Monday, June 09, 2008

Adventures in Tangoland

A week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and here are some fast afterthoughts:

• The nightlife rocks. These people think daybreak is the only decent hour to go home after a night out on the town, which may very well happen on a weekday. And the beauty is that there is a wide variety of offerings for all kinds of tastes. There are lavish discos with sadistic dj's, but in general Argentinians have a pretty sophisticated and ecumenical taste in music. A stroll on the main street in San Telmo on Sunday will give you in just a couple of blocks, a fantastic Klezmer quartet, a duo doing the Stephane Grapelli-Django Reinhardt swing, a pretty powerful Reggae combo, a Brazilian batucada, and of course, Tango. Clubs have all kinds of music, but I guess for good music it is better to go to a bar. The two discos I was forced to visit at gunpoint were not my cup of tea, but they must be heavenly for people who love to have their eardrums blasted by soulless music.
• I know there are many poor people in Argentina, but it is not like Mexico or other Latin American countries where the economic differences in social strata are abysmal. In Argentina there is a solid, huge middle class. It is a country of immigrants and therefore much better integrated socially, it seems to me, than a place like Mexico, where never the twain shall meet if the white rich people can help it. So then, the instances of counterfeit money floating around freely and the disappearance of the bag (loaded with lovingly selected family presents) of a colleague of mine, under the hotel's watch (at the luggage safe room, no less) seem particularly mean-spirited. I don't believe in justifying when poor people steal, but dire hunger is more understandable than this kind of well-heeled highway robbery perpetrated by corrupt people who do have food on the table. It is loathsome.
• In Mexico, film crews are made up of working class people. Here, at least our film crew was made up of what seemed to me to be well educated, middle class kids. These kids were utterly professional, serious and hardworking. They did not seem to possess a sense of entitlement. This is interesting to me.
• I had a conversation with my client in which we agreed that upper class Mexicans are the most insufferable of all upper class people in the world. (Let's have a competition!) There may be some exceptions here and there (I know good friends of mine who are fine, fine people), but in general, the rich in Mexico are truly insufferable (compared to for instance the Venezuelans, who are as filthy rich, but much more personable). I think this comes from living in a society where the downtrodden are servile and the rich are haughty and entitled, and they do everything in their power not to resemble anything that may confuse them with the humans around them. I'm sure the Argentinian rich are a close second, or at a dead heat, though. It's just a hunch.
• Argentinians have the reputation in Latin America for being arrogant and superior. The people I met, none of them were like that. Quite the contrary: open, curious, intelligent, fun, warm. However, there are certain people in the service sector that seem to resent to have to serve (just as there are a lot of extremely gracious people). A waiter who refuses to come to your aid (when you are thirsting for a drink). Or a waiter who is too clever by half. A caterer who doesn't even pull the the saran wrap from the plates, or even gives you a plate so you can make your own sandwich. I bet it is not malicious; it is something else, an itsy bitsy thorn on the side, a tiny little pinprick of unnecessary pride.
• Once more, because of causes beyond our control, we missed eating the fabled Persicco ice cream.
This means we have to go back. I did have a dulce de leche with chocolate chips at Freddo. Great, but quite a handful of sugar after several licks.
One thing I do love about Argentinians is that they have an enormous sweet tooth and they eat sweet stuff for breakfast. I had the most wonderful homemade jams at the breakfast buffet in the hotel.
And they do these little sweet croissants called medialunas which are the reason I am starving myself today.

1 comment:

  1. katya5:39 PM

    eh, confess, you just liked being the only girl on the shoot, wink wink

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