La Puta Qué?

Did you ever read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne?  We skipped over to Uruguay for the day and saw a tagged paint mare: you can see PUTA in capital letters on her neck.  I think you all know what that means!  We didn’t notice any apparent misbehaving tendencies at first glance but then horses can really fool you!

la muy puta yegua

Along came a casual tropical cowboy who proceeded to mount up and move the group of foragers a few yards down the road.  It was a pretty day and I was happy to see some horses just hanging out along a back road.  We were cruising on a junky old moto that we rented for $18 for the day, electrical issues, bald tires, no speedometer, no deposit, no problem!

local cowboy

The day trip across the river is known as the expat shuffle: you take a ferry across the river, go thru customs in Uruguay (what a joke that is!) and, depending on your inclinations, stroll the quaint colonial era pueblo, shop till you drop, do the waterfront pub crawl, climb to the top of the faro (lighthouse), head for the beach, or (most popular option) get on a bus to Montevideo.

After the hour trip across the Río de la Plata, we disembarked and walked into town.  We passed an ultramodernist new tourist center, not quite finished yet.  We set off the alarm when we walked up and onto the deck…  howdy folks!  the gringos are here!

tourist trap

Colonia is a pretty tourist town.  Some folks joke about it being a “dead” town and I see their point but, heck, Uruguay needs all the help ($$) it can get!   The only thing they have going for them are some cool beaches and hot soccer players.  There’s a sweet harbor on the river, a lighthouse (we made it all the way to the top!) shops, cafés, restaurants, boutique hotels, tour guides.  We skipped the tour.  I’m the official tour guide, naturally.  Who else would have noticed the horses?

Lucky us, it was a beautiful balmy day at the lighthouse.  We climbed it.

el faro

We circled it.

the bullring

Ben was happy as a clam to be riding a scooter, he didn’t care where we went!  (He says it’s not quite like his F4, though.)  Here he is at the top of the lighthouse, with helmet:

At the beach…

did we miss the tsunami warning?

strolling around town…

checking out the microcar

We saw picturesque old adobes that reminded me of San Juan Bautista, back home in California.

we take VISA!!

bisected house

Café El Santo

pretty stone facade with jasmine

Okay, is it bothering you that this post is turning into Better Homes & Gardens?  Sunset South?  Well, too bad, cause I just love old historic buildings!  especially when they’re kept up nicely…  here’s some more:

Posada Plaza Mayor

Adobe colorado

old Mission

No lack of cool old cars to cruise those cobblestone Colonia streets:

what make is it? somebody help me out!

10 oct. Flash:  a Studebaker by all accounts!  Thanks to April in New Mexico, Jack in San Luis Obispo, and Arlene in Santa Barbara!  You guys rock!

awesome truck from the... 40s?

And a café-bar by the old stone lighthouse.  How cool is that?  The hungry thirsty hordes had not yet gathered when I took this picture:  Or they got stuck listening to the droning nazi tour guide.

ye old lighthouse watering hole

When I finally stepped off the back of the moto my knees were weak, my feet were numb, and it felt like my hipbones needed resetting.  Kinda like getting thrown off a rank horse and trying to get back on your feet so you can go catch the sonofabitch!   We walked a few steps past that amazing stone tower onto the wharf, past the yacht club office, and onto the terrace of the Yacht Club restaurant.  What a view!

Are we having fun yet?

Oops, forgot to put a view in.  Here we go.

the view from the top

We ate seafood pasta, salad, a bottle of wine, dessert… the works!  A sweet getaway. Towards the end of the afternoon the herd instinct kicked in, we answered a few mournful cow calls, and allowed ourselves to be herded back to the mother ship.  The ferry, that is, the S.S. Colonia Express.  As we closed in on the big beautiful city, I took a picture of this old slow-sinking rustbucket still moored in La Boca harbor.

the wabi-sabi mother ship

Being away from town for a day was no big deal, but I can well imagine the desperation one might feel being gone too long from the glorious night-life of this throbbing music lover’s paradise.  Seriously, we find music everywhere we go!  Friday evening we walked into a local restaurant, and found ourselves listening to a young woman singing arias from Carmen and La Bohéme, with live piano and violin accompaniment.  Opera never fails to bring tears to my eyes!  Live music is a total body experience, you feel it with all your senses, not just your ears.  Every molecule you own vibrates with sound, sinking deeply into body and spirit.  Positively transcendent!

Yesterday, having coffee after our tango class at a café we frequent by Plaza San Martín, we opened our eyes and saw that they have Friday night Jazz, and live Tango on Saturdays. The cultural richness of Buenos Aires is really inspiring.  So many young musicians, you see them walking around with instrument cases, getting on the subte or collectivo. We saw these guys on the subway today on our way home from a solidarity festival at Parque Avellaneda.

subte músicos

Ben’s spanish teacher plays percussion and trombone in a band we saw today at the park, Orkesta Popular San Bomba.  Way to go!  They have a great singer and a great Latin sound, but their sound system was a complete disaster.  We will check them out again when they get their act together!

Orkesta San Bomba at Parque Avellaneda

Somehow the future isn’t quite as scary anymore, seeing the next generation so present and engaged in the creation of a world culture that knows no borders, and whose currency is music!   Speaking of young musicians, we’ve been to some great live music at various places…  this is CAFF (Club Atlético Fernández Fierro), a former auto repair shop.  It has the funkiest club entrance ever, like out of a Batman movie:

Yes, that’s me in my spring Batgirl outfit.  Here are a couple of shots from the show at CAFF:

Dema y su Orquesta Petitera

at CAFF

Dema is hysterically funny and was wildly applauded.  He’s kind of a cross between Tom Waits and Giancarlo Giannini in Swept Away (a film by Lina Wertmüller).  Jaded but innocent, desperate yet full of macho bravura.   Check him out on uTube!

One of our favorites: Orquesta Victoria at Café Vinilo:

Orquesta Típica La Victoria

Orchestra La Victoria has a piano, clarinet, cello, contrabajo, 2 bandoneons, 3 violins, and two singers (Fuertes and Varnerín) who do amazing tango duets, just like the singers of  the old days!  (Listen to Pregonera, Pastora, Remolino… sung by the duo of Carlos Dante and Julio Martel, Orquesta Alfredo de Angelis.)  This youthful tango orquesta plays mostly classic tango but also some nuevo, in the genre of Piazzolla.  They are way cool and we love them!

Well, friends, despite lots of late night dancing, serious lack of sleep, tango classes, yoga class, Italian class, running in the park, and walking, walking, walking all over town… not to mention spending hours writing and posting my blog…  I seem to be thriving!  must be Ben’s good cooking!  Oh, and my favorite gelato flavors of the month? … dolcatta, tramontana, and dulce de leche granizado… and zabayón!  and the delightful spring weather!

Please don’t forget to send your Tango Addiction stories to me at <runninghawk.willow@gmail.com>.  I now have my very own web address: <willowtango.me>.   Click the “follow” button!   Ciao from Buenos Aires!

Willow at El Santo

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