A beautiful day for a long walk along the wealthy section of Libertador to the botanical gardens, then along the road named after Argentina's venerated writer JL Borges (he lived on this street) through Palermo, then back through commercial middle class neighborhood along Avenida Cordoba, and then back a mi casa along Pueyrredon, whose spelling David has to look up whenever he writes it.
Along the way, many real estate vendors. As in any large city, there are thousands of properties up for sale at any given time. Prices are always in U$S, but because loans are hard to come by, prices have not been bid up as much as in North America. In San Telmo, where A&P&D stayed a year ago, properties go for U$S 800-1200 per square meter. In Recoleta, where David is staying now, for U$S 1500-3000, and in Puerto Madera, a favorite for wealthy Europeans, for U$S 1800-4500. David's apartment, a single bedroom/bathroom of 64 square meters in a nice neighborhood, might go for about U$S 120k.
Before you get excited, you should know that it's difficult to bring large sums of money into Argentina, Byzantine regulations and tax laws can be impossible to navigate, and that when vendors see extranjeros coming, they lick their chops.
A rainy night gave way to a partly cloudy day, good for a walk down the pedestrian shopping streets of Lavalle and Florida. The pedestrian streets are busy, while the automobile streets are almost empty on Sunday, witness the shot of a distant Obelisk from the normally chaotic Calle Corrientes. Bought a couple of mystery novels, of which comprehension is about 30% without a dictionario, and 70% with, and checked to make sure that debit card withdrawals can be made from Citibank accounts without going through Mastercard.
A year ago, David had tried to get money from a cash machine using his BankAmerica debit card. Not a penny. BankAmerica sent no responses to emailed questions. A new Citibank account fixed that - no problems in Hong Kong or Buenos Aires, and no credit card fees when using a Citibank ATM.
David bumped into the remaining two beginner students on Callao in Recoleta, where they rent a 14'th floor apartment via a British agency. They are estadounidenses (USA), teachers from Ithaca, NY, are here for an extended stay, and are expecting guests in a week's time.
This upcoming week may be the last full week in school. David is trying to set up an excursion to the Iguazu cataracts in the north, and intends other touristy silliness for the last week in Argentina.
Another week at school, the washing machine is broken again, there is no hot water, and it seems the porteria is on vacation. These are the golden years. David may have figured out how to get the hot water heater pilot light going. If this web site ends abruptly, you may deduce that he was wrong.
The new teacher is lovely Laura, who is the first profesora to speak in unalloyed portena. This is a little tricky to understand - "s" sounds in the middle of words are aspirated, as in a lisp. The estudiantes are wondering if Laura speaks any English.
There is a restaurant around the corner from the departimento that advertises fish dishes, a rare thing in Buenos Aires. A rare thing in the restaurant, too, since all the fish dishes are crossed off the menu. Although Argentina has a long coastline and an extensive fishing industry, it exports almost all the catch to Europe, South Africa and China. Not so much trade with the Estados Unidos: 1) because the USA is a food exporter itself and 2) because of a reluctance to have economic dependencies on a country whose motives and history with Latin America are very suspect. Venezuela is investing huge amounts of money in Argentina for educational and medical infrastructure. Most small manufactured goods seem to come from China.
But it's still difficult to find fish in a BA restaurant.
David brought a bag of dirty clothes to the local lavadoria. The attendant took one look at D's baseball cap and asked "Wash and dry?" David said "Si." She filled out the tag, "Name?" "Low," responded D, "elle,oh, doble u." She wrote "David". "Gracias," says David. "You're welcome," she replies.
A nice day for a walk to school, David wondering all the while if he might have actually mentioned his first name to the lavadoria attendant. Senility can be full of surprises.
After much haggling with the local travel agent, David booked a trip to Bariloche, a tourist attraction in central west Argentina, for next week, Tuesday through Thursday. It's cooler there, and will probably be a bit rainy, but that's the way it goes.
A bit of BA protest footage here - a group slowing traffic on the very busy Avenida Santa Fe to protest the building of a paper plant on the Uruguayan side of the Rio del Plato.
It rained all day long, llueve jueves. David stayed home from school and watched TV.
El ultimo dia at school. In the last few hours, David could feel the past tense of irregular verbs slipping away. Adios, irregular verbos, get with the programma.
D can't find an internet cafe where he can hook up his computer to a networked printer. He ended up putting all upcoming travel documents on his web site, and the next time he encounters an internet cafe with printer, ...
In the evening, D went with C and J to a populist rally for H, a well known SA politico, who is on a local tour to embarrass G, who is also touring in SA. Your standard political rally, sound of distant thunder coming from the podium, while the audience is playing with their kids, hooking up with old friends, and taking pictures of each other with their cell phones. Everybody is polite and friendly to visiting estadounidenses. No grim faced men with suits, sunglasses and cameras.