Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The hotel gave us breakfast for two, not three. Fortunately, Sara is not much of a breakfast eater, and the front desk was ready to send up extra orange juice. My suitcase was due to arrive at the hotel, but I would doubtless be gone by then. ¨Queda tranquila¨ was a phrase I heard many times that day, meaning stay calm. I was dropped off at a nice apartment building where I met the mother of my host mom. She was a very affectionate old lady, and after seafeplacing the stuff I had been carrying around with much trepidation for the last three days (I don´t trust the hotel safe), Susana came with me to a placed called Cafe Van Gogh, and the ambiance was very hipster. Would that more such places existed where I live, and less expensive ones. I washed down half a veggie omelette soaking in cream sauce with a mate cocido and complimentary alfajorcitos, or mini alfajores, or shortbread cookies with dulce de leche. I had to bounce then, as I needed to be at UB for the grand tour, and I left after paying and having Susana agree to take home my leftovers.

My - i.e., Sara´s, pants swept the streets that I walked, and I was devoutly thankful for the absence of dog shit. UB is on a street named Zabala, and it´s something like Embassy Row in Dupont Circle. It´s right across from the Australian Embassy, and close to the Turkish one.

Alejandro, our Venezuelan guide of sorts, came with me via subte - short for subterraneano or something, meaning underground - back to the hotel. I was mildly amused by his admonition not to put my card through the slot but to touch it to the surface - I´ve been using a SmarTrip card for years. It turned out to be a moot point anyway, as the guards let everyone through the gates. Alejandro explained that this always happens during rush hour. I too would want to get that many tired, disgruntled yuppies out of my sight, wouldn´t you?

It was stuffy there, despite the chill outside. I got my suitcase into a taxi and rode back to my homestay for 8 pesos, and Alejandro saw me off.

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