Cinacina and the Gauchos
12 - August 8, 1998)
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Nothing very exciting this
week. We had dinner during the week with an Argentine colleague,
Piotrowski, and his
wife, Claudia. He worked with our team in Paris in April 1996 and
Claudia was there with him. She spoke little English at the time,
so she was happy
that Diane showed her around Paris. She was glad to see Diane
again and took a morning off from work on Thursday to spend it with
Diane and show her around Buenos Aires and have lunch. She has
taking English lessons and speaks rather well now. We ate dinner
at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, Rodizio, where they brought the food
to your table on long skewers and
then sliced it and put a piece on your plate. There was lots of
beef and some chicken, a salad bar, dessert and, of course, wine.
All the food was fixed price at $20 (what a deal).
On Saturday, a heavy fog rolled in off the river in the morning and the
city sort of disappeared. It cleared up by noon, so Diane and I
went out and walked around the city until about 5 PM, returned to the
hotel and went to dinner over at Puerto Madero (the refurbished
warehouses). It seems like every restaurant over there is top
notch. We have eaten there four times and have never been
disappointed. Last night is was a place called Happening.
These are very big restaurants and they all have a different, but
great, ambiance. It still sort
of amazes me that the restaurants are pretty empty when we arrive and
by the time we leave between 9-10 PM, they are filling up
rapidly. Argentinians do eat late. The one thing this place
has going for it continues to be the beef and the red wine.
Sunday we all went to an estancia (gaucho ranch), La Cinacina in San
Antonio de Areco, for the day. There were six of us plus lots of
people from other hotels. The ranch was out on the pampas, which
means 'flat land'. We were picked up at the hotel and driven out
to the estancia, about two hours from the city. It was a full day
with LOTS of food, all beef. They greeted us as we arrived with
an emanada (meat pie) as we got off the bus, along with soft drinks or
red wine. There was sausage (both regular, which I ate, and
which I passed), tripe (which I tried and found it actually wasn't too
bad....for those of you who don't know what tripe is, it is the
intestines of the cow), a sirloin, a tenderloin, etc etc. A
little bit of each of those. We also had the opportunity to ride
horses - SLOWLY! It had been more than 30 years since I
was on a horse. For Diane, it was her FIRST TIME EVER on a
horse. It was fun. There was a short musical show and then
some horsemanship demos by the gauchos. They played a game where
they tried to pick off a ring from a piece of leather hanging from a
crossbar under which they rode. What they used to try to pick off
ring was something that resembled a long pencil. Some of
them were quite adept and they were riding at full speed. Then a
couple of 2 man races and pictures and a tour of the museum and then
home. Fun day.
It continues to be an experience to see the way they drive here as we
do our 30 minute taxi ride out to the IBM site in Martinez. The
Buenos Aires city 'black and yellows' aren't any better. These
drivers continue to amaze me with their aggressiveness, yet there
aren't many accidents in the city or out on the highways. If
these guys were to drive like this in Atlanta, traffic would be at a
standstill every day (and Atlanta traffic is bad enough as it
is). I have been here for three weeks now and have yet to see a
traffic snarl caused by an
accident. We chatted about it and we figure the difference is
that almost EVERYONE drives aggressively whereas in the USA only some
people are aggressive and it's probably the non-aggressive folks who
think they have a right to be in the 'fast lane' because they are doing
the speed limit that actually CAUSE the accidents. It does take
some 'getting used to' to SHARE a lane with another car (or bus or
truck). Also, right turn from left lane? - sure, why not.
Don't agree with a red light? - no problem, just go through it.
to pass in the marked lanes? - well, then just use the shoulders.
road is not wide enough at 2-3 lanes? - ok, just temporarily widen it
by sharing a lane with another vehicle.
Pedestrians have absolutely NO rights in BA. There are crosswalks
and lights for pedestrians and that is about the ONLY time you have
'some' rights, but even then one must be careful because the cars will
weave through a crowd of people rather than wait for the last person to
cross. And if you are brave enough to cross against a light, you
better make sure there are NO cars in sight. If a driver sees you
crossing against a light he'll bear down on you to scare the living
out of you. All of this seems to be accepted as a way of life on
the streets. Every evening when we arrive at the hotel, there are
rush hour walkers heading to the train station across the plaza.
These pedestrians know that they better stop and let the taxis up the
hotel driveway. I have seen the driver almost hit people a few
times when someone didn't yield to the taxi. I haven't been in
NYC in many many years, but can NYC be as bad as this?
We have one more week left here and then on to Caracas. I had
asked about whether it would be safe for Diane to go to Caracas with
me, I was asked if she stayed in the hotel or walked around. When
I told my contact in Caracas that she likes to go off on her own and
roam around the cities we visit, he suggested that it would not be safe
for her to do that in Caracas. So, sadly, Diane
will be heading home to Atlanta.
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