November 2011

We come for the food, but we dessert on the city. Karimé and I arrive from Colonia with empty stomachs, and within an hour we’re at the parrilla in the Mercado del Puerto gorging on steak, chicken, and bottles of wine.

Montevideo teems at its center on a hot, late spring day. Yet for all its bustle, it’s slower and more self-contained than its larger rival across La Plata. We have no plans, just killing time in the Ciudad Vieja. By nightfall, we’re hungry again and ready for another bottle.





Colonia del Sacremento, Uruguay
November 2011

Colonia del Sacremento is where wealthy Argentines go for the weekend. An hour by ferry across the River Plate, it is a little coastal city of cobblestone streets, fishing boats, yachts, ancient city walls, and a lighthouse built against the ruins of a Spanish convent. In daytime, the city has some tourist-trap qualities, as many people come for the day and leave on the last ferry. There are lots of lunch places catering to day-trippers with poor food and indifferent service, t-shirt shops and bars advertising “happy hour” specials, and tour buses parked along the back streets.

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El Ombú
San Antonio de Areco, Argentina
November 2011

Some schedules are worth keeping: bus schedules to outlying places, for example. But hangovers play havoc with punctuality. Karimé and I are moving slowly.

The Retiro bus terminal is several blocks behind the sprawling train station, which doesn’t seem to have many trains. We’ve made bad time, past the helter-skelter sidewalk vendors stretched out along the smoggy avenue, then up the escalator and into the soulless curving tunnels through which you enter the terminal. We have to search for the ticket office we need, then there is a line. Everything is taking longer than it should.

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Travels With Karimé

Buenos Aires, Argentina
November 2011

Tonight I white-boy danced with a beautiful tango dancer, while Karimé took pictures and laughed her head off. An evening of necessary robotourism after a mad dash across the city to make the curtain.

We spent the day on our feet — Retiro station, Recoleta, Palermo, and Evita’s tomb in a cemetery of generals who died with way too much money. Karimé thinks she could live in a house the size of these tombs, plans to move into one someday. The rest of the afternoon, we swanned about art museums in the better side of town.

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The woman in the waiting room is anxious. She leans on her cane and looks across at the friend who drove her to the doctor’s office today. She is around sixty and heavyset, with swollen ankles. She has the kind of coppery hair with gray at the temples that betrays repeated hair coloring that is beginning to fade.

“Your ex-husband had this same operation on his back, didn’t he?” she asks her friend. She speaks with an accent, not Spanish, but possibly Greek, Italian, or Portuguese. Her friend nods but her brow tightens. The reminder seems to be a sore subject with her.

“Was he able to lift things afterward?” the woman asks her friend. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to lift things.”

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