taxi to the River Plate stadium with my buddy Philip, from Denmark, as we embarked on an unforgettable day. On our way to the stadium in taxi, we found ourselves getting passed by the national team in their bus in route to the stadium. Something that as a sports nerd, I found extremely exciting. Once we got to the stadium, the atmosphere was simply electric. Everybody was wearing their celestial blue and white jerseys, waving their flags, and singing songs of passion and dedication about their beloved team. Once we entered the stadium and found our seats amongst the other 65,000 seats. Unfortunately, the wooden benches are designed for maximum capacity of Argentine fans, who are on average 5 inches shorter then I am. Needless to say, my legs were crammed in there, but I didn’t take notice once the game began.
Being it was my first game, I was hoping for a good impression and some early scoring, as I did not want to be bored by a 0-0 draw. And I was in luck because Argentina’s three best players (Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez) all scored in the first half. Every time the net was pierced by a stinging Argentine shot, the crowd would go from a very quiet murmur to screams of exaltation and joviality as confetti rained down from the fútobl heavens. By the matches end, Argentina had defeated the world champions 4-1, and the crowd sang numerous songs to mock and taunt the Spaniards as they made there way off of the field. Philip and I were able to catch onto some of the lyrics to the songs, as we joined the fans in arms and sang of the glory of Argentina.
In September, I was able to find a daily routine and rhythm in my four day a week class schedule. I usually wake up around 11:00 a.m. due to the fact that I stay up late every night either doing homework or inventing cool new hand shakes with my main man, Jonas, who hails from Sweden. Since my classes start at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, I just hang out around the house doing homework and eating cereal and other delicious breakfast foods. Though my routine of getting to and from school has become extremely normal and seemingly very unexciting, I find myself comparing it to the everyday life of MSU, and it suddenly appears quite exciting and different.
Probably the most general statement of the century, I know. “Really, Tom? Bozeman is different then a Spanish speaking city with over 15,000,000 people on the other side of the equator? And it’s next to the ocean too? How is that different again?” But there are some minute details that I find very entertaining and intriguing that I feel like sharing with you. SO… I will be breaking down the little bits and pieces of my average to journey to school in the next few episodes of this here blog.
Cultural difference #1 of Argentina: For breakfast, I enjoy a simple bowl of cereal with some yogurt and the occasional juice if I find myself so willing to take it out of the fridge. However, the milk and yogurt situation of Argentina is very obscure in my opinion. Milk and yogurt are both served in bags. Now this may seem like a fairly petty difference, but let me warn you it is not. Since we are men in this household, we don’t have scissors. Only knives (not actually sure how that makes us men, but I just know it does). And opening a big that is 98% full of liquid white stuff that is begging to come flying out all of your shirt, pants, and feet is not exactly as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Needless to say, the milk and yogurt bags are only about 75% full by the time that I actually pour them into my consumption vessel for the first time. And yes, I did just say pour and yogurt in the same sentence. That’s because the yogurt here is pretty much milk, but only slightly thicker. Kind of like a melted frosty from Wendy’s.
Our house is located in the beautiful barrio of Palermo SOHO which is located about 8 miles from downtown Buenos Aires. However to get to school I have to walk about 15 minutes, take the metro (or SubTe), and then walk another 15 minutes to school. But I love doing this walk alone everyday because it lets me get into the zone. Around the third block, I walk past a nice park where there are always dogs. This is where we run into…
Cultural difference #2: Dogs manage to relieve themselves in some extremely awkward looking ways down here. Now I suppose that’s pretty uniform all the way around the world, but it’s not what the feces is per say that is awkward, it’s what their owners do with it. And as is the overall theme in Buenos Aires reoccurs, nobody really cares, and the fecal matter is just left there for some poor unsuspecting victim to add some decoration to the dark side of their shoe.
Around the seventh block, which is my favorite, I walk past a pizza shop that activates every happy part of my olfactory (this is necessary process after the aforementioned doggy gifts). Then two stores after that there is an auto-body shop that is pretty the coolest. However, it is actually about the exact same as every other auto body store in Buenos Aires. But what separates it is the friendly face outside of it every day. There is an old dog that is 16 years old (I didn’t ask him, I just overheard in his owner’s conversation with some other dude) and he is always just as happy as can be. Though he’s sleeping a lot of the time, he always looks extremely content whether or not he’s in “La La Land” when I walk past him, and so I always get a smile on my face as a result. A couple blocks later, I find myself at the Plaza Italia, where depending on my mood or the traffic, I will hop on a bus, or head to down to the depths of the metro.