Adventures in Argentina

I´ve only been in Buenos Aires for a little over 24 hours, but already quite a lot has happened.

When I arrived yesterday, tired and dishevelled after an 11 hour flight from New York and a struggle to get any Argentinean currency at the airport (all the ATMs were empty, so I had to get a credit card advance), the Astoria Hotel on Avenida de Mayo, that I´d made a telephone reservation with a week earlier, told me that not only did they not have my reservation, but that they were completely full because of the forthcoming Easter holidays! Fortunately I was able to find a room for at least 2 nights across the street in the Novel Hotel.

Yesterday I met my soon-to-be-married friends Chris & Martina for lunch, then went shopping on my own on Avenida Florida for a leather jacket. I eventually found a place that would make a jacket to my exact specifications — I´m going to pick it up later today. I also bought some new trainers, and watched and videoed some buskers doing tango outside a C&A store.

In the evening Chris, Martina & I had dinner with some Argentinean friends of Martina´s, then went to a bar in the Palermo Viejo neighbourhood (where Nan and I stayed when we were here in 2004).

Nan´s arrival today was quite dramatic; I was having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe next door to our hotel when she arrived, so she joined me with all her luggage and ordered some food. After a while, a short stocky guy approached us and started asking for directions; I said “no hablo espanol” and Nan (who, conveniently, is Head of Spanish at a comprehensive school in Sheffield!) said that she didn´t know where it was. But the guy seemed strangely reluctant to leave, and then another guy appeared and also asked directions — it was a bit odd, and after they left Nan immediately noticed that her handbag had gone. I ran around the corner to see the guy who had asked directions walking away in the distance, but he didn´t have her bag with him.

However, across the street, Nan´s handbag was unattended on the corner of the street — it later transpired that one of the waiters at the cafe had seen the theft, shouted and given chase to the guy who had snatched the bag. The thief dropped the bag in order to make his getaway, but we could see from across the street that it had been opened.

Nan was worried that her passport would have been taken, but when the waiter returned with the bag, we were relieved to discover that nothing whatsoever was missing! Thanks to the quick thinking and response of the waiters, a major inconvenience had been avoided; they told us that the thieves were Peruvians, and were presumably familiar with their methods. Needless to say, we were very grateful to the waiters, and I left them a very big tip!

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