Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cafés (a kind of day 1)

actually SUNDAY JULY 21:

Two weeks into the BsAs adventure and I'm finally putting some thoughts onto “paper”.  A bit of a shame, since the impressions I formed in those first days will probably the most vivid of the whole trip. By that token, though, maybe they will also be more lasting (and recoverable.)

Easy to say why I'm only beginning to write about BsAs after two weeks: two big projects, each of which took one week.  First, finding a long-term apartment here, and second, a NY-based project I’d committed to before I left.  This second project was fine, but I'm relieved it’s over— the apartment hunt of the first week thrust me intensively into the textures of the streets and neighborhoods of the city— and naturally, (fascinatingly) into the insides of probably a dozen different apartments, and into conversation with their various dueños or gerantes.  Then, having found a really great place, I was forced to retreat from the city into it for a week.  But today was the first day of the rest of my life and I could plunge back into BsAs life!

Chilly and a bit rainy, the kind of midwinter day that porteños like to complain about, but no matter.  I walked the length of the San Telmo Defensa street market— our apartment is ON Defensa street, and the sound of amazing (and some not so amazing) bands playing all day traveled up to the windows.  I have to say, if today's market and crowds were typical of a wintry off-season Sunday, by the end of the year, it will be a zoo downstairs.  The scene downstairs was a lot like a lot of street markets around the world— fun to wander, but one wonders who actually buys all those crafts.  Still, it would be foolhardy to leave the country without having bought a 50-peso sturdy leather belt.

For the most part, though, the weather forced the day into a classic (so one hears) BsAs model: lounging in cafés and reading. 

In the morning (having fortuitously run out of milk for coffee at home), I found my way to La Poesía It was as lovely as I’d heard, full but never packed in such a way that it felt like one should free up one's table.   It actually did house a number of grizzled old men reading newspapers and greeting each other heartily who looked, if not like poets, at least like intellectuals.

Then after the market walk and a veggie pan relleno for lunch, café phase two: Le Marais.  Completely different, Paris-inspired (obvs), gay-friendly to judge by the discreet rainbow stickers about, brightly-colored and as brand new as La Poesía is proudly old.   But in some ways exactly the same: a good latte and pleasant table from which I didn’t feel pressed to budge.

(I was reading the MS of Nick's new book.  It's great.  Very exciting.  And it turns out the old Kindle is great for note-taking.)

Anyway, this is a blog, not a diary, and I have no intention of making each entry such a pedestrian list of "what I did today."  For this first one, though, that’s what I wanted to capture.  And now, back at home, the rain is really audible on the big skylight… the drops sound sharp and thin, though maybe this is a function of the plastic they're landing on.  In any case, not thick pelting drops, but a million little needles, and it goes with the chill.

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