I woke around 10:00 in the morning, not having had enough sleep due to the very late dance party Lisa and I had attended the night before. The bed in Kristin's apartment was a big, soft cloud that I didn't want to leave. Lisa and I walked to the Buena Onda Yoga studio in Las Cañitas, a sub-neighborhood within Palermo, where Lisa, incredibly, had the energy to do yoga. I sat in the cafe, Natural Deli, below the yoga studio and ordered coffee and breakfast: a crispy ham and cheese sandwich on ciabatta, which came with a chocolate vanilla swirl budín (pudding). Tired and not thinking clearly, I thought that I would be getting the creamy kind of pudding you find in children's lunch boxes. In reality, it was a English-style pudding, a dense, semi-sweet pastry... with a dusting of mold. I brought the mold to the waitress' attention and she apologetically exchanged it for a chocolate brownie. If you're going to eat poorly for breakfast, you might as well do it right. As I ate, I suddenly noticed that I had acquired several mosquito bites on my face.
During breakfast I took some time to reflect on what my experience of Buenos Aires had been so far. I was enjoying the fact that we were now staying in the Palermo apartment because I felt better connected to the rest of the city, especially where transportation was concerned. This was, in part, due to the neighborhood's physical proximity to the city center. It is affluent and its residents' needs are better fulfilled in every way compared to the average porteño (resident of Buenos Aires). There are more bus stops within shorter distances, a greater choice of quality restaurants, and numerous markets and boutiques.
After the yoga class, Lisa and I walked to a nearby train stop - I wouldn't even call it a station - to catch a ride to Tigre. I would have missed the stop entirely if I had had to find it on my own. It was really just a grassy, litter-covered track with paved platform on either side. There was no obvious signage or even a ticket booth. We didn't have to wait long for our train and it only took about an hour to get there. Tigre is a small town north of Buenos Aires proper on the Paraná Delta. It is a local getaway for porteños where families can picnic, shop, or enjoy one of the many boat tours on the Delta.
Tigre was pretty, but not as breathtaking as my tour book and everyone else had made it out to be. I appreciated how cool it was on the waterfront because it had been a particularly muggy day. The water was choppy and brownish and lined with a mix of deep green deciduous trees that I could not identify, along with countless palms. All manner of boat traffic sputtered up and down the river.
Neat old houses lined the streets, many of which had been converted to B&Bs or rowing clubs. I couldn't believe how many rowing clubs there were!
Many people brought picnics or bought food at one of the many restaurants there were to choose from and then established themselves in the grass along the waterfront. Although there was no shortage of eating establishments, the majority of them only sold pizza or empanadas. We stopped into one, ordered some decent empanadas and continued down the waterfront until we found a bench facing the water.
After we had finished eating, we backtracked and crossed the bridge to check out some interesting looking buildings we had seen from across the river during our walk. Then we discussed trying to find the local flea market. Just then there was a loud clap of thunder accompanied by low, close lightning. The rain began to fall more quickly. We decided it was probably a better idea to return to the train station and we were right. We got caught in the downpour and our clothes were soaked through by the time we got there. We bought our train tickets and stood on covered platform, watching the rain fall harder and harder, with very nearby lightning and deafening thunder often chiming in. We waited what felt like a long time on the platform with a large crowd. When the train finally arrived, everyone pushed violently into the train cars trying to get a seat. Our politeness did us no favors in that regard.
Halfway through the ride, I began to feel a terrible intestinal urgency. I told Lisa we needed to get off the train at the next stop. We got out in the middle of nowhere and I shuffled into what now constitutes a three-way tie for the dirtiest public restroom I have ever seen. The other contenders include the ladies' room at the Jaén bus station and the one at White Horse Temple in Luoyang. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I shuddered at the sight and smell of my surroundings. The concrete floor was covered in dirt-blackened fluids, toilet paper and miscellaneous trash (newspaper in particular - probably a substitute for toilet paper). No one had bothered to flush the toilets in quite some time I wasn't even sure it was possible to do so. By now I was in a cold sweat and had to quickly select the stall that constituted the lesser of the evils so that I could relieve my body of its woes. I touched as few surfaces as possible and washed my hands as thoroughly as is possible in the absence of soap. I was feeling better, but not good. I emerged from the foul restroom with what must have been a horrified look on my face because Lisa asked what was wrong. I began to describe the facilities to her but she waved her hand to cut me off, shaking her head and closing her eyes as if to block out the mental image. "I don't want to know," she said.
We waited for the next train and completed our journey back to Palermo. Rain sprinkled us the entire walk home and, just as we reached the door, thunder, lightning and a deluge of rain began and stayed all night. I went to bed with a tummy ache.