Buenos Aires is a fine town. Our arrival there didn’t start too smoothly, though. We had just been on the worst overnight bus we had experienced yet, and none of us slept very well. We took an overpriced taxi from the terminal towards downtown, asking for a breakfast place where there would be wifi. Once again, we had not booked a hotel ahead of time.
It was still quite early, so we had time. I got online and started the search while the girls looked over the menu. Much to our chagrin, the prices were way too high for us to eat a full breakfast there. Eva was furious about this, and she went ahead and pitched a loud and embarrassing fit. We warned her that if she didn’t chill she wouldn’t even get any orange juice, far less any food, if we got any.
And so she didn’t. Laura ordered one pancake dish to split amongst everyone, but it was off the desert menu, and it had more dulce de leche than it had pancake, I’m pretty sure. It tasted good, but it did little to nourish us, and it had been some time since we'd had a real meal. After much searching, I found a suitable hotel and we lugged our bags back to the streets to find another cab.
The hotel was quite nice, and I discovered from the prices they had posted at reception that we got a great deal, about a third of what they were asking for walk-ins. It was too early for us to go to the room, though, so I gave Laura the computer so she could do some research while I struck out to explore the city a bit at full speed. In two hours, I could cover a lot of ground. I had a nice walk, and what great time I made!
Without a timepiece, I didn’t know exactly how long I had been out, so I went back a bit early, only to learn that the girls had been given access to the room only about ten minutes after I left. They were comfortable there though, and we took it easy for a bit before heading out to find some real food.
Laura really liked Buenos Aires. It has a very European feel, and it was clean, as far as cities go. We did have to keep our eyes open for dog poop in the sidewalk, but none of the streets we walked smelled terrible, and there wasn’t garbage everywhere. We walked to the main plaza and went down some pedestrian streets where there were lots of vendors.
Buenos Aires is big and cabs weren't super cheap, so we bought a subway card and used the tube to get around the city. The girls enjoyed that part very much, and thankfully we actually got seats most of the time. Once, as we were leaving the station, we saw some buskers across the tracks, one playing an according and the other just sitting there, wearing a clown nose. We stopped to watch, which motivated the clown-nosed performer to take up his violin and join in on the melody, which was the Pink Panther song.
I wanted to drop a coin in their case since I filmed part of their song, but we were way across the tracks. I found a two peso coin in my pocket and swung my arm to get my alignment. When I released, it hit the ground on the other side and then bounced directly into the violin case. It was brilliant.
One of our missions in the city was to find a Brazilian Embassy, as we had yet to acquire Visas to enter Brazil. We were too tired that first day to do much, so we walked around and ate, as per the routine, and then went to bed early. The next day we woke up early so we could get over to the Embassy right when it opened. We printed off proof of tickets out of the country and a bank statement, and we gathered our paperwork proving consent for the older girls to travel without one of their biological parents present.
Sometimes the fates are kind, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes we bring our own misfortune upon ourselves. If we had done more research prior to booking our flights, this whole fiasco could have been avoided, but I simply had no idea that Brazil was so persnickety about granting tourist visas. Nowhere else that I’ve ever traveled has been this way.
Long story short – they wouldn’t give us visas. They wanted original birth certificates, which we did not bring, and they wouldn’t budge on it, even though we had copies. Not only was this a big disappointment, because we were looking forward to seeing Brazil, but it created an even bigger problem – our return ticket was out of Sao Paulo, and we now could not get to Sao Paulo.
Frustrated, we went back the hotel, to spend most of the rest of the day online, trying to devise an alternative plan. I had to make an expensive phone call to find out about changing our tickets, only to learn that we couldn’t change the airport, only the dates. This left us only with the option of canceling, to get a partial refund, after a hefty cancellation fee. Plus, the money might not be refunded to our account, I was told, for up to two months. Great.
After much research and aggravation, we finally found flights that weren’t too pricey, going out of Asuncion, Paraguay. When we tried to buy them, we ran into more difficulties. Because we are in a different country, Visa has this program called Verified by Visa, which requires you to enter a whole bunch of personal info to prove your identity prior to buying airline tickets. We went through the process over and over again with two different cards and it continually rejected us, saying some of our info wasn’t correct. After hours of searching for good flights, when we finally found some that we could afford, we couldn’t even get the system to take our card. It was maddening.
Thankfully, my dad came through for us when I contacted him, offering to buy the tickets with his card and letting us wait until we got back to the States to reimburse him. This was a totally lifesaver for us, and I am extremely lucky to have my dad looking out for me.
That being settled, we started to feel the tension lift a bit. We went out that night to see if we could find a tango performance, Buenos Aires being the tango capital of the world. The shows were all pretty pricey, and owing to my stress from everything else, I was reluctant to drop a hundred bucks on a seventy five minute show, but Laura really wanted to see some tango, and I conceded. My reluctance and my general pensiveness almost spoiled the night, but when the show finally started, we were captivated, and it turned out to be a very nice evening.
Tango is a fascinating dance, with legs swinging all over the place and lots dragging and intertwining. The performers were all very good, and there were singing numbers and instrumental numbers from the six piece band. Two accordions, two violins, a pianist, and a bassist, and they played with such panache. The vocalists were also very good. All of the dance numbers were good, but a couple of them were just incredible, being extremely fast and acrobatic, with tosses and lifts and roll over flips.
The next day we headed back out into the city, making our way to the waterfront where we bought tickets for a ferry to Uruguay, for the following day. We walked along the water, stopping at a neat old fashioned boat called the ARA Uruguay, which had been used for expeditions down to Antarctica. The boat was now a museum, and we were able to tour below the decks.
We were slowly making our way to a city park, but right after we’d gotten there it started to rain, and we eventually ended up taking a taxi back across the river to a place that had artisan Italian gelato. The girls love gelato, and this was the second day in a row that we got some.
That night we ate dinner at a sushi place, and during the meal we broke the news of our plan to the girls. Laura has been wanting to go dancing ever since we left on this trip, but it’s always impossible because of the girls. For this night, we decided we were going anyway. We were starting to get adjusted to Argentinian time, finishing our meal at about 9:30, and we told the girls they could watch movies on Netflix while we were gone.
Gaia in particular was resistant, anxious about being left alone. We were in a nice part of town though, in a nice hotel with a twenty-four hour front desk and a front door that locks at midnight. It felt safe to us, and we made it clear that it was happening either way.
So after we got them settled in, we got dressed up and headed out. Laura found out that a DJ she knew from back in her clubbing days was playing that night, and she was thrilled to get to go see him. I had never heard of Paul Van Dyk, but supposedly he is a big name.
We were quite excited on the cab ride, getting to sit together in the backseat for the first time on this whole trip, having a quiet conversation without any whining or complaining or drama. When we arrived at the club, we were not let in right away. We were right on time, but apparently they were late getting set up. After standing along a brick wall for almost an hour, we started getting annoyed. This was our one night out, and we didn’t want to spend it standing on the street. I asked some other people what was going on, and I was told that such was common. Sometimes things don’t get started until two or three.
Great. We couldn’t possibly wait that long, but we didn’t want to leave just yet. Sometime after one, they finally opened the doors, but it wasn’t until well after two that Paul van Dyk actually came on. The DJ who was on before him was not inspiring much dancing, and it almost seemed like a bust until Paul finally appeared. I am not too familiar with electronic music, and before this night, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between a mediocre DJ and a master. But once Paul started his set, I could definitely feel the difference. His music had so much more style to it, with better melodies and more diverse types of instruments. Also, he really had the crescendos figured out, building the energy of the room with rising, accelerating sound, with one arm raised in the air. When his arm dropped, the music, which had been reduced to minimal tracks during the rise, suddenly came back in full force, with chest rumbling bass, a full show of lights, and two cannons of confetti and smoke blasting forth. The crowd always went wild at such crescendos, and I could definitely feel the appeal to dancing to such show.
Laura danced all over the place, right back in her element after many years of being a mommy instead of a raver. I could tell she was loving it, and I enjoyed watching her dance. She is definitely good at it. I, however, was not in my element, and I danced as much as I felt to, though I never felt fully taken away by it. Eventually, I had to pull Laura away and take us home. It was nearing four a.m., and it would be five by the time we got to sleep.
Fortunately, our ferry trip the next day wasn’t until the afternoon, and I paid a little extra to keep the room until we were to depart, rather than having to wake up early to pack and check out by ten. We all slept late and took our time packing.
As much as we liked Buenos Aires, we were excited to be moving on and checking out Uruguay, about which we had heard many good things. After a scramble for lunch (the buffet we’d been going to was closed on the weekends, we found out, and we walked around for far too long trying to find an alternative) we jumped in a cab and got to the ferry terminal just in time.
Next stop, Colonia, Uruguay.