McGruff Goes to Argentina

Welcome to sunny Buenos Aires, where the culture is rich and the sidewalk is a frigging minefield. In all honesty it looks like the city suffered an anvil storm about 3 years ago because every 20 feet there is a MASSIVE hole in the sidewalk. They are not repaired so much as they are just kind of filled in with rocks, or not filled in at all. I trip every 8th step. I have twisted each ankle so many times I´m surprised my feet haven´t started facing different directions.

So I got into Bs As (that is how you abbreviate it) and caught a shuttle into town. Going through customs was a lot easier and I didn´t have to pay the 135 dollars I had to pay to get into Chile. I´m still not sure why they charge people that. It´s like they said, ¨Hey we don´t have too much cool stuff here how do we get more people to come? Charge them!¨

So I clear customs behind a man who when he was asked if he was from the United States he shivered like he had just put his thumb in a socket. Turns out he was from France. Yea I wouldn´t like it if somebody screwed it up for me either.

So I check into my hostel and go out for a stroll. I want a slice of Pizza and since Bs As has a tremendous amount of Italian culture (half the people here have at least 1 Italian relative) I find myself a place to have a slice. Good, tasty, delicious. I walk for a while and decide I want another. So I go to another place, and seeing as my Spanish is what it is... I accidentally order a whole pizza.

Now I watched the guy put it in the oven, but I couldn´t very well stop him at that point because all I would have been able to say was

¨No no, one pizza, ONE pizza.¨ So I just paid for it and ate most of the damn thing.

Bs As is beautiful and old and diverse and a little dirty. There are so many unique neighborhoods and places to eat and the shopping is incredible. So many neat and different stores. It is still probably 90 degrees out but I love it. I don´t know what the temperature is in New York and I don´t want to know.

So my second day I take a gorgeous stroll along their revamped Puerta Madero area which converted all of these old shipping building into trendy lofts and restaurants with a beautiful promenade.

I was needing a snack so I went and got an empanada. I couldn't really understand the menu, but they had something called Bife Suave, which I interpreted to mean Slow Beef... or Handsome Beef. Either way it sounded tasty. So I ordered my Handsome Beef Empanada and it was good.

I then went and found an ice cream place and ordered a cone. For you Spanish speakers out there you might know that the word for ice cream cone and the word cucaracha are damn close. I am just glad I got what I intended.

The woman then proceeded to scoop and pry a pile of ice cream the size of a bean bag chair out of the freezer. I worried that perhaps I had accidentally ordered 10 ice cream cones. It took her no less than 5 minutes to get the chair sized scoop out, but I did not complain.

I then took a 4 hour bike ride around the older parts of the city really getting a feel for the city, the immigrant neighborhoods, the new yuppy buildings etc. The city has a lot to offer.

This is where I was about to tell you a story about something that happened over 2 days but for safety reasons I will jump ahead in my story and skip this part for now. You will understand later.

The next morning I go to the San Telmo market which is full of antiques and art and local creations, lots of locals, lots of tourists, lots of walking really close to people. Places like that always make me a little concerned.

I´m always very cautious, I wear a money belt, don´t carry a wallet and keep my head on the swivel. So I´m walking enjoying soaking it up when I feel a woman walk uncomfortably close to me, and my spider sense starts tingling. I keep my eye on her and she just looks shifty. She´s too tan to be a tourist, her backpack is conspicuously empty, also meaning she´s not a tourist, and she wasn´t with friends.

So I don´t think of it until I see her again, 5 feet away from me, standing next to some German couple and she is definitely eyeing his wallet. She moves in close behind him and turns to look around. That´s when I hit her with the crook eye and she froze and tried to play it cool.

But I just kept staring at her. She stood there looking uncomfortable. I warned the German couple but realized I couldn´t just follow this chick all day. I´m not batman, I´m not polizia. And I can´t report her for being sketchy. I don´t know how to say that in Spanish. Hell if people went to jail for being sketchy I´d be serving a life sentence right now.

So I just walked away knowing that chick was probably going to get someones wallet, but like Smokey the Bear says, ¨Only YOU can prevent creepy locals from picking pockets in the markets of Argentina while you´re on vacation.¨

I was wearing my Tampa Bay Devil Rays hat this day (Thanks Grandpa) and it had provoked a couple of conversations. While at the market, a woman approached me and asked me if I spoke English (which I do) and then asked me if I was from Tampa.

Long story short she takes a picture of me and her husband and says;

¨Tell your grandpa that you met someone in Argentina who works for the Devil Rays... my husband´s the General Manager.¨


So I walked around a bunch more, bought some things, and looked over more stuff as the San Telmo market devolved into stinky hippies selling stuff they made and burning incense. I walked over to the wealthy Recoletta neighborhood and another market.

At this point I was starving so I sat down at an outdoor cafe to have lunch at like 5pm. Every meal I have had I have either been way too early or way too late for, as much as I try to blend in with the locals I cant eat dinner at midnight, go to bed at 2, and be ready for lunch at noon.

So I sit down and in my fake Spanish order something I thought looked good. My waiter, a dead ringer for Daddy Warbucks, comes over and when I tell him what I want says a bunch of stuff in Spanish and turns to a different page in the menu.

I guess he didn´t want me to have what I ordered.

So I look on the page he turned to and point to something fairly priced that says Especial in front of it. Especial? Well that must be good! He seems delighted by my choice. He brings me my half bottle of wine (which is something very prevalent down here, its way better than just one glass) and gets my setting all put together.

Then I understand why he smiled.

He brings me out what appears to be a fully grown adult cow. And I realize, I ordered the steak for 2. It doesn´t even come on a plate, its comes on a miniature grill because they want to keep it warm as I eat my 437 ounces of beef. Well, when in Buenos Aires...

I am no longer capable of burping, I try to burp but all I can do is... well... Moo.

I saw the Cemetaria Recoletta which is home to the richest families in Buenos Aires. These massive mausoleums are unreal. It is like a tiny walled-in city, but instead of every one living in massive homes, they live in these massive stone closets, and instead of living, they are dead.

Its kind of weird to catch yourself leaning against one and then go, OH MY GOD I AM LEANING ON A DEAD PERSONS HOUSE.

I saw Evita's grave. Didn´t take a picture because it seemed too creepy.

The next day I went to the Zoo, did shopping in SoHo (they have one too) and had another salad to combat my beef-itis.

There is much more to tell but I am tired, I have to prepare myself for a big day of fighting crime and ordering 2 meals at a time. Ciao Ciao.