I finally settle down to right a much-overdue blog post with a cup of café con leche and a piece of peanut butter/banana toast. It all seems pretty normal until you realize that the peanut butter is of the coveted “Tedy” brand, arguably one of the most delicious spreads in history that, as you should now know, doesn’t exist in Argentina. How did a lowly study abroad student encounter this liquid gold? Well, it is a long, delicious story. For the sake of my fingers and your attention span, I’ll skip the planning process and jump right into the heart of the adventure.
“Hola Mr. Morgan Brown…”
I looked up from a leather couch in the Fierro Hotel in Palermo Hollywood to see my father, Mr. Lawrence “Sam” Brown grinning back at me. It was 4:00 on Friday afternoon, and he had just arrived in Buenos Aires that morning after 5 days of wine-tasting and work-schmoozing in the Mendoza province. He had one night in the capital city before flying back to the States on Friday, and since I was in the area, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea for us to meet up and say hi. I mean, someone had to show him the way around.
I stood up and gave him a warm embrace, at which time he informed me that the cabbie that had driven him here from lunch still needed paying, as he was out of pesos (damn gringos). We settled our debt and went up to his room at the Fierro to drop off his stuff, including a black duffel bag full of about 15 pounds of emergency Argentine survival supplies: books, clothing, a Nook, a cowboy hat embroidered with the Catena winery symbol, Siracha hot sauce, money, and a 3 POUND tub of Tedy creamy peanut butter. Not too shabby.
But, we didn’t have time to wast drooling over nutty goodness; there was a lot of city to cover before dinner. Me and my handsome sidekick caught a bus towards Recoleta, my home neighborhood. Here I was able to give Dad a quick tour of the Ateneo Bookstore (based in a theater), Santa Fe Ave, and my apartment. We exchanged cheek kisses (the classic Argentine greeting) and some snappy Spanglish with María, my host mom, before pointing our feet towards Plaza de Mayo, where the capital building is located. A pit stop at a local cafe gave Dad the chance to recharge his travler’s batteries with a café doble, and before we knew it, we were admiring the Casa Rosada, lit up with bright pink lights to fight off the looming darkness of a fading evening.
I should pause for a moment here to say that by this point, I was on Cloud Nine. I had the opportunity to meet my father in the capital city of a foreign country, and be his personal tour guide. It was at the same time so strange and so normal, like so much of this trip has been. I take a nonchalant air in retelling it only because it would get repetitive to constantly voice how special each little experience was to me, from ordering coffee in Spanish to taking the Subte back from Plaza de Mayo.
With nighttime fully upon us, Dad and I returned to the Palermo section of town to meet the rest of his group for dinner. We had an hour to kill, so I took the liberty to buy us a couple of Stella’s from a local pizza/empanada restaurant on a side street of Palermo. We found a comfy spot outside, underneath the heat lamps of an overhead awning. It was the perfect place to enjoy the bubbly goodness while watching the city pass us by and dissecting the great mystery that is life. By the time our glasses were empty, it was time to head back to the Fierro and freshen up for the much-anticipated dinner.
As of 9:35, we found ourselves in a chauffeured van headed towards to San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The Brown boys were 2 in a group of 8. The remaining 6 were an eclectic mix of men and women from varying areas of the food and wine business. They were all completely unique, and yet all shared that same “traveler’s gene” that I talk so much about- happy, bright, excited, passionate, flexible, and welcoming are a few of the traits I can attribute to that common quality. By the time we took our seats in the dining room of El Baqueano restaurant, you would have thought I’d known these people for 30 days instead of 30 minutes. The dining room of El Baqueano, which is one of the most prestigious restaurants in Baires, practically exuded serenity. A mix of dim, red and yellow light made the row of plates and wine glasses on our table sparkle. There were seats for maybe 20 people, but apart from our group of 8 there were only 2 other diners, tucked into a quiet corner on the other side of the room. It was as if we rented out our own little section of the city for a night…which I suppose we had. We took our seats with all the anticipation of patrons before a grand theatrical performance. Only instead of programs, we had small printed menus, describing each dish that the chef had in store for us…..
It is here that I’ll have to pause the story. I would love to keep giving overly-embellished details of my weekend, but I don’t think that the professors at Belgrano accept a blog entry as an excuse for absence. If you’d like, look for the rest of the story sometime tonight or tomorrow- coming soon to a computer screen near you!