In Search of the Elusive Pool & La Bamba – Buenos Aires, Argentina

15 Feb

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Being scorching hot in Buenos Aires we thought we’d spend today at one of the public pools we’d heard about through our hostel. Our trip began with a subway ride to Palermo and a walk south to find a place we could rent bikes from as the pool was quite a long walk and we wanted to maximize our bronzing time.

We came across a group of people riding what looked like yellow rental bicycles and stopped to ask them where they’d rented them from. It turned out that one of the riders owned a bike tour company and without a tour you couldn’t rent bikes from him.

With no other options in sight we decided to brave the walk, past the zoo, over the highway and then under the highway, past the airport and finally found a road leading to some kind of convention centre. We took a gamble but were turned away by the parking attendant who let us know that the only pool was quite a bit further, in fact it was off the map and we would need to take a taxi there.

Since our attempt to find the pool we’d heard about was unsuccessful and we were relatively close to Palermo we opted to cut our losses in search of a salad place, b-Blue, that had come highly recommended by our fellow Torontonians we’d met in Mendoza. Being so hot out we were all craving cool, crisp veggies – something we haven’t had nearly enough of here, unless you count cucumber and avocado.

b-Blue was relatively easy for us to find and the atmosphere is a less crowded and much brighter version of Toronto’s Fresh. I liked it immediately from the atmosphere alone, and when we’d settled in and had a change to sneak a peek at other people’s food I was hoping it would taste as good as it looked. Lucky us, it did!

After we’d finished we headed – where else – to a gelato place down the street. I ditched my usual selection of fruit flavoured cold treats and opted for sweet chocolaty goodness.

Gelato in-hand we walked around Palermo window-shopping and looking at what the different restaurants offered and at what prices.

Tired of walking and tired in general we headed to a patio, Utopia, to share 2 beers. While most groups around us were talking and laughing all 4 of us pulled out our books and sat doing what we wish we could have done poolside. I’m sure it looked odd, but we were beat from the sun and were saving our energy for a concert we’d planned to go to that night.

The concert started at 8pm and we guessed we’d have to leave Millhouse by 7pm to get there with enough time to get tickets and score spots close to the stage so we were only home for an hour before we had to leave again. We had just enough time for a quick cold shower each and to put on a clean-ish pair of clothes, grab a slice of pizza on the corner at La Continental and hop in a taxi.

La Bamba de Tiempo, the band we were headed to see, is made up solely of percussion musicians and plays a variety of percussion instruments (from the bongos to cowbell) every Monday night in an outdoor parking lot-like venue, that actually used to be an oil factory, called the Konex. The crowd was a good mix of locals and tourist ranging in age from late teens or early twenties to mid to late thirties.

The music was amazing and watching the performance live was obviously even better. It was incredible to see 17 musicians improvising together, constantly switching ‘conductors’ and using over 75 hand signals to lead the other members of the band. Special guests were brought out to compliment some of the songs and included a trumpet player, accordion player, guitar player and singer.

Towards the end of the 2-hour performance the crowd started a mosh-pit – I partly attribute it to the music because it was so incredibly amazing and partly to the 1L beers that are for sale at a very good price (25 pesos which is between $4 and $5 CDN).

People took off their shirts, threw their partially full 1L cups of beer high into the air so that they would soak the crowd. One guy in his early 20s with an impressive blond curly mullet of a hairdo got so into moshing that he elbowed his friend giving him a bloody nose. The next time I looked he was furiously making out with some girl, and when we went to leave he was still bouncing around where the pit had been.

After the concert we booked it up a nearby street to head off the crowd and grab a cab back to Millhouse. We had a beer in the common area before calling it a night.

If you’re planning a trip to Buenos Aires and like live music at all, La Bamba on a Monday night is something to put on your must-see list!

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