South America part 4 – Argentina, Avenida Corrientes, Obelisco

Avenida Corrientes, Avenida 9 de Julio, Obelisco
Avenia Corrientes is the place to buy books and tango CDs, as well as many other things. The only downside is that prices are pretty high due to large influx of tourists. But the selection is excellent!

Right outside one can purchase iguanas and bombillas for drinking mate, exotic stones and a variety of jewelry made from rodocrosita – a pink or sometimes red Argentinian stone. You can also buy rodocrosita in Brasil but in Argentina there is more variety, the jewelry are more elaborate and it is much cheaper. (Guanpas are cups for mate made from either pumpkins or leather, or both, and bombillas are the special straws also for drinking mate)

In reality I am the only mate addict in the family, my husband prefers cocido (same as mate but made from fried leaves) because it is less bitter. According to my husband I like everything bitter. Argentinians prepare mate with a large amount of sugar and I absolutely cannot drink that. When home, I prefer not using sugar at all, to me it only kills the divine taste of mate.
Cocido I also prefer without sugar. Every time my mother-in-law makes me a cup she always gets puzzled as to why I refuse sugar.

-“You are going to drink it just like that?” she asks every single time:)

While walking upand down avenida Corrientes loading up on tango CDs I got huge blisters on my feet and after a while all i could think about was getting a pair of comfortable sandals but could not find anything suitable – either too expensive or did not suit my taste. Finally I found a pair of cute wedge sandals, white, made of leather. They were a bit on expensive side – 160 pesos but I liked them and they were on a huge sale, so I decided not to look any further. When Albert saw them he noded his head with approval “very na zdorov’e” he said using English and Russian together. That’s how he usually expresses his approval in rare cases when he does not critisize something. “That is Ricky Sarcani. Very popular brand – all the movie stars are wearing them. How much did you pay?”

-“160”

-“That’s almost free! You won’t find them for any less than 300”

And he was right, the original price was 320 pesos. At least now I understand why a pair of rather plain sandals was so pricey.

Avenida 9 de Julio is the widest street in Buenos Aires and here are as many stores as on Avenida Corrientes. If you like books, this is the place for you. I got quite a few books in Spanish there.

As far as clothes shopping goes, I was very disappointed – nothing special and everything is majorly overpriced. And we went EVERYWHERE, the good areas and the bad.

As the evening approached, Alberto and Marcella dropped us off a=in the area of telos so we could spend some time in private:)

Telos are the greatest invention ever – especially if you are not married and living with parents, brothers and sisters and have absolutely no place to enjoy some one on one with a loved one. Or, like in case of myself and my husband, visiting from another country and staying at a friends’ house. Telos are cheap and very luxurious, here you have a jaccuzi, mirrors on the ceiling, champagne, various drinks, chocolates etc. And decor is positively beautiful! One of my favorites was a round transparent shower stall in the middle of the room and … well, a chair, I thought of as a massage chair at first…

The best thing to do is rent a room after 9pm, then you can stay all night. Otherwise the rooms are rented for 2-3 hours at a time. The best part is that in the morning they servebreakfast right in the room – lower down the breakfast tray through a special pipe so you never have to meet any servers. This is also done for privacy reasons – i case someone is there with another man’s wife or something like that.

Another thing I think I wrote about previously is that after you enter the room and close the door, if you re-open the door even for a split second, the electricity gets turned off and a maid is sent up to the room for cleaning. And if the portier gets a signal that your door opened more than 5 minutes ago and you still were not seen exiting the building, a security will be sent up to look for you.

The reason is very simple – telos guarantee your safety from theft, as well as being found. For example if a man comes to telo in search of his wife, he will be greatly disappointed – he will be captured as soon as he leaves the room, the system here is comparable to KGB, there is no escaping. Another reason is theft – some would rent a room and then exit and break into cars in the garage. Everything is taken into consideration here.

Next day, after a beautiful night followed by a delicious breakfast we went to the zoo in Palermo. Since the zoo was closed, we just ended up walking around the city. Which served me well since I wanted to buy some presents for everyone back home. My husband always tries to stop me from buying too much, saying there is no need. But I always ignore him and buy not only for my side of the family but also his. Every time we return back from a trip and he calls his mother, she asks him if he brought her anything. His eyes widen, he covers the phone and wispers to me “Do we have anything for my mother?” And every time I do have something for her as well as for his other friends or relatives.

And yet every time I ask during the trip “what are we getting for your mother?”, the answer is always “Nothing, why?”. I never listen though. I know my husband too well for that:)

So this time I was looking for something for our newest family member – my cousin’s wife. Finally I settled on a charm – rodocrosita stone on a woven leather strap that was made right in front of us on the street and I photographed him while he was working on it. Another present was a guanpa with hers and my cousin’s names on it.

By the way, people were gladly allowing me to photograph them, and some tried to get into the picture without even being asked:) Argentinians are very friendly and open.

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