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  • Writer's pictureDawnelle Salant

It Takes Two to Tango - And You Better Hope I’m Not Your Partner

New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires is the opposite of most of the rest of the world. Everything closed around 6 - including restaurants. Being tourist staying in a hotel with no restaurants open posed a slight problem for dinner. Our only option was to hit the corner store, so our New Year’s Eve feast consisted of a beer, nuts, crackers and a dulce de leche covered biscuit. So by the time we left for our New Year’s Eve Adventure, we were already starving and a little apprehensive of what the night would bring. Residents of Buenos Aires celebrate New Year’s Eve by having house parties, so we ended up heading to a house party in San Telmo, BA’s boho neighbourhood. How do two Canadians who know no-one in Argentina end up at a house party in BA on New Year’s Eve? AirBnB experiences - there are actually many activities you can book on the website, there is a lot more to AirBnB than just accommodation. We rang the bell with pounding hearts, but when our host, Manu, greeted us, all doubts disappeared. After an awkward moment when he went it for a kiss in the traditional Argentinian greeting, he invited us into his house and we were blown away by our surroundings. After a treacherous climb up a steep, rickety, winding metal staircase, we ended up on two rooftop terraces with a cool breeze that gave us delightful goosebumps. We were the first ones to arrive, because we were on time. (Argentinians are never on time, and I knew that, but I also hate being late!) Within a few minutes, other tourists started arriving. Other guests, besides a big group of locals, included people from New York, London, Texas, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Milan, Switzerland and Kentucky - (quite possibly the girl responsible for Bye Felicia!) The first portion of the evening consisted of a tango lesson. I will keep this short, because it was genuinely a mortifying experience. I’m glad I did it, but I can not say that I enjoyed it. I learned that Tango is in your heart, not your mind. You feel tango, you don’t think it. It is all about connection, and when you are dancing with a stranger who knows nothing about tango, all you do is think and there is very little possibility of connection. You don’t use your hips in tango so the couple from Brazil had a difficult time. Manu told us to keep your spine straight - that line doesn’t move. We had to keep our knees bent, our eyes closed and sway - side to side, and back and forth. That was the easy part. Then we were put into pairs and had to sway, then stop, and the leader (I was never sure who the leader was, especially when I was dancing with another woman and we were’t allowed to talk) had to guide their partner forward or backward with steps. There were other things we attempted - like pivoting, which Manu pronounced peevote - when I finally figured out what he was saying, I yelled out PIVOT, in a a most Ross Geller like fashion. I do think that if I had a partner who knew what they were doing, and I’d had more than 10 hours sleep in 4 days, I may have performed a little bit better. It’s definitely something I’d try again, but a group lesson for beginners did not make Dawnelle a tango dancer.

After the lesson, everyone converged on the other rooftop terrace to grab a drink and socialize. This is one of those times that I put my camera down and just soaked everything in. Photos would never do this experience justice. To be in an authentic experience like this is a rare thing and I just wanted to be present. I chatted with people in English, Spanish and tried out some of my Portuguese. We toasted the New Year with Champagne and everyone hugged and kissed each other on the cheek in true Argentine fashion. We watched fireworks exploding all over the city. I couldn’t think of a better way to start 2020 - and the adventure of a lifetime. We danced to some fantastic 80’s music, and as the night wore on, the live musicians started playing and the dancers started to tango. The first dancers were two men - totally normal and completely mesmerizing. The dance is something really special, it shows a connection between two people as they move and follow each other. It’s not necessarily a romantic connection, but one of being present in the moment and savouring each other’s presence. It’s enthralling. One thing I love about travel is meeting other people, and I don’t believe that I have even been in a such a unique and remarkable situation - with people from such diverse backgrounds and so many different countries. Watching the dancers and the live musicians so completely entranced in their celebration actually brought tears to my eyes. I felt privileged to be there. Finally at 3:30, after fighting jet lag and lack of sleep, we decided to call it a night. People were incredulous that we were leaving “so early”. In fact, throngs of people were just showing up. It was so hard to get a taxi or uber that the singer had to drive us and another couple back to the hotel. I don’t think this evening could have been any more perfect, or authentic. I am truly blessed.

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Arriving in Buenos Aires after nearly 28 hours of travel is fairly anticlimactic. It’s pouring, we’re exhausted and starving - but there is something about South America that feels like home. Hearing Spanish and speaking Spanish gives me a rush that I haven’t felt in years. I don’t know how people who don’t speak Spanish make it in these countries, even with my knowledge -getting a taxi and trying to change money took nearly two hours. There is a system where you buy a ticket for the taxi, they give you a number and then you wait with about 100 other people to hear your number called. Then they call your number to give you a receipt. Then you wait again. Then a man comes and calls about 10 numbers and everyone follows him, with all their luggage, through a crowded airport in a city that has a reputation for being unsafe. But we don’t travel to be comfortable and do things that we know how to do. We travel to have new experiences, and new experiences always lead to learning.

After a long taxi ride, we check into the hotel and head out to find something to eat. Around the corner from our hotel in Recoleta, a homeless man sleeps under an umbrella, surround by garbage bags full of his belongings. It’s a hard sight to see, but I have to fight the urge to photograph him. He is part of the city, a reality that makes the city what it is. A short nap after lunch and a hot shower revive us slightly and we make our way to Puerto Madero for dinner. It’s fairly far from our hotel, but as we have no Argentinian Pesos we start out walking. Getting pesos has turned out to be a nightmare - no exchange places in Calgary carry them, and the airport in Dallas was sold out. The bank machines won’t take our cards and there are no exchange places open.It’s dark, it’s a strange city and we have no idea where we are going. We go into a hotel and ask if they exchange money, but they don’t. Do the Argentinians not want our money? We do learn that taxis will accept US dollars so we flag one down and finally arrive in the tourist trap that is Puerto Madero. Lovely, but overpriced restaurants line the river and we choose one at random. We are just happy to be here and sweating in the hot, humid air. We order steak and vegetables and I have my first glass of Malbec. It’s ok, but nothing extraordinary. Our steak is so overdone that we can’t even eat it. I manage to get it taken off the bill and we head home for some much deserved sleep.

The next morning we walk two blocks to Teatro Colon, which is apparently one of the best Opera Houses in the world. Usually opera houses are small, to get the best acoustics. But this one, with nearly 2500 seats, and superior acoustics, ranks it as one of the best. We are meeting our Free Walking Tour here - this is a company that runs free tours all over the world - and I highly recommend them. If you are pleased with the service, you give a tip at the end of the tour.

We wander through the streets with our guide pointing out important buildings and streets. The highlight of the tour is the Cementerio Recoleta - this is where tombs and mausoleums fill several city blocks and the result is both unearthly and magnificent. The rich and famous are buried here - but not the pop singer/football type famous. It’s a resting place for political figures - the most famous resident being Eva Peron, or Evita.

We learned a lot about both Buenos Aries and Argentina from our guide. One of the most interesting things he shared with us is how bad the Argentinian economy is. The US dollar is king, and the peso fluctuates significantly, making it hard to get ahead. (from about 20 pesos per dollar in 2018, to 58 right now in Dec. 2019). Argentinians used to buy dollars with all their earnings, but the government capped the amount they are allowed to buy. Additionally, if they travel and charge things to their credit cards, they are charged 35% on top of the price. It’s hard to believe that a system like this exists in this day and age. He also told us where to get pesos on the black market. So we finally have pesos and now we know why they were so hard to get.

#photooftheday #picoftheday #instapic #instamood #instagood #bestoftheday #instadaily #photo #instalike #travel #life #amazing #travellife #nature #lovetotravel #travelgram #traveldiary #travelblogger #canoncanada #photography #travelista #travelingplanet #travelingworld #travelingislife #travelingsoul #travelpicsdaily #travelstories #globelletravels #travelvibes #globetrotters #travelworld #travelwriter #adventureawaits #travellingram #travelquote #travelquotes #theuprootedrose#exploretheglobe #travelinstyle #adventureanywhere #letsgoeverywhere #worldtraveller #hello_worldpics #travelwell #postcardplaces #meettheworld #globetrotting#travelinspo #doyoutravel #travelling #trip #traveltheworld #igtravel #travelwriter #postcardsfromtheworld #traveldeeper #ilovetravel #writetotravel #travelpics #tourist #wanderer #wanderlust #travelphoto #travelingram #mytravelgram #visiting #travel #instatravel #travelgram #tourism #instago #passportready #travelblogger #wanderlust #travelstroke #travelblog #instago #travels #travelphotography #ig_worldclub #worldcaptures #tourism #worldplaces #worldingram #traveller #traveler #instatravelling #instavacation #instapassport #beautifuldestinations #worldtravelbook

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  • Writer's pictureDawnelle Salant

You guys! I leave in less than 2 weeks on the adventure of a lifetime! I get to cross two MAJOR destinations off my bucket list - Antarctica and Carnival in Rio! I can't way to say that I've been to all 7 continents! I will be taking (too many) photos and posting them along the way! You can follow along on my journey here -I can't wait to share all my adventures with you! I am starting out in Argentina, with an overnight trip to Uruguay, then we leave for Antarctica from Ushuaia - the end of the world! After 12 days of adventure we will return to Argentina for a few weeks before moving on to my final destination, and my favourite place on this majestic planet - Brazil! I will spending nearly 3 months there, mostly in the Marvelous City (RIO). We will be there for Carnival and then and I will be doing some volunteering with underprivileged children in Rio, before heading south to a bio reserve where I will be volunteering as a photographer. A lot of this is way out of my comfort zone, but I can not wait to see what the next 4 months have in store for me!

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Hi there! I'm Dawnelle - travel photographer, adventure seeker and digital nomad currently exploring  South America. 

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