Day Trip to Colonia, UY

On the Calle de Suspiros is the tiny Galería de Suspiros which, like all the other buildings on this Portuguese-style cobble-stone ‘street of sighs’, used to be a brothel. The paint has faded since last year when I first was in Colonia but the interior, which I had never seen, comes alive with floor to…

Retail Inefficiency

I admit that I’m a bit Obsessive/Compulsive when it comes to efficiency. I don’t see any point in expending more time and energy than is required to get a job done. This appears to be a city, country, culture (not sure how far it goes) built on inefficiency. I’ve gotten used to what appear to…

El Día del Amigo*

In a city that worships friendship, connecting regularly is the norm among most porteños. In past years, fear of incarceration or death kept Argentines from gathering and there was little to celebrate while loved ones were disappearing. But, with increased political and economic stability, el Día del Amigo has become another excuse to exchange small…

El Zanjón* / San Telmo

It is surreal to me that I would be living on the primero piso of a conventillo on Calle Defensa where nuns once nursed those dying of cholera in the 1800s. This is one of 500 tenement houses in the San Telmo barrio. We are situated between the Edea Galeria (where last August I had…

Travel Advisory

When you mention that you’re traveling to South America you get looks of concern for your safety. Banditos, guerrillas and drug lords will no doubt have their eyes on you. La policia will stop you at blockades and threaten you for cash. You will be expected to bribe your way out of every confrontation. Keep…

¡Qué Quilombo!

I like the word. Even though it’s Lunfardo, you’re supposed to further distort it in polite company—bolomqui—or something like that—because although it pretends to translate to “warehouse,” the actual translation is “whorehouse,” but it’s used to indicate a “shitstorm”—or plainly—What a mess! Yes, most Lunfardo is that complicated . . . and you thought you…

Recoleta Cemetery

At 1800 hours the bell tolls and the gate to La Ciudad de los Muertos is closed. They lock up the dead. They put chains and padlocks on the door to each eternal home—to keep . . . someone . . . from getting out—or . . . someone . . . from getting in.…

Argentina’s Black Roots

You’ve seen her at a milonga: brassy, bottle-blonde hair. Between too much sun, too many cigarettes, and too much plastic surgery, it’s difficult to determine her age—maybe 50 leaning toward 70 trying to look 30. She’s wearing, shall we say … something “memorable” (although you can’t remember exactly what now) and it reveals her tucks…

Caribbean Cruise

The best perk I ever had as a Travel Agent was a two week Caribbean Cruise that I took with my (then) finance, for only $200 each; I think we were just paying the taxes. If only for that one trip, the job was worth it. I’m not fond of large bodies of water; I…