Dear reader, please forgive my absence: I got rather carried away in Rio and have not put metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper for quite a while.
Our protagonist (yours truly) was returning to Buenos Aires from Mendoza at the end of the previous post. Let us reprise:
I had selected to stay in the neighbourhood of Recoleta for my final few days in Buenos Aires. The lady in whose house I was to stay had informed me that she had recently moved house, however, she would prepare a room for me in the new house. Upon arrival at the property – a beautiful period building with the type of charming lifts/elevators that have the metal lattice doors and occasionally make unscheduled stops between floors – I was greeted by the boyfriend who ushered me to my bedroom. As I walked through the sitting room, I noted a series of cardboard boxes which implied the recent move was still being finalised. I was also informed that the installation of Wi-Fi had been delayed and I would have to sit on the piano stool in the main room to access Wi-Fi from the next-door neighbour.
The term “bedroom” was a slight misnomer for the space I then entered. There was little “room” and even less “bed”. Sheets had been laid on a chaise-longue in what appeared to be a belle époque-style antechamber. Slightly bewildered but not keen to cause a fuss, I set down my bags and headed to the bathroom to wash away the fatigue of my 14-hour bus journey from Mendoza.
The shower curtain was as absent as the bed in my room, meaning I had to press myself against the wall whilst showering to avoid inundating the room. Annoyance began to tap gently on the door of my equanimity.
Toothbrush in hand, I looked myself in the mirror and told myself to remain calm. It could be worse.
I turned the tap of the basin to dampen the toothpaste and….. The water had gone the same way as the shower curtain and the bed. It floweth not. It could have been worse. And it was.
Gritting my teeth, I decided to give it one night and reevaluate.
That evening I went to a tango class nearby and ended up dancing until the early hours of the morning, at which point I had completed my mission of stepping on the feet of every eligible partner in the room and thought it time to make my escape. I returned to my chaise-longue, bemoaning the lack of Roman slaves to feed me bunches of grapes as I reclined, and fell asleep.
An unsatisfying number of hours later, I awoke. It was 7am and the early morning sun was beating down on my face. The lack of curtains, it seems, was not limited to the bathroom. This was a no-curtain zone. I bristled and pulled the sheets over my head. Shortly thereafter workmen arrived and began hammering and drilling in the courtyard below. This was the pneumatic drill that broke the camel’s back.
In as polite a way as I could manage, I informed my hosts that, to avoid further sleep deprivation, I would be looking for alternative accommodation. They were actually very nice people and apologised profoundly for trying to accommodate me before the place was guest-friendly.
From my perch on the piano stool, I briefly scanned the internet and booked into a boutique hotel in the same area. I said farewell and headed to my new digs.
Bliss! I had not one but two double beds in the room, the en-suite bathroom was immaculate. I could relax.
It was a bit chilly though.
An hour later, my feet and hands numbed by the cold, I called reception to let them know the heating was not working. “It is working but might take a while to warm up the room” came the response.
Halfway through the night, as I put on my jeans and jumper to keep warm in bed, I was fairly sure the heating was broken. In the morning I went down to reception to complain. The receptionist pointed to a printed sign on the wall which read “habitaciones a 24 grados” – “rooms at 24 degrees”. “The heating is definitely working, sir”. I was defeated. Clearly the piece of paper was right and I, the customer, was delusional.
This debacle continued for another 72 hours and not once was I offered a different room nor a heater as a temporary solution. Totally hopeless customer service.
Accommodation aside, my last days in the Argentine capital were immense fun: tango, a concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim in the Teatro Colon and a wander around El Museo de Bellas Artes to boot.
Next stop, and imminent update, Rio.