It was the start of my second new life, in a city that had a spin of its own—a wilder orbit inside the earth’s calm blue-green whirl. [Paris] wasn’t open to the hopelessness and lost purpose that drifted around lesser places. Here, people drove through red lights. They walked cursing in front of cars
—A Home at the End of the World
by Michael Cunningham
As for us, it was time to say “Ciao” to our fifth life in Buenos Aires and “Coucou” to the sixth one in Paris. September was the worst possible time to leave Buenos Aires, however. Only two more weeks, and we would have seen roses blossoming at El Rosedal, the rose garden of Buenos Aires. That morning, we walked through El Rosedal for the last time only to see some hesitant rosebuds. The only things blossoming for us that morning were possibilities our prospective life in Paris seemed to promise.
In every sense, it was our time “to get back to the ground.” We had saved months of vacation after 3 tough years in Mexico and we spent this lost time in Buenos Aires. Now it’s time to get back to work, to real life again. So long, then, to the utterly beautiful Argentine people, to the world’s best place to eat red meat, and, most achingly, to the princely life where 1 Euro is multiplied almost by 4. Remember I wrote this trip report “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” when I visited Buenos Aires for the first time in October 2005? Well, look who’s crying now? (Me…ho ho ho….).
Before I get to the trip report, I’d like to spend some time explaining how Buenos Aires was able to keep us her happy prisoners for 6 long months:
1. The Argentine Form
: Let’s put it this way. If we accept that Paris is where “the best of’s” of visual art, gastronomy, architecture, and of fashion and design congregate; then Buenos Aires is the capital of human beauty, the city that primes art students to the concept of “the beautiful” human form. Some of you might argue that beauty is subjective. True. But much of human beauty is also universal. And in my humble opinion, I think the Argentine people monopolize most, if not all, of these elements. I still believe until today that the Argentine form is the form
dreamt and idealized by Renaissance masters in Italy centuries ago but had never actually been achieved by any human race until the Argentine people came along.
2. The Meat Market
: You don’t know what steak is until you’ve tried a Bife de Chorizo
with Argentine wine. You can go to the crappiest restaurants of Buenos Aires and enjoy the world’s best-tasting beef. You just have to remind the waiter not to overcook it (Argentine people like their steak well-done). For me it’s a crime, or may be I’m just being a chauvinist.
3. Broadway on Corrientes
: Buenos Aires is a feast not only to the tongue but also the eyes and ears. Their theatrical productions are almost just as good as Broadway. But the difference is this: on Broadway, you’ll be lucky to get the best seat for 300 USD ea., even if you reserve way ahead. On La Avenida Corrientes
, you can get the best seat in the house for 60 Argentine pesos (20 USD) on the evening of the performance. The first two pics are from (1) the Argentine version of [/i]The Producers[/i], and (2) Las Pequeñas Patriotas
both performed on Corrientes.
Mind you, though: la crème de la crème of Argentine performance are off-Corrientes. It takes place at Teatro Colon. And there, tickets are just as pricey and impossible to get. I almost killed myself when I learned that they were performing Swan Lake at Colon the evening I left Buenos Aires. You have to hurry up, because Teatro Colon is closing very soon for an overhauling renovation. It’s a real landmark. This pic offers you a glimpse of Teatro Colon taken from the last full-stage opera before the eventual closure. Puccini’s La Bohème
, it was.
4. (Last but not least) TANGO & MILONGA
: The people of Blackpool, England, where (supposedly) the most prestigious international ballroom dance takes place every year, can say WHATEVER they want; but the real mecca of ballroom dance is actually in Buenos Aires because tango is simply the superlative of all ballroom dances. This is no idle claim. You look at any dance movies and you’ll see tango comes last in competition scenes that’s because tango is the most difficult and most sensual ballroom dance. Same-sex partners need not feel alienated or intimidated because there are plenty of dance salons in Buenos Aires that accept you for who you are. I never reached my lifelong dream of being Billy Elliot but now no one can tell me I’m a geek who can’t dance.
So, for those of you who are impatient to cross out at least 3-4 things on your to-do-before-you-die list, I definitely recommend Buenos Aires. You can make your own CD, learn tango, live in a penthouse, travel to the edge of the world, all within a manageable budget. That’s exactly what we did. One little word of caution: be a little careful. Although I think Argentine people are among the most marvelous and generous peoples I’ve come across, there are a handful of Argentine merchants and landlords who worship USD and EUR more than their own currency and who will literally punish you for carrying monies worth 3 times more than theirs.
------------------------------------------THE TRIP REPORT: Canine Migration Part 2, EZE
--With the panic over terror plot targeting transatlantic flights in August, we really thought it was the end of air travel. Doggies here practice paddling in Buenos Aires. We thought we’d have to paddle across the Atlantic to get back to France. Lordy lordy, could you imagine? I guess my Mexican dogs and I could do it. We’re tough people. There are these two Mexican fishermen who got lost in the Pacific and came ashore a Pacific isle—ALIVE!
--Miel, the breadwinner of this canine household, is searching for cheap ticket to fly back to Paris on www.airfrance.com.ar
--Miel & Baguette (Monsieur & Madame) and their travel necessities and accessories.
--Terminal B (for international flights operated by Aerolineas Argentina), which we never used, unfortunately.
--Terminal A houses international flights of all other carriers. Today we’re flying AF
non-stop on a 777-200. The flight was a continuation of Santiago (de Chile)-Buenos Aires-Paris.
--Checking in. Argentina is an odd example compared to their American-continent counterparts. Canada, U.S., Mexico, and Brazil have imposed two-piece concepts with all airlines flying in and out for their countries. Two-piece concepts allow two pieces with maximum weight of 32 KG each. So that makes 60 KG for each passenger in economy. Argentina, on the other hand, still subscribes to the international standard weight concept. Let’s get real here. Argentina is a vast country and people travel with lots of stuff. With the weight concept, passenger in economy ONLY has 20 KG of checked luggage, period! That’s nothing. I know a woman who travels with a 40 KG luggage containing only her shoes….oh wait…..that’s me.
I guess European airlines are making way too much money on cargo in and out of Argentina they don’t want to concede these margins to consumers, do they? AF probably received a lot of complaints too. That’s why they’ve implemented this system where you pre-pay your excess weight 24 hours before your flight EZE-CDG at a discount rate instead of full-fare rate at 15 USD/KG. But still, we ended up paying 700 USD in excess luggage and 300 USD for the cage!!!
Under the saving grace of Miel’s AF
PetroleumClub card and probably because the check-in girl felt guilty for that abominable fine we had to pay in excess luggage, our deep-discount economy seats suddenly got upgraded to L’Espace Affaires. Baguette, the Madame, was both ashamed and happy. Oh my goodness, “does the check-in lady have any idea what she’s doing? Did she not see how scandalously cheap we paid for this trip?” But Baguette had to contain herself and act like she didn’t care for the upgrade.
DO WE ALL DO
THAT? I mean what else can we do but say a discreet “thank you” and smile, right? If you act too happy and too grateful then they think you’ve got no class and therefore undeserved of this upgrade. If it were up to Baguette alone, she would have French-kissed that check-in lady for the upgrade.
As a side note. AF
Petro. Club card is offered to anyone working for any small, medium, or big corporations working in the field of oil and gas anywhere in the world. What you do is you send in your business card and they send you back this card that promises you special treatments on [url=“oil routes”]http://www.airfrance.com/double6/passage3.nsf/(LookupPublishedWeb)/en-PETRO-petroleum_ligne_petroliere?OpenDocument[/url]. I think it’s an interesting marketing scheme though highly doubt its success. It’s been around for a while now. I think AF
is mistaken giving preference to this group of consumers. To me they’re the stingiest of all. I don’t know what AF
is trying to accomplish here? Get discount fuel? What’s in it for AF
? In any case, Miel & Baguette didn’t complain. When someone gives you an upgrade, you just say thank you, smile, and direct your ass to the lounge ASAP, (before the manager shows up to downgrade your economy ass back to where it originally belonged).
--Baguette in her “muy fresa” human form. Notice the bombacha pants she’s wearing. She’s such a snob isn’t she? These pants are originally worn by Argentine gauchos (cowboys) and Baguette plans to popularize the bombacha in Paris. She insists that, by next spring, all of them b-tches on Rive Gauche will be wearing this, watch and see. This by the way is one of AF’s lounges at EZE. They have their own lounge but it’s too small and so they use another independent lounge to balance the load
--Miel in his macho posture, sipping his whiskey with soda. Take a little advice from Baguette: If you want a stable relationship and marriage…go with a man who drinks whiskey. This type of men might have an affair or two but will never divorce the person who mixes their whiskey just right. But if you go for men who drink fancy cocktails, your marriage is bound for disaster, girlfriends. Hey, if you don’t want to be tied down and prefer one-night stands then that’s another story. Baguette, however, is a well-bred, nubile girl. She enjoys being a housewife and staying in a stable marriage.
Just a random, curious fact. You know that on the immigration form to enter Argentina, you can choose Ama de Casa or “Housewife” as your profession. Now we’re talking progress and gender equality. Kudos to the Argentine government.
--Waiting to board AF
418, Boeing 777-200 registration F-GSPY.
--The old AF
cabin. Oh well, can’t complain none.
—These “final” signs flag those seats occupied by passengers from Santiago so that those boarding in Buenos Aires don’t sit on their seats and start a seat war. This is a smart move by AF because a seat war between an Argentinean and a Chilean, eternal rivals, is the last thing you want on a transatlantic flight, that’s all I’m gonna say
--chink chink. This is for us, for having made it out of this continent in one family. I tell you it was a hell of a job.
--Malaysia Airlines!!! Finally, I’ve been hunting for this rare bird in Buenos Aires forever. I finally saw it on my last day here. What’s the odd?
--A little snack from Fauchon. Fauchon along with other shops around Place de la Madeline like Hediard are all so overrated. This, for example, they call “Mini-Crêpe au Cheddar”…yeah right…that’s a lot of words for imitation of good old American Ritz Bits.
--Dinner Service begins as the sky turns to peach.
--Pollack for main course. OH
do I miss fish. Argentine people don’t eat fish, practically. I can’t blame them. Their beef is so good.
--I’ve always been super proud of my Asian heritage until this flight. Oh my a.netness, people, this Asian brother of mine from China is going around L’Espace Affaires distributing chopsticks and homemade soy sauce to his compatriots traveling business too. That was so ghetto, brother. What r u doing? The worst thing was that he spilled some of the soy sauce on someone’s Longchamp bag! I covered my face with a blanket throughout the flight, blushing with embarrassment. Brother bother, bother brother.
--Sorbet and then coffee for dessert to relieve my embarrassment from the incident.
--Flying right through Fortaleza and then crossing one of the tropics (don’t know which…please help educate my ignorant soul).
I watched from French movies and had a restful sleep.
--Breakfast over Spain. How fresa is that? No one could have disputed that this flight originated in Buenos Aires. They even serve you dulce de leche
or milk caramel inflight!
--This Terminal (I believe 2F) at Roissy makes me think of a guillotined turtle.
--More of 2F Terminal and AF
birds with beautiful butts.
--Miel, Baguette, and Caramel...are so excited that they metamorphed back into their dog form and resumed their Jalisciense (Western Mexican state of Jalisco) joie de vivre. They’re going “Ay mira mira mi amor ¡qué rico!….Estamos en París.”
--Renault Kangoo from EuropCar to take us to Paris.
--Racing with an Airbus (I think). I suck so much as an a.netter I often misidentify aircrafts. So please specification/correction are welcome
--A Concorde that adorns the entrance of Roissy Airport.
--Back to the 80 square meter Parisian “human hole” we had to endure 3 years of expatriation in Mexico in order to be able to buy. I can’t believe it. Why can’t we all just live in a three-bedroom and a garden and a garage?
--French pastries…oh la la la la la la. I go nuts for these things. I want everyyyyyyyyything. I already imagined myself swimming in a pool of chocolate éclairs and crème caramel à la cassonade….so yummy. And, of course, Baguette finally had her real French baguette with cheese.
--Dogs get jet lag too, folks.
--That evening we all went out to celebrate with a Plateau de Fruits de Mer
, which can only be eaten in France. This is the best thing 80 EUROS can buy, I tell you. Probably with the exception of Japan, nowhere else in the world will you find these fresh and fine seafood delicacies. They taste so good you eat them fresh without any sauce or condiment. When a good French oyster lands on your tongue, you actually feel the Atlantic Ocean’s currents gurgling in your mouth. VIVE LA
This right here is a promise fulfilled. I’ve promised all my doggies that we’ll visit the Eiffel Tower one day—they and I. I embraced Baguette in my arms and told her “You see Baguette, here’s the Eiffel Tower, and Paris, and France, the origin of your name. I know you were born in Mexico but this is your place nonetheless. Because I named you Baguette dreaming of this place. Here’s home. Well, one of my homes but the one I missed the most. You know what that word means? H.O.M.E.—home? It’s a simple English word that means so much to so many people or even to animals like you. It’s a place that’s yours, one that no one can really take away from you no matter what. Here’s where our family began, left for a while, and we’ve made it, back.”……………………………..
I’ve never slept so well until that night
So that’s the end of our canine migration sequels, at least for now. Thank you all of you who have been watching since Part I. Thanks for putting up with us and for not having voted us off the island. I know this is more about dogs than it is about aviation. Stay tuned because Baguette and I plan to go cavorting in Thailand on our twenty fourth honeymoon …hopefully this winter.
If anyone plans on taking your pets to France or the EU, please contact me. I actually became an expert in pet import/export and pet international air travel after all these trips. If I could be of any help, by giving you advice or answering any question or anything, please drop me a line.
--Now I have to go attend my Baguette……….my darling, here I am…………..(I’m soooooooooo lesbian right now).
------------Special THANKS, by the way, for MD11junkie and Marambio, Gastón and Marcos, two true a.netters from Argentina who showed us their marvelous city and who have been more than helpful on many many occasions. There are looooooooooots of cool people on a.net and I can’t wait to get to know you Frenchies on this forum.-------------