I think I got it. This might be the real thing. Tandil, Argentina. Not well known from outside the USA. Better that way. The day began with me going to the main university here in Tandil (UNICEN) only knowing that I would be meeting with a professor from the International Relations department. Fernando took me to meet some of his grad students who work with him at the Centro de Estudios Interdisciplinarios en Problemas Internationales y Locales. This quickly turned into a international discourse of politics, sociology, government, development and other international topics. It became quickly became clear to me that these were some brilliant minds at work. There we were drinking mate, and dicussing latin american politics. Well I didnt think it could get any better until Sr. Fernando, invited me to the local futbol match for that evening. Santa Marina vs. CiPolleti. Ive been to Brazilian matches before, as well as Spanish futbol matches. But this match, was something different. Watching the 3000 people cheer thier team on, Fernando later told me that "futbol here in latin america is about passion. The team has it. The crowd has it. They may not be the best team in the world, but their passion makes them the best team for thier supporters, and thats what matters" Passion. The smoke, the cursing, the yelling, the protesting when they ran out of chorizo, the continous singing. Wow. The fouls were harsh, the crowd's words were harsher. Even though the match was a tie, the energy never ended.
Afterwards I was taken to a place I will never forget. It was if I had stepped into the the inner sanctum of one type of argentine life. La Realidad, is a loft style restaraunt whose owners had remodeld to make it thier own. A unique menu, bossa nova in the back ground, and eclectic(yes jodie i used it) art work makes this place feel like you are somewhere unlike anywere else. The conversation we had was amazing. The food was incredible. A chicken rissotto, with a side of bread was all i needed to go with the 3 bottles of wine. The conversation went well into the morning with all being satisfied. My thrist was satisifed. I was told that the place had just opened in December, and that the owners had only recently returned after cooking in some hotels in europe. I was thrilled to finally feel like I was getting a taste of how some argentinans live. Places like these are not a dime a dozen. They do not grow on street corners, they are not the pocket tourism that so many people believe is worth something. En La Realidad I felt at home. The food, the company, the music, and the ambiance was a bit of Argentina that I could at that moment call my own.
After such a great evening, how could it get any better right? Well today I had a little bit more. After a long morning of museos, meetings, and more, I was able to get some time alone amongst the town center in Tandil. Looking far and wide for postcards but to no avail, I finally came upon a few bookstores which I furiously began scouring, for good reads. Happening upon a couple books(not to be mentioned because they are gifts to Significant Other) I needed a place to read, have a cafe, and wait for a call. Perhaps by chance or perhaps not. I found myself on the same street as La Realidad. Going upstairs I met with the cook/owner and a local artist who decorates the place. I proceeded to take photos, and will be sharing this blog with you sir Tuculet. If anyone reads this and has the opportunity to vist Sarmiento 743. I highly reccomend you do so. Moving on; I went to a little courtyard that caught my eye, and there began drinking my cafe con leche, reading a few books, and people watched as time went on. The people in the little courtyard were local vendors, who drank mate and smoke Camels while they waited for customers. They knew everyone who walked by, and anyone who walked in. Just to able to sit there and perhaps blend in a little was comforting. The anonomity was most welcome.
En fin, what can I say but I will miss Tandil. The people, the food, the local pleasantries. Its ironic that I must return to reality, after having such an amazing experience en La Realidad.
For more pictures of La Realidad and others that accompany this travel blog.. click here