Thursday, 31 October 2013

Stormy Buenos Aires

After a delicious brunch of waffles with bacon, scrambled egg, and salad drizzled with honey, fresh orange juice, and coffee at Javier's 'Wafles SUR' Estados Unidos 509, we returned to Chacabuco to escape the storm.

Unlike Britain, episodes of heavy rain here in Buenos Aires are common. Today, a month's rain was forecast to fall in the day. When it does, streets flood and the shops - hopefully prepared for the event - sweep out the water from the ground floor areas with large handled blades. On occasions, those out and about are stranded and forced to book into a nearby hotel. The rain gorges the culverts until eventually they cope, and the water filters through to underground caverns deep below the Capital Federal.

With rain drumming on the roof here at Chacabuco, and washing across the balcony between our rooms, we stay safely at home and avoid the temptation to travel to Nuevo Chique milonga today. Astor, the house cat joins us on the bed as we peer out to the row of flowering plants that edge the balcony. At least they appreciate the rain.

Two issues with going out when the storm is due are, first, the threat of lightening. Massive electrical discharges fork across the sky and earth where most convenient - hopefully a lightening conductor on a tall block or church. The chances of being affected are remote, but they are accompanied by crashing thunder almost overhead - where the shock compresses and compacts the air.

The other is not the rain that is falling. Here, the trusty umbrella takes the strain in the short distance between taxi and milonga door. It is the rain that has fallen and rests, expectantly, between the paving flags.

Pavements in Buenos Aires are a luxury. They exist, but only so far as the house or shop owner's property extends - and then they stop - to be replaced by broken flags or simply compacted rubble. For the unwary, and worse for the visually disadvantaged, pavements rest somewhere between inconvenient and treacherous.

After the rain, water lodges under the small, uneven flags that rock under foot, causing spouts of muddy water to squelch up, covering trousers and legs and stockings. Foot placement on street flags is as important at these times as it is in the milonga.

The storm appears to be passing. Up above the sky is once again turning to an intense blue. Spring swallows are rising on thermals to feed from a new crop of mosquitos, and a light, fresh breeze blows away our concerns. Perhaps now is time for pizza and beer at Moderna?