22 February 2006
Sao Paulo - Buenos Aires
Woke up at 7pm feeling a little more human. Went out for a stroll, to take in the city, with a strange but welcome solitary feeling. After a couple of weeks of continual group activity its something of a quantum change to suddenly be in a new city entirely by myself. I walked up the massive Avenue 9 Julio and had only gone a couple of blocks when the heavens opened. Thunder and lightning broke out with no sense of restraint and the heavens just opened. It poured. It just bucketed with rain to the point where it was almost impossible to see across the avenue. I took refuge in the door way of a closed bank, but still couldnt avoid getting entirely soaked. It was beautiful, spectacular warm rain with Hollywood bolts of lightning flashing at random intervals. Really quite exhilarating.
Found a cosy corner cafe and dripped my way to a window table so I could dry out but still see the spectacle outside. Word is that the Rolling Stones are doing a video shoot tonight at River Plate Stadium, gawd bless em. Picked at random from the menu and ended up with a salad, a half bottle of red and a steak bigger than my head, all of which ended up costing under ten bucks. The place was busy, so I watched the world go by as I ingested this enormous quantity of protein and gradually dried out.
Wandered back to the hotel after dark through side streets and took in some more of the city. I really like the feel of this place, despite it being a big city, with an odd mix of Spanish influenced architecture and hideous concrete buildings which would be quite at home in Eastern Europe. Noticed a fair quantity of people sleeping rough (no fun in this weather), tucked in doorways and under bridges. One couple had two single mattresses laid out and between them, in the half light, I saw a small child - two years old maybe - bottle feeding himself. Its hard to know how to respond when we live such transient, privileged lives, but I guess we can only live within the life were given. All the same, Ive decided not to complain about anything for at least a week.
Stopped off at the hotel bar for a nightcap and was delighted to find that they serve an Argentine RosÈ Syrrah wine which the winery in its wonderfully under-researched wisdom has chosen to call Wanka. With such a splendid name, it would have been rude not to sample it, so had a go. Wrote a few postcards, which was very 20th century of me, but sometimes e.mail and texting sells a place short. Ill probably be in Australia by the time the cards reach their destinations, but thats hardly the point. With some relief at having reached the end of the day I ordered another glass of Wanka and headed for bed.