Senses of the Sea (Bilingual)

The sea fragrances seep into soul and self.
Filtering through
seaweed scented brisk breezes.
Crisp penetrating aromas
Soothing shell and spirit.

The Sea pageant dances into the horizon.
Unfolding,revealing,
bobbing buoys and boats,
shades of light, shifting sands.
Snapshots of the oceanic sky

The sea caresses slippery sand
pulling away
footprints, coating toes and soles.
Hugging and tugging at earth’s edge,
the sublime watery universe.

The sea flavours hint and seduce
Coating and crusting
lips and tongue licking
salt and delicious delicacies.
Light, tasty and morish.

The sea echoes reach the sky.
Lapping waves ripping tides.
Birds call and squawk. Horns and motors
cutting through soothing airs,
drowning in gusty gales.

The sea moods burst and bubble,
Ebbing and flowing
nested in seaweed.
Frothy highs, dipping lows
Capture, mirror
The essence of being.

The sea mind makes mystic serenity
Captivating, energising,
liquid language, whipping words,
Potent hybrid serendipity.
The compass journey,
the perpetual power of the sea.

The sea’s stories, myth, and mystery.
told and moulded,
in mariner’s rhyme.
Sea horses, sea sirens, shipwrecks,
mermaids, and albatrosses.
Standing the test of time.

Seeing the Sea from Seil Island, Mirror image Scotland

Las fragancias marinas se entran al alma u el yo.
Filtrando a través de
la brisa fresca con aroma de algas
Aromas agudos salados
concha y espíritu calmante.

El desfile del mar baila en el horizonte.
Despliegue revelador,
flotando boyas y barcos,
tonos de luz, arenas moviendo.
Instantáneas del cielo oceánico.

El mar acaricia la arena resbaladiza,
Separando, desapareciendo
huellas, de dedos y plantas de los pies.
Abrazar y tirar al borde de la tierra,
el sublime universo acuoso.

Los sabores del mar insinúan y seducen
Recubrimiento y pone costra
Labios y lengua lamiendo
sal y deliciosas delicias.
Ligero sabroso y morisco.

Los ecos del mar alcanzan al cielo.
olas relamiendo, mareas violentes.
Los pájaros llaman y graznan. Cuernos y motores
cortando los aires tranquilos,
ahogándose en ráfagas de viento.

Los estados de ánimo del mar estallan y burbujean
Refluyendo y fluyendo
Altos espumosos, bajos caídos
Espejo de captura,
la esencia del ser.

La mente marina hace serenidad mística,
Cautivante,energizante,
lenguaje líquido, palabras de azote,
oportunidad híbrida potente,
El viaje de la brújula,
el poder perpetuo del mar.

Las historias, el mito y el misterio del mar.
dicho y moldeado,
en la rima de marineros.
Caballitos de mar,sirenas marinas,naufragios,
tritones y albatros.
Pasando la prueba del tiempo.

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Buenos Aires 5 Temaiken Fascinating, Informative, and Surprising

Where was I going?

I was now half way through my holiday and my next trip was to visit a bio park called Temaiken. I had signed up for this at the hotel and wasn’t sure what it was. The hotel pick up took us to various hotels in the city once more, those of us visiting the park were given our tickets and told to be ready for pick up at 4.30pm, then pointed to the entrance. The place was heaving with families, it was summer so the children were on holiday and it dawned on me I was in some type of zoo. I groaned saying to myself, I’ll never find enough to do in six hours. I was to eat my words.

The same but different

Temaiken is massive and it does a lot of work rescuing and saving animals and birds that have been captured for the exotic pet market. I really felt I was somewhere different when I saw the South American swans, they have black heads and necks but white bodies.

Black and White Swans

The Ray family

I slowly made my way around and sat down in front of the fountain, beside a large building. Feeling refreshed from the water spray I entered the building which was the aquarium; it was huge. Built like a tunnel, things were swimming above and around you. I was taken by the ray family, never having seen such a tiny one before.

Is it a roar or a meow?

Leaving the aquarium I found a seat and checked out the map, I’d been here just over an hour and had only scratched the surface, the place was huge and so where the animal enclosures. The tigers, lions, and cheetahs had enormous spaces to roam, however all the big cats were behaving like all sensible felines; they were all fast asleep in the shade of large trees. The only large cats I saw move were the Patagonian Pumas who were jumping in and out of the caves and the pool that formed part of their enclosure. Pumas meow and don’t roar, the info board told me, cue guilt about Sophie my cat.

Puma Pond big drinking bowl

Not so Angry Birds

However, the place that fascinated me most was the aviary, not really comfortable around birds, I was impressed by the statistics of the birds they had saved, some able to return to natural habitat where possible. All their info was posted on  very large angry birds billboards at various points throughout the aviary. Although enclosed, the roof was very high so much so it could hardly be seen, it was like entering the jungle, mimicking the lush habitat that these beautiful creatures had been snatched from. It was sectioned into different world wide habitats and felt more like a greenhouse in a botanic garden than a large cage. I came across another fountain, this one you can walk through, the water showering above making a canopy from the water, I savoured the sensation of moving water. Birds were wandering around freely, but large requests asking visitors not to feed them were everywhere. There was a cocky turquoise one who had clearly adapted to his habitat and its visitors. It was no surprise that certain types of people would want such a beautiful bird as a trophy but they belong in the correct habitat.

Rescue Centre

There were several eateries in the park and I had now been here for four hours so decided to make my way to the entrance and eat at the place nearest the pick up point.   En route, I passed the rescue and recuperation centre and vet’s clinic. This held the recently rescued animals and birds that were being treated and returning to full health. A little mirikina monkey , caught my eye, she had been so injured and traumatised by being kept in a tiny cage attached by a collar, she couldn’t return to the wild but seemed happy enough in her large enclosure. Next to her was a meloro bear, brought to the park having been hit by a car, he can’t be retuned to wild like the monkey they wouldn’t survive in their natural habitat but now living symbols of what can be done to save them, but even better that these animals were left where they belong.

Unexpected Surprise

Lunch wasn’t great a chicken burger joint and not wanting to get lost, I had taken several wrong turns during the day,  I made my way back to the main entrance and sat down. It was nearly 3 o’clock. I could not believe I had spent so much time here. It was still a while to the bus but the souvenir shop called but decided to wait till my feet recovered.  At four o’clock shopping done, I left the park and met up with a woman from Bolivia waiting for same bus,  and we got chatting till the bus came. They were here with their children on holiday. I loved speaking the language and how it helped me to communicate with some lovely people. We made our way back to the city in rush hour and I was dropped in the main street near my hotel. No museums or art galleries this evening, eat at the restaurant next door they did a good meal deal and rest. Over my evening meal I reflected on my day, totally unexpected and it had brought home the horrors of animal trafficking for trophy pets but the also the better side of human nature  as the staff at Temaiken show in their daily work caring for all those in their care.

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Buenos Aires 4 Out of the City, into the Delta.

To The Port

My first trip organised by Nick Thomson Destinations Travel Edinburgh and first out of the city was a boat trip through the Tigre Delta. On arrival back at the hotel the previous day, I had my instructions handed to me at reception. One of the provisos of the booking was being told the night before the form of travel, the tides would determine; boat out train back or vice a versa. I knew exactly where I had to go, the departure point was the same place as the previous boat trip. I chose to use a taxi once more, the metro is fast and efficient but doesn’t cover parts of the city and in the heat it wasn’t worth arriving tired and dusty to start the day.

On Board

The vessel was bigger and much busier than the day before, some people arrived with guide, and others like myself were waiting for our guides to join us. I had by this time located my companion for this trip. I had never travelled through a river delta before and was looking forward to it. Our guide turned up and not long after we set off.

Cruising The Delta

The Tigre Delta is to the west of the city and we were soon in a large expanse of water, as we made our way towards our destination, the channels narrowed and on the banks peppered among the lush sub tropical vegetation were buildings, ranging from small huts to others far bigger. Our guide explained they were holiday homes and many were rented out. The majority had their own boats, all with outboard motors. People did live here permanently, and children were picked up on the school bus boat to take them to their classes.  The delta was teeming with vibrant energy; people were all waving to each other from other boats and the shores.

The path of the three river mouths

Tiger Island

 

Our destination was the Island of Tigre and the little village there. The plan had been to use the hop on hop off but the companion was a bit difficult and said she’d prefer to walk and it was much longer than it initially seemed. My feet were swollen and very sore but a loosening of the laces as memories of life living in the heat in Spain came to my aid.

Buying a Penguin

My first stop had been to get some water then I wandered round the market, all local produce. Again, gifts easy to obtain large wooden spoons for a friend who makes cauldrons of soup with her pupils and a box made from local hardwood “alamo” for another friend who collects boxes. I also bought my self a water jug called “pingüinos – penguins because of their shape; the lip is like a penguin beak, very typical in Argentina. Hand made in ceramic  and each one was individually painted, Graciela potter and shop owner told me. She asked where I was travelling to and she gave me a hug and almost burst into tears to find out one of her pingüinos was going to Scotland. It arrived safe and sound, now part of my jug collection.

Hopping Off

Our meeting point with our guide was at the hop on hop off bus stop, my companion was having a freaky at his none appearance as the bus was due at our stop at 2pm, then it dawned on us he was going to be on the bus. We did the full route but we had lost time because of the long walk to the market so not able to do any hopping off, though the town was bigger than initially imagined.

Return to the Future

My companion wanted to stay and explore more. A lot of places were closed and I was glad she was going. While we were waiting for the train our guide, whose names escapes me now, explained the large tiled map on the wall of the train station showing the route we had travelled though. The trip had been relaxing weaving through the delta and wandering round Tigre. The high speed commuter train catapulted us back to the 21st century as soon as we entered the carriage. It took thirty minutes to return to the city, the boat had taken over two hours and we arrived in Constitution station. I felt like I had arrived in London, the station had been built by the British who had also built most of Argentina’s railways. It was based on a design for the station in Calcutta.

My guide escorted me to the metro entrance within the station, only four metro stops from the station outside my hotel. However, when I got off I discovered I had to walk through a very long interconnecting tunnel, it was air-conditioned, but I had come to loathe these long tunnels when I lived in Madrid. I finally emerged and made my way to my room.

Art in the Evening

Tired but not daunted I had discovered that there is a very civilised timetable for art galleries and museums, many open till late 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening. Frustrated I hadn’t taken advantage of this at the weekend I had a short rest and freshen up and hailed a cab to visit the National Gallery of Art.

The first thing that struck me was you walked in got your ticket and there was no tight security check. Nice but how long will it last? It was lovely, air conditioned with seating at regular intervals. I wandered round for three hours, seeing an amazing collection of art, a Degas ballet dancer, some Argentine artists, some enormous Ming dynasty vases; it was a veritable eclectic mix. Nevertheless, I remain a sceptic regarding modern art, my personal criteria is if I think I could fling some squiggles on a canvas and flick some drops over it I don’t rate it. My subjective opinion I acknowledge. I can sit for ages looking into a picture, especially the Impressionists but “modern art” does not capture my imagination. I rested for a while in the small roof garden of the gallery overlooking the Faculty of Law.

The Roof Garden

 

 

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Buenos Aires 3 Inspiration for a Poem

More Trips

My first Monday in Buenos Aires, a city I was falling in love with at every corner, I did two trips. A city tour in the morning, giving more opportunity to explore places I had only glimpsed from the hop on hop off and in the afternoon a small boat trip to see the city skyline form the River Plate.

First of May Square

The bus was large and roomy and we set off collecting people from various hotels, then to a meeting point where we all changed buses to our corresponding trips and set off. Our first stop was Plaza Primero do Mayo, first of May Square. It is not big, which makes the large state buildings seem even more imposing. It is home to the Casa Rosada, the Pink House, the Presidential Palace. It is pink because blood from the slaughterhouses was used to waterproof the white wash. The square also gives its name to the movement “Madres de Primero de Mayo”, Mothers of the First of May. Their symbol the white headscarf, one is painted on the stone tiles in the square amid hundreds of minute wooden crosses, each one holds a white poppy, in honour of the disappeared, los desaparecidos.  The people who went missing during the brutal military dictatorship which terrorised Argentina in the mid seventies and fell on losing the Falklands War or as the islands are known in Spanish Las Malvinas. It was a haunting moment as historical knowledge became a lasting personal impression and lead to the composition of my poem “Los Desaparecidos”, also posted in this blog and performed in The Just Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017.

Footie

Our next stop was a place I never planned to visit. I remember when telling my brother, football fanatic, where I was going I stated I wouldn’t visit Boca Juniors Stadium. The hop on hop off passes by, this trip makes the stop. We were given the option to stay longer here or at the next stop La Boca Caminito and the markets there, by majority we opted for the second stop. Most of us got off the bus, the fans queuing up to take photos beside life size plastic models of Maradona who played for Boca and Messi in his Argentine national shirt, who didn’t. One fan of the other Bs As team River Plate, stayed on the bus refusing to step into enemy territory, Football clearly connecting to our tribal instincts. Gift shopping easy though, three Boca junior track tops were purchased for my football loving family members.

La Bombonera The Chocolate Box

La Bombonera

La Boca’s stadium is called La Bombonera, because it looks like a chocolate box. It is also painted blue and yellow. The reason for this is curious. La Boca takes its name from the mouth of the small tributary that leads into the River Plate, boca means mouth in Spanish. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was a very poor area, full of European immigrants, mainly Italian. They made their homes from scrap corrugated iron and most worked in the docks. An important industry was repainting ships and they used the leftovers to paint their homes giving the animated rainbow feel that can still be seen today. The Swedish Navy  had their ships repainted there and a large consignment of paint was left over, it was used to paint La Bombonera, hence their vibrant colours that coincide with the Swedish flag.

Lemons

The River Plate fan was fuming and cursing as every one piled on the bus with our footie souvenirs. It was only a few minutes away from La Boca Caminito. I was delighted, I had wanted to get off there, but hop on hop off logistics had made it unrealistic. A wander round more stalls and a visit to an old house now converted into museum. Here I was to learn Argentina is the world’s largest producer of lemons from the woman who was selling organic lemon products, beauty and bath and lovely lemon liqueur. The gift shopping was proving to be fun and very easy.

Meeting people

The morning had flown by and the second trip of the day was a mini cruise to observe the cityscape from the sea. A family of four from Cordoba in Argentina and myself were the only people taking up this option. However, we had to wait an hour and they invited me to join them for a quick sandwich lunch. We found seats and lots of street food vans very near where I had stopped  a few days earlier, where I had seen the statues.

River Cruise

They were a lovely family and they were thrilled that I was able to communicate in Spanish and let their son and daughter ask me questions, which I delighted in answering. Slowly we made our return back to the start point to find we were the only passengers, we had the launch to ourselves. It was lovely to enter the cool of the air-conditioned cabin and we all had a row each. Like all port cities, it is mesmerising the see-saw effect of the buildings coming and going as the vessel weaves and wanders from the shore.

Sun and Shade

Our plan had been to walk to the bus stops that had been pointed out by our guide but it was a much longer walk than seen from the comfort of a bus and we opted for taxis. The rush meant we went our separate ways and I regret not keeping in touch as the children were on Facebook. Lovely memories of lovely people.

Evening in the Woods

Having reached my hotel and not found the taxi extortionate, I decided to complete my day by visiting the Rose garden, part of the Bosques de Palermo – Palermo Woods the Multi Park Complex to the north of the city. Unfortunately, the bridge to the garden was under repair and I couldn’t see an other entrance. I wandered through the park and sat on various benches and people watched as the air began to cool as evening settled. I had forgotten my phone and the worry that I might have lost it or left in the taxi had me return to the hotel quicker than planned. My phone was there, relieved and relaxed, I popped to the little restaurant next door and opted for chicken, the beef was good but I needed a change. Plain, perfectly cooked, served simply with chips and salad. A satisfying end to a very satisfying day.

 

 

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The Poet’s Address to the Hacker (Bilingual)

Dear Mr hacker, thank you for wanting to be my friend,
and friend of my friends, and friend of the friends of my friends.

Into my life sudden and swift,
arriving with your dirty tricks
disguised and distorted,
I made the dreaded click.
A flurry of posts, messages, and texts
from friends old and new
with the dreaded news,
but not new to you,
my digital life invaded and violated.

Dear Mr hacker, thank you for wanting to be my friend,
and friend of my friends, and friend of the friends of my friends.

Facebook logs and bots
swooped into action,
my account blocked.
I now had to face the digital hurdle race
of three step authentication.
Fifteen minutes it took to reset,
clicking on comments, photos and friends,
conditions met, arrived the final code to reopen the net.

Dear Mr hacker, thank you for wanting to be my friend,
and friend of my friends, and friend of the friends of my friends.

Messenger and time line awash with warnings,
and even more questions, I went on repeat
With stock reply “Don’t open and please delete.”
My meds I forgot to take
because of your video fake.
Raging sugar and throbbing head,
sent me weary and worn to an early bed.

Dear Mr hacker, thank you for wanting to be my friend,
and friend of my friends, and friend of the friends of my friends.

Mr hacker you robbed my time,
and you made me ill.
So now I do opine,
my brain you cannae hack,
Your life must bleak and lonely be,
alone in front of screen
creating scams, viruses and bugs.
The actions of a creep, a coward and a bit of a freak,
So sad it must be, to live like thee
but for you I cannae weep

Dear Mr hacker my address to you is at its end.
I don’t want to be your friend,
neither do my friends, nor the friends of my friends

Keyboard in a tunnel

El Poeta Dirige al Hacker

Estimado señor hacker, gracias por querer ser mi amigo,
e amigo de mis amigos, e amigo de los amigos de mis amigos.

Llega en mi vida repentina y rápida,
viniendo con sus trucos sucios,
disfrazado y distorsionado.
Hice el temido clic.
Una ráfaga de avisos, mensajes y textos
de amigos, antiguos y nuevos.
con las temidas noticias,
pero no nuevo para usted
mi vida digital invadida y violada.

Estimado señor hacker, gracias por querer ser mi amigo,
e amigo de mis amigos, e amigo de los amigos de mis amigos.

Logaritmos y robots de Facebook
voló en acción,
mi cuenta bloqueada.
Ahora tenía que desafiar
la carrera de obstáculos digitales
la autenticación de tres pasos.
Quince minutos tardaron en reiniciarse
hay que hacer clic en comentarios, fotos y amigos.
Condiciones cumplidas, llegó el código final para reabrir la red.

Estimado señor hacker, gracias por querer ser mi amigo,
e amigo de mis amigos e amigo de los amigos de mis amigos.

Messenger y línea de tiempo inundados de advertencias,
y aún más preguntas, continué repitiendo
con la respuesta repetida – No abrir y borrar.
Mis medicamentos me olvidé de tomar,
debido a su video falso.
Azúcar alto y cabeza sondeando
me enviaron cansado y agotado a la cama temprano.

Estimado señor hacker, mi mensaje para usted está al final
No quiero ser su amigo, tampoco mis amigos, ni los amigos de mis amigos.

Keyboard kaleidoscope

 

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Buenos Aires 2 – Falling in Love with a Honeysuckle.

Foodie Activities

My third day in Buenos Aires I was signed up for a cooking class and I chose to travel on the metro. I purchased my SUBE card in the underground station, literally outside my hotel. It is like London’s Oyster card, it is prepaid and deducts use for every journey on either bus or metro. Simple and straightforward, this has been a very practical marriage between digital and plastic. Guidebooks and those who had visited Bs As before me had said it was a nightmare to use public transport. Small change was required and not easy to get hold off, and people used to stand with jackets open as mini small change money exchanges at an extortionate commission; this no longer happens. Lovely sky blue in colour, mine celebrating 200 years of Argentina’s independence in 2016.

First Trip on Metro

The Buenos Aires metro system uses a similar system to Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris, colour coded lines. I worked out my route, made my way through the long air-conditioned tunnel and got on my first train then switched to another. The hardest part was locating the venue, landmarks were difficult to identify and having found the street it was about a ten-minute walk to reach the correct block. Norma of www.argentinecookingclasses.com answered and told me I was too early and advised a coffee. A nearby coffee shop was located and I discovered that black coffee comes in chico small or grande, large. Chico is an espresso my fav way to drink coffee.

Empanadas the pastry

Perked up by a dose of decent caffeine, I made my way back to find my classmate had arrived. Flavia was from Brazil and in Bs As to learn Spanish. We began by making the filling for the Empanadas, the small filled pastries that look like Cornish pasties or being Scottish a bridie.  We then made the pastry something I am good at, but my techniques were not suited to this type of dough as it is neither kneaded nor rolled just formed into a ball then left to rest. For convenience, we used dough made by a previous class and the next would use ours, as pastry needs to settle.

Alfojores -Argentine filled biscuits

Another Argentine classic is the filled biscuit , alfojores, looking like macaroons; the filling is the ubiquitous but delicious dulce de leche, caramelised condensed milk. A gentle dough is made with a fine grating of lemon zest added to the mix. Once more, we used the previous classes dough and cut the dough into tiny circles to be baked.

Empanadas the filling

The next stage was filling the empanadas. This was a bit tricky but became fun. You can buy pie cutters that fold over to create the shape but we were shown the traditional way. The circle is placed into your left hand, a spoonful of mix was placed in the middle then folded over. Rather than just squeezing the edges together, you pull from the edge then fold over making your way around the half moon shape till reaching the end. This is called the repulge, it creates a double seal, but also helps identify the filling as different shapes and seals are used. Although we used the same filling of beef,  Norma showed us other shapes, one like a large tortellini which is the vegetable filling and similar looking to a Cornish pasty with the closure sitting at the top, is the traditional shape for chicken.

Sampling the hard work

Empanadas went into the oven, as the alfajores discs came out. While they cooled we were shown how to make the lentil and chorizo stew which is eaten to celebrate Argentina’s independence from Spain though it was similar to Spanish dishes I already knew.

The alfajores were ready to be completed; the disks sandwiched together by dulce de leche,  a little dabbed on the outside then rolled in coconut. It was therapeutic, as I find cooking when done in a relaxed atmosphere. The empanadas were also ready, golden and tempting. We then had lunch together sampling the empanadas with chimichirri; the classic Argentine sauce, made from chopped onions and paprika, oregano, garlic, wine vinegar and oil. A tiring but lovely morning had come to a tasty end. I made my way back to the metro station with Flavia my classmate, chatting about our future travel plans.

Empanadas sealed and ready to be eaten.

 

My fatigue had finally caught up with me; a siesta was required. Retuning to the land of the living later than planned, I organised visits and trips for the rest of my stay. Nick Thomson of Destinations Travel Edinburgh, had advised some things would simply be easier to set up locally.

The Food Tour Starter

The following day continued on the foodie theme and I was doing a tour with www.bafoodtours.com round San Telmo, the oldest district in the city. Sunday proved to be a good day as it coincided with the street market. We met at the permanent covered stall market of San Telmo; Amelia our guide and two Australian friends who had just visited Antarctica. We made our way through the market and I bumped into the young lad from Guernsey who had been sitting next to me on the flight. Leaving the market, we made out first stop, wine, cheese, and cold meat tasting. We tried four wines, one white and three red,  merlot, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon, I found the first two reds quite peppery and strong and preferred the lighter cab sav.   The selection of sausages was good, but I was to find all the cheese creamy but rather bland.

We then made our way through a throng of streets heaving with people, street vendors all hawking their wares, antiques, vintage glass, woollens, shoes and empanada sellers, wandering round their trays bundled high with the mini pastry parcels, and I was able to identify the fillings.

A Feast for Meat Lovers

melted polvone cheese with herbs and sausage.

Our next stop was a veritable feast. Jorge, Amelia’s husband had gone to reserve a table, as they don’t take bookings on a Sunday. We began with more sausage this time freshly cooked, there were three different types, all tasty with a chunky mouthfeel like a good butcher’s sausage. There was also a dish of provoleta cheese melted with herbs, which gave it a bit more of kick but still bland. Then came the beef, this was day four in Argentina and I was to eat their stunning beef for the third time. It never disappointed once, this was a different cut, beef skirt or bavette a cheaper cut but prepared correctly it is tender with an amazing flavour.  Accompanied by salad and chips and wine glasses ever filled. The restaurant never emptied and there was a constant queue.

Dessert

Dessert was chunks of quince jelly, which I love, and sweet potato jelly. I have tried sweet potato on a few occasions but I can’t handle the texture, this I liked and in case we were in doubt more chunks of cheese which faired better being paired with the jellies. We were full and Amelia suggested another wander through the market, many things caught my eye and I planned to return. We went inside to what they called tenements but reminded me more of Southern Spanish buildings with courtyards. Originally, homes to the poor where they shared kitchen and washroom facilities, many had become trendy market places; antiques, art galleries, arts and crafts.

Quince jelly and cheese

Falling in Love with a Honeysuckle

We entered one and I fell in love with a large oil painting. It was a single bud honeysuckle, the pale cream finger petals and green leaves set on a background of washed shades of nectarine. I asked the price, in pesos and dollars not cheap but affordable. On every petal there is a tiny couple dancing the tango, every petal a different step. It would be an unusual but perfect souvenir of Buenos Aires. However, caution prevailed and I said I’d think about it. I still remember and regret the beautiful street scene I didn’t buy when I was in Marrakesh the year before. Our final stop was at one of the city’s oldest and most well known coffee shops.

We discussed the picture, I made my decision I had travelled with dollars and pesos, if I had enough left by the end of the week I’d reconsider the painting if it hadn’t been sold. Coffee was how I like it, black, strong, and creamy. Amelia and Jorge kindly offered to drop us all of at our hotels as we were a small group and it was on our route home. In my room, I counted my dollars and put the value of the picture in a separate envelope.

Falling in Love with a Honeysuckle

 

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Buenos Aires 1 The Beginning

Ticking things off the bucket list is one of life’s most satisfying achievements and in January 2017 I did, by travelling to a Spanish speaking country, other than Spain where I lived for twenty three years.

There were several on my list but I had a flash – Buenos Aires. It was in fact the possibly of going to work in the city that lead me, in a round about way to going to work in Spain.

The trip began with good omens when both my flights landed early. Arriving in the height of a Southern Hemisphere summer, my Scottish winter suffering self, soaked up the warmth as soon as I stepped from the terminal building, ego caressed by the tour company rep, who took me to my hotel transfer, asked me where did I learn to speak fluent Spanish.

I had a long chat with the taxi driver and I was delighted on arrival at my hotel to discover my room was ready, I could take up residence four hours before schedule, so thanks to Nick Thomson of Destinations Travel, Edinburgh  for  getting that set up. My room was not the best; looking into an inside courtyard but that meant it was quiet and dark which meant cooler and quieter than overlooking a noisy street.

Argentina is only three hours behind GMT and after unpacking I had the afternoon as well as evening on my hands. I decided on easy exploration and use the hop on hop off bus. I located the start point not far from my hotel, I was tired, and directions are different here. Coming from an old city bearings are landmarks, streets are short often descriptive. Here people speak of cuadras or blocks. Most of them seemed the same to me. Streets are very long going well into the 1000’s

I have mixed feelings about hop on hop services. They do get you around but it’s not that easy just to hop on and off, if you miss a stop then round you go again. I had no plans to get off anywhere, I didn’t feel jet lagged but I was tired, the night flight had been fifteen hours.

Buenos Aires, often known as the Paris of Latin America reminded me very much of Madrid, for me the city has a big plus, it is located on the sea. It was hot, muggy, and over 30ºC and I was happy. It is always difficult to take in the sights on day one  and travel weary but I was able to identify the places I would visit the next day using the same service. I don’t do a lot of research before my trips, I like to discover rather than plan, but one thing that did impress was Buenos Aires is currently the city in the world with the most bookshops. Lovely as sadly, they are a dying breed over here. I had passed quite a few en route.

I discovered route A morphed into route B and I decided to be brave and switched onto route C made it back onto route A to find it was on its last trip of the day and not returning to the start point near my hotel. Now feeling really tired I had to walk down Avenida 9 July which used to be the widest street in the world until the Brazilians built a wider one in their federal capital of Brasilia. The guide on the bus told me my hotel was just a few blocks down the avenida. A few blocks took me about 20 mins stopping on more than one occasion to ask, always same answer a few blocks more. My feet were throbbing in the heat but I finally located May Avenue and saw the entrance to my hotel. I was hungry so opted to visit the small bistro on the corner opposite my hotel for food.

Steak, chips, and salad for under a tenner; the beef was stunning, the mouthfeel different to what I am used to, it was an easy chew not melt in your mouth, steak does need a bit of bite, and coating your mouth with velvety flavour.

Feet rested it was across the street and two doors down to arrive back at my hotel, the air conditioning was on and I sunk into the dim room, dusty and delighted.

The next day I woke, breakfasted in the hotel which was basic but sufficient and headed off to an even nearer bus stop to catch the hop off hop on. Refreshed, confident that my Spanish was well up to the task. Places were beginning to look familiar and I alighted at my first stop Costanera Sur an ecological nature bird reserve; fascinating to observe this as part of the city. There was a long walk way where you could look into the park, the water covered in green plant life. Dotted along the route were statues of Argentina’s sporting greats, I only recognised Gabriella Sabatini the tennis player, only sport I would claim to be a fan of.

I would have loved to have stayed longer, but the demands of getting your money’s worth from the hop on hop all were calling. It was hot so found a spot in the shade till the bus returned; I had had a pleasant wander. My next hop off was at the interchange between route B and C at the MABLA Art gallery. I had a great feeling from the building when I popped in to use the ladies. I then waited till the cross over point for route C to visit the next place that had caught my eye.

Fairy Tale Fishing Club

Looking like a fairy tale castle was the Bs As Anglers clubhouse set on the magnificent River Plate. It was refreshing to be beside the sea. Not enough time to pop in for a coffee as the C route is only every half an hour and I wanted to be dropped off in Palermo Soho Bs As upmarket district.

In Palermo Soho, I had time here for a quick refreshment, wandered round found a lovely little square with a beautiful handbag shop that was closed and wouldn’t open till 5 pm. I couldn’t risk it and hoped to make it back at my own pace. It was time to get back onto route B so I could return to being route A. I had only managed to visit three places though had identified several more places to add to my list. This is what frustrated me about hop on op off you never manage to do as much as you think you can. However, I had acquired a sense of the city, and I was loving its vibes, and feel. The weekend was to be spent on one of my passions, discovering, cooking, and sampling local food.

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