Monday, September 27, 2010

Bringing Buenos Aires to Toronto

In between attending Alberto and Paulina's workshops in Toronto and attending the milonga where they were going perform on Sunday night, Man Yung and I found ourselves taking a twenty-minute break at a Tim Horton's midtown.

Man Yung got a coffee, but what I absolutely craved was a Pepsi.

That's how I knew that Alberto and Paulina brought Buenos Aires to Toronto for us this weekend.  I know, it's obvious that Alberto and Paulina are physically here, right here in the city - but it's the little things, the things that take over your schedule and your habits and your whole psyche that, added up, make you feel like you aren't where you are anymore.  Or, in this case, makes us feel like we are in Buenos Aires.

For example, the Pepsi.  Whenever we are in Buenos Aires, we are dead tired.  When I'm that tired, I want sugar and caffeine.  I find myself drinking Pepsi whenever possible. Magically, perhaps because it's Buenos Aires, I don't get fat from it!

There are the other things too:

1.  Not enough sleep

In Toronto the weekend milongas end on average around one a.m.  That's a reasonably early hour, and in addition, we don't usually go to workshops during the day.  Weekends are good times for us to catch up on 8 hours of sleep at night at plentiful afternoon naps - Toronto life is placid and the utopia of good behavior and healthy living.

With Alberto and Paulina here we didn't get enough sleep.  Sleep deprivation plays funny tricks with our heads.

"Is Alberto and Paulina really here or are we hallucinating?"  we asked ourselves.  It was hard to believe - they had arrived, our friends and teachers from Buenos Aires were really here, dancing on the dance floors of Toronto Tango!  It seemed out of place to have dancers of their caliber here while everyone around them was doing their usual non-musical jerky crazy North American stuff that we are constantly joking about. 

But then, isn't that exactly what you would get in Confiteria Ideal?

2.  Really sore feet

Haven't had that in a while.  But when you are doing workshops followed by dancing at the milongas and workshops then milongas... well, that's how it's like in Buenos Aires every single day.  Out comes the Crocs (with socks)! The Pacsafe!  The Luluwear! We can be tango tourists in our own home city.*

* Wait a moment - we have this kind of gear on us all the time, Alberto and Paulina notwithstanding!

3. Contending with crazy traffic

Alberto and Paulina are staying with one of their hosts Patricia and their whole trip to Toronto has been organized by Patricia and Regina of Paradiso and Viva Tango in Toronto and Ray Barbosa of Chicago.  I can't imagine how stressed and exhausted the organizers/hosts must be getting the whole thing together - hosting, translating, transporting, and other preparations before and during the tour etc. etc.  We only helped a tiny little bit with driving Alberto and Paulina to some of the venues.  Our whole Saturday consisted of driving midtown, then out of town, then midtown, then downtown, then midtown, then uptown, then midtown, then uptown, then downtown, then uptown again - back and forth the whole day.

I don't recall that driving in Toronto on the weekend could be that challenging.  There were crazy drivers.  There were Sunday drivers.  There were traffic jams.  There were unclear road signs.  There was construction and lane reductions.  While rushing from place to place, Man Yung was beeping other cars, weaving in and out of lanes, making u-turns, and trying to avoid cars trying to cut in abruptly and other obstacles on the road.

Alberto and Paulina were impressed.  "Look, Man Yung is driving just like a Porteno!" they said.

4.  No vegetables

When we took Alberto and Paulina out to eat it was always heavy on carbs and protein and light on vegetables.  We wanted to treat them to some chinese food and vegetable dishes in the chinese restaurants were usually not a good idea - they cook them with way too much oil.

So instead of salad and steamed greens -

On Saturday we had Cantonese food:

Stir fried Lobsters with ginger and chives
Stir fried Dungenees Crab with ginger and chives
Deep Fried Tilapia
Steamed Tilapia with Soy Sauce
Stir Fried Grouper with XO sauce
Deep fried Pork cubes in sweet and sour sauce
Steamed rice

On Sunday we had Western Chinese Islamic Halal food:

Lamb Chops with special sauce
B.B.Q. cumin Lamb Skewers
Lamb and chives Dumplings
Western Chinese sesame bread ("Naan")
Royal style beef stew with bamboo shoots

Sorry, it would have been nice to see photos of the food - but we were so hungry after taking the workshops that we ate everything before we realized we should take a photo!

Now, in Buenos Aires, we wouldn't be able to eat these dishes with Alberto and Paulina but we always stuck to the same carb and protein food groups, Argentina-style.  Fries.  Beef.  Pizza.  Pasta.  More Fries.  Asado!!! (and wine, which Man Yung didn't have much of in Toronto because he had to drive).
5. Spanish

In Buenos Aires, I have to speak Spanish.  Now that Alberto and Paulina are here in Toronto, suddenly everyone is speaking in Spanish.  We are lucky to have lots of Spanish-speakers in our Toronto Tango. It's great practice for me to prepare for our next trip to Buenos Aires. Even our chinese waiter-friend tried to accommodate all that spanish-speaking... by speaking French.

I have been listening to and speaking so much Spanish that I even started to text message in Spanish with my Toronto milonguera friend.  I even had to turn off that pesky  auto-correction function on my iPhone keyboard - it kept on turning words like "Esperar" to "Emperor", "Enfermo" (after all that eating nothing but protein and carbs, you would be sick too) into "Engrams", and "Gente" into "Gents".


Alberto and Paulina will be teaching workshops tomorrow in the Kitchener/Waterloo area. Please check Paradiso's website for more details on these workshops and to arrange for private classes if you are in Toronto.

Stayed turn for the next post... in which we really explain how Alberto and Paulina brought Buenos Aires to Toronto!

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