February 9, 2015
Buenos Aires, Argentina,
Suzi and I decided to look at the lights of Buenos Aries. We arrived at the Obelisk in the Plaza of the Republic, which sits in the middle of July 9 Avenue, the widest avenue in BA just before 7 PM and were greeted by a garish advertising sign advertising Coke FM, an on line radio station. We walked a little past a grand café with all sorts of pastries displayed in the window and footsteps on the sidewalk showing tango moves. This was a tango café where couples sip coffee and dance. We had been in a tango café for lunch. We each had a steak, being this is Argentina, but noticed that there was no salt on the table. We asked for some and learned that because so many Argentinians die of heart attacks the government passed a law banning restaurants and cafes from putting salt out on the table. It is available on request. I requested some. The waiter brought a shaker and sat and watched as I salted my steak and potatoes. When Suzi and I finished shaking he immediately snatched up the shaker and took it away. The government may not be able to control the cholesterol intake of its beef eating citizens but it can monitor public consumption of salt.
Sunset was at around 7:50. We skipped this tango café and waited for the evening lights to come on in an art deco style grand café. I enjoyed the house special coffee with cream mixed with chocolate and brandy.
At 8 PM we went out and were greeted the sound of shutters rolling down and slamming shut. We went back toward the Tango Café and it was closing down just as we got there. I am not used to cafes in big cities closing at 8. Walking the diagonal between the city’s two main squares, the Plaza of the Republic and the Plaza de Mayo again and again we heard the sound of doors slamming and locking. The famed Buenos Aires nightlife was not happening here.
We found a walking street with lots of people and headed down that street. That street closes at 8:30. We were shuttered out again with just a few restaurants remaining open. We walked to the Plaza de Mayo. It was a nice warm evening but most of the street lights were out. A protest encampment of veterans who feel they are being ill-treated by the government and the police in riot gear watching them was most of the activity on the plaza. The Plaza is a traditional place for political action. During the Peron years Evita addressed the crowds from the balcony of the Pink Palace, the presidential palace, in the square. (The joke is that the two political parties at the time had the colors red and white and pink was the only compromise they could come up with.) The Palace is lit in a strange and garish pink. Across the square the Cathedral, with a classic Greek revival front and a dome behind is lit in a way where you see the Greek front and the shadow of the dome on projected on a building across the way. At night the square emits a very strange vibe. We ran with it for a few minutes, decided to call it a night, hailed a cab and went back to the ship.