Travel Blog 2009

The hard part is settling back into life post Buenos Aires – it’s all a lighter shade of pale! Beige even… Right now I am on a Pacific Island but I am haunted by the moves and sounds of tango, the taste of caipareñ as, the sights of extraordinary shoe shops and of dog poo on pavements. I want to watch locals hold impassioned and incomprehensible conversations, discover new restaurants every night and be gobsmacked by the energy of this city… I want to be back in Buenos Aires!

Jenny Elliot, Rarotonga, The Cook Islands, HowbyBA 2009

Antiques Market last Sunday Afternoon in San Telmo… was a delight as it was Semana Santa (Easter) so every Argy and his dog had exited the city making it very easy to wander…


Am still in Buenos Aires researching and writing and article on Tango. My intense introduction has included a ‘boiler-room’ schedule of lessons over one week with ROSALIA Y ALEJANDRO BARRIENTOS – Each day at 12 pm I’ve headed over to their apartment to gently move and loudly sweat for an hour  – a more insidious workout I do not know. And Rosalia and Alejandro teach together all day, do a very cool tango show (tango and show usually mean yuck) in the bohemian neighbourhood of Boedo by night and teach all over the city in different ‘cultural centres’ and they’re married. That’s tango.

I’ve been trying to track down pictures of early tango – impossible as it was all about men dancing with men while waiting in the lounges of houses of disrepute – in short tango was like gangsta rap in those days and stayed like that well into the 1930s’s…until Paris and Hollywood packaged it.

Below are a couple I met who specialise in Canyengue Tango – more street based and they say direct lineage to black slave rythms – they invited me to their warehouse -milonga on Sunday afternoon and i sat with a glass of Malbec and watched them practice the stutter step of canyengue ….oh…and went to KISS in concert last night….





And of course KISS – my friend Angus Vail who is the business affairs manager for KISS corralled us round like a group of primary school students on a field trip to the museum of ‘natural history’…. in last photo the bored looking big guy is the Ex SAS soldier in charge of keeping that old boys safe…


60,000 fans packed River Stadium – where recently U2 made did five nights for the IMAX 3D movie and The Police filmed a live DVD… even KISS got a picture of themselves in front of the audience who are purportedly the most energetic in the world… The concert ended up with several thousand dollars worth of skyworks…by which time Gene and Paul were safely back having a cup of hot chocolate in their hotel room….

Just another Sunday afternoon at River Stadium for a club football game…River vs Independiente




Blog Entry from Howdy – the crew of assorted and well travelled travel journo’s headed up by venerable Graham Reidof fame departed earlier in the week and I’ve just come up for air…phew what a full on 10 days that was…but we got there and the highlights for me were Palacio Barolo  – a building architecturally based on Dante’s Divine Comedy – so lifts takes you from Hell to Purgatory and of course to Heaven. Oh and the Parrilla in the middle of  the dodgy industrial, broken down dirty backstreets of  La Boca was wonderful… just trying to find a taxi driver who knew where it was proved difficult. …

oh and Babel, a bunch of groovy gypsy musicisans at the disused oil refinery…edgy in a good way.

Yesterday I had a day trying to find the Project honouring the Disappeared – anywhere between 10,000 to 30,000 left leaning individuals were dragged from their homes in the middle of the Dirty War in the 1970’s and first tourtured at The Naval Engineers base and then many were thrown from Helicopters into the Rio de Plata…

What’s amazing about Argentina is that there a numerous reminders of this time – from the footpath plaques in San Telmo marking various houses where people were taken from and never seen again to the actual Naval Base where the systemic torture took place. And this is where I tried to go…Somehow I walked through the wrong gate…and they were first shocked I had got in and then said we cannot show you …you have to come back in three months… I am determined to get there.

…and anyone coming to Argentina do make the effort. Ask about ESMA or call 4704 5525 or google ‘Espacio para la Memoria. This is a very recent project with the Govt giving parts of the base to an organisation run by people who were tortued. On Mondays and Fridays these actual victims lead you through the buildings they were tortued in.

Evidently in the 60’s and 70’s and the Military Dictatorship there was a very very left wing guerilla group – The Montoneros – who still hold a record for the biggest ransom ever paid for one person of US$60 million.

They were bombing the joint to bits and many said  – just make them go away – well the Military Dictators really took to the task to the point that if you were caught reading Portnoys Complaint…off you were went.

Ok so I have yet to load all photos from the group that have just headed out… and now have another group heading in…I have been remiss…but the situation will improve.

Below is the favourite way to spend a Sunday in Buenos Aires ….Recoleta Cemetery…and one of the recent Howdy’s Jenny Elliot who owns Sun News, a Cook Islands newspaper for travellers I’ll have you know – and look out for her article on Buenos Aires females in The NZ Herald’s ‘My Gen’…and interesting take on the place of the female in BsAs.



Sunday 8 March ….

As usual it feel like we’ve been here for two months rather than two days…

We have two apartments – one that has a swimming pool that’s about to be used as the heat gently drifts backs after a hard downpour late yesterday afternoon that cleared the fug out … last night was Parrilla night…and what better place that the joint in the middle of no-where in an industrial zone that the first three taxi drivers hadn’t heard of the street – but got there to a place full to the brim with Argentines enjoying their ‘bife de lomo’ ….and the odd small intestine thrown in.



Friday 6 March 2009…



the requisite first hour in a plaza in San Telmo with new bunch of Howdy’s meeting each other and supping that first glass of Malbec…so far so good… big big big walk today uptown…what a contrast to San Telmo – felt i was back with my people – the uptown girls – all a cross between ali mcgraw and penelope lopez, but who’s taking notes.

First night dinner was a taps of seafood, chorizo and spanish omelete…while this guy was trudging home…




Wednesday 4 March 2009


We’re having a heatwave… or we were…until the blessed rain fell – taking temperatures tumbling from 30 degrees (80% humidity) to more bearable 22 degrees.. so have double doors of apartment wide open after torrential rain. Therefore the thick thug that’ been hanging over the city until today is gone to at least tomorrow…



Highlights as I rush around like a mad dog arranging stuff and begging seats in restaurants from haughty waiters has to be Serendipitous Saturday night -right on Avenida de Mayo I wandered into an open air flamenco concert with some legend from Spain by the name of Enrique Morente accompanied by four percussionists, three guitars and four backup singers come flamenco dancers. The dancers stole the show – and the guys sang for two hours in that half throttled gypsy kings voice with thrashing ac0ustic guitars…and he is in repose…Dude


Second highlight thus far has been sorting out a Parrilla that’s tucked away in very dodgy industrial area but the place is full to the brim every night with people chowing down plates of steak and other bits in between… walked in a sweat ball over there yesterday and nothing going on until you hit this little joint amongst the run-down warehouses…but you have to call five days in advance to get a seat!

And like new zealand …the talk is doom and gloom with the CIA (yes that CIA) coming out and saying Argentina will be the first Latin American country to feel full brunt of global eco-downturn… they have sinced apologised…too late I think.  And the added drama is the severe shortage of small coins in this city – and small coins make this town move – on the buses…the story they say is that the goverment needs to press more but in the meantime the many bus companies that move this city every day horde the coins and selling them on black market at a big markup…hence the lines of people at small hole in the wall stores buying a stick of gum in hope of getting correct amount of shingle to get home on the bus… one forgets this country operates on graft and backhanders…

And tomorrow ‘Jesus’ the minivan driver and I will head out to the airport to pick up the first bunch of Howdy explorers…

The following quick photos from a new mobile phone that refuses to accept my argentine sim card…so its a non-phone camera phone…





3 Responses to “Travel Blog 2009”

  1. Lacey March 4, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    Wish’n I was there (again) sigh! Love the wide angle off the phone cam

  2. Jenny Elliott April 1, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    Yes that’s me in the red dress at the extraordinary Recoleta cemetery… the hard part is settling back into life post Buenos Aires – it’s all a lighter shade of pale! Beige even… Right now I am on a Pacific Island but I am haunted by the moves and sounds of tango, the taste of caiparenas, the sights of extraordinary shoe shops and of dog shit on pavements. I want to watch locals hold impassioned and incomprehensible conversations, discover new restaurants every night and be gob smacked by the energy of this city… I want to be back in Buenos Aires…!


    • Linzi Irving November 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

      :-) You wore a red dress in Recoleta cemetery just 10 weeks before me.
      I still wish myself back there regularly, the smell of it, the romance, the dance, the sultry night air. The powerful women. I would like to see your photos some time. Linzi

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