It rained pretty much all night and all day. I had neither waterproof shoes nor a raincoat so I stayed in a wrote while waiting for my first interaction with Argentine laundry service. The way it works is you call a lady (who presumably runs a laundromat) and she comes and picks up your dirty clothes. She washes, dries and folds them and then brings them back to you and you pay her. On that particular day, she was coming to pick up our dirties. She arrived, rang the bell, and I fought with the metal door so that I could give her the huge, unwieldy bag of our clothes. She told me they'd be ready by the following evening.
When Lisa got home from her class we took our daily afternoon nap. Upon rising we took the metro and then a very slow, crowded bus halfway to San Telmo. We only stayed on the bus for as long as we could stand and ended up getting off and walking faster than the bus progressed down Avenida de Mayo. Once we arrived in San Telmo, Lisa pointed me in the direction of a cute, bohemian cafe called Café La Poesía, where I would dine, read and write while she went to yoga. This cafe is a historically significant site in the city, having been the regular hangout for many of Argentina's important literary figures during the 1980s.
The cafe was full, but not crowded, and a mixture of various accents of Spanish and English rose into the air.
The interior was framed in deep brown wooden beams. Artwork and photographs of mostly local celebrities, especially tango stars, covered the walls.
A pretty black, upright piano inlaid with mother of pearl leaned against the exterior wall.
The music playing over the restaurant's sound system was American rock from the 90s, so I felt right at home with the likes of Radiohead and Nirvana. Hendrix and Dylan also made appearances.
I was starving by the time I sat down, so I ordered a burger and fries, which came with a hardboiled egg, ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce. The beef was just the right color pink, salty and slightly gamey.
I hate sitting alone in restaurants and, even after taking a painstakingly long time to finish my meal, I still had 45 minutes to kill before Lisa would come rescue me. Thanks to the Ministry of Culture, who had installed a rickety bookshelf next to the piano, I had plenty of readable things to keep me occupied. I ordered a cup of tea and grabbed a book of poetry by Inés Barrio called "Mi vida, los caminos". Therein I found a poem I liked and copied it down to share with Lisa later (published with permission from the author):
Voy saliendo a pulmón
de las profundidades del mar negro.
Me desprendo tentáculos y algas.
Poco de luz se filtra,
Primero la cabeza
las dos manos abiertas,
respiro a bocanadas
macerada la piel
y el alma macerada.
Penosamente salgo, por fin.
Ya no te amo.
- Inés Barrio
I come up fighting
from the depths of the black sea.
I peel off tentacles and algae.
A little light filters through,
I am coming up.
First my head
both of my hands, open,
I gulp mouthfuls of air
my skin waterlogged
and my soul waterlogged.
With great effort I come out, at last.
I do not love you anymore.
- Inés Barrio, translated by Marie S. Garcia
Lisa found me and we rounded the corner to Café Rivas to meet up with some friends for Gringo Stand-Up. The show took place in the intimate upper floor of the cafe.
This weekly show features comedians from Argentina and abroad who provide laughs in mostly English (or something like it), employing a variety of styles and material. The performers that evening included Francesca Fiorentini, Ana Carolina, Kate Sedgwick, Félix Buenaventura, and Daniel Tunnard. We had a great time and laughed a lot. I felt sorry for the couple sitting in the front row who, once the first comedian discovered that they were on their first date, became the subject of much public speculation about whether or not they were going to have sex that evening. Moral of the story: do not sit in the front row at a stand-up show.