8.30 am and sun streams through the open window onto a table covered with a white lace tablecloth and bearing Francesca’s cream teapot full of fresh tea. Someone sings below, birds chirp from the roof rails, eight parakeets squark as they fly past in formation, in the distance lorries grind away from the lights on Av Independencia.
A Saturday city. Weekends in Buenos Aires slow down from the weekday race. They have an altogether different pace. Waiters at the little cafes on Calle Defensa no longer rush from table to table, but stroll in the sunshine. The air is lighter, softer, crisper, as is our weekend mood.
This year I have brought binoculars with which I scan rooftops from the terrace. To the north maroon-red brickwork marks a monastery. Beyond, the distant towers of Puerto Madero pepper the skyline towards Retiro. East, the view is towards the classical colonnades of the university engineering faculty building. All around are roofs and terraces, some with palms, others with plant pots. Half a kilometer away an elderly woman retrieves a towel from the roof line. Four cats laze on a remote ledge. Windows glitter as morning shutters are opened.
One tiny, white, passing cloud blows past on a light breeze. As it moves, it dissipates into the morning’s warmer air. It is time for breakfast. “Let’s head for Origen?”, suggests Stephanie. “What a good idea”, I rejoin as we head for the stairs.