We had room service and went to bed.
I was very disappointed with the hotel, it wasn’t bad but it had no Internet and it was ordinary. Cristin calmed me down. Vange said I should have asked her, because we should have been in South Beach. It turned out later that we were in the heart of South Beach.
Monday morning I woke up and did the Brazillian visa errand. I failed to convince Cristin to keep me company and thank goodness, because it would have been a bad idea. I did nothing but follow the cars directions to the Brazilian consulate across town, wait in line, pay my money, and turn in our passports and forms. The Brazilian embassy was in a large office building in the middle of what seemed like an upscale residential area, near the bay.
I returned to the hotel, we walked in almost-unbearable heat to a restaurant recommended by the hotel (News Café) that served breakfast all day. As we walked to that place we discovered we were actually in the heart of South Beach, just a couple of blocks from the Ocean Avenue section that has one restaurant after another, and small but trendy hotels. We had a nice breakfast, then walked back to the hotel, for a while on the beach but it was too hot for the beach.
Cristin exercised at the health club, I fought with dial-up connections and email, and we passed the afternoon in our hotel room. I was reading Bel Canto, which is a fabulous book.
At dinnertime we went a couple blocks to the Delano Hotel, which Saby had recommended, to check out dinner, but the place was empty at six pm and looked too formal, so we didn’t. We returned to the hotel and had dinner at their restaurant, which was also too formal, and empty. Then we gave up for the night.
The next day we went to a second recommended restaurant that served breakfast all day, the Van Dyke, and as we did we discovered we were close to a second very interesting South Beach area, a shopping mall that was very full of restaurants. We had a good meal outside (heat, but shade) and we chose a restaurant there (Sushi Samba) for dinner.
In the afternoon I did the visa errand again, this time picking up the passports with visas on them, and Cristin was again smart to let me go alone. She visited the gym again.
We had dinner at Sushi Samba as planned, but once again we were too early, and therefore alone. Still, it was interesting ceviche, and small but expensive Nigiri.
We returned to the hotel, packed, and left at about 8:15 for the airport where we were to meet Paul. We had an 11:45 pm flight on United to Buenos Aires. We dropped off the rental car, waited a bit to meet up with Paul. He appeared in plenty of time with backpack as luggage, looked healthy but a bit disheveled as he so often does (memories of Paul as the Woodstock charter in Peanuts, in first grade, running to the bus in front of Mariposa with shoes not yet tied, shirt still not tucked, always looking late and not fully finished).
Paul was delighted with Business Class, which was a surprise to him. It made me feel so good to see his reaction. Cristin of course also reacted always very happily to that, but she had already had the pleasure a few times, whereas Paul took it as a very pleasant surprise.
The long all-night flight went relatively quickly, mainly sleeping, although I woke up about 4 a.m. and slept fitfully until we arrived at 9:30 Argentine time. Paul’s bag didn’t arrive, which made our arrival less pleasant, but we finally got to the Sheraton San Martin with a great location and very nice rooms on the 19th floor. We looked out over a park, then a broad dock area, and the River Plate (Rio de la Plata) beyond. It is as wide as an ocean, and in fact I had to ask, during my seminar lunch, whether it was an ocean or the river. I should have looked at the map, I found out later, because it takes 300 Kms to get from Buenos Aires to the ocean, according to the taxi driver who took us to the airport on Saturday.
It was Wednesday morning. We were tired. We walked to Puerto Madero, a nice renovated restaurant area near the hotel, for lunch. It was the wrong time, nobody was there, but we were hungry. We were also tired, we didn’t do that well, but we settled and found some sandwiches in a café. It felt like a poor imitation of Starbucks, and we had wanted a nice late breakfast.
Cristin napped a bit, Paul and I walked around, bought him a warm-up suit and me some socks, we saw a bit of the city. It was cold, and gray, the middle of winter, so Paul needed something for warmth since he didn’t have his baggage. We talked about him, his job, his decisions regarding Raina, Cristin, the family, Laura, life. We found the cemetery in ______ district in which Eva Peron was buried, and we went to her tombstone, but we failed to discern whether it was the Eva of the 1940s made famous by the Andrew Lloyd Weber work, or Evita, who I remembered was a second Eva that Peron had found in Panama, singing in a nightclub, who was with him in the 1970s when I watched the return of Peron to Argentina on the Latin American wire in UPI at 110 Avenida Morelos in Mexico City.
We returned to the hotel to pick up Cristin by 3, then after a short time in the room we struck out again, walking, to a restaurant in the Palermo district that Paul knew of from a friend at NYU. It was a long walk, Buenos Aires’ downtown seems to last forever, so at about 5:30 after going forever in Avenida Santa Fe we took a taxi to the restaurant, which, it turned out, didn’t open until 8:30. It was about 6. We were hungry, and tired.
We took a taxi to a line of restaurants across from the Cemetery and ended up in an outdoor steak house, with heating, one of several, in which a crew of young women showered Paul with flirting attention while Cristin and I watched in awe. The chemistry of Paul with these women, his age or younger, was amazing. He had to leave the table twice to smoke, which bothered me, and it bothered Cristin and Paul that it bothered me.
We returned to the hotel afterwards, walking at night through a nice part of town, and I was finished. Paul and Cristin went out to a nightclub recommended by the girls in the restaurant, leaving at about 11:30. Cristin came back in at around 2 a.m. I learned the next day that they’d had a good time, Paul had made friends with a woman named Romina.
The next day I did my seminar, which turned out to be the best of the series. It wasn’t as obvious the first day, but it was already possible. However,
I finished the day very tired because of the animo of the group and the requirements of doing a seminar in Spanish.
Paul had his luggage by then, although I was told it was an annoying process from morning through mid afternoon.
Paul called Romina from our room while we were considering the evening, but she was busy. We took at taxi to Las Canitas, another restaurant area people had recommended to Paul. He took over paying the taxis and dealing with directions, which was a nice change for me. He kept pointing out how much the plane tickets and hotels cost. That was nice. We were still early for Buenos Aires, around 7:30 or so, but we found a nice restaurant on the corner named Campo something, and had a good meal. I was very tired by 9:30 or so when we were finished, and on that night Paul and Cristin were tired too, so we all stayed in.
The next morning I did seminar again, and by midday when it was done I was exhiliarated with the response. They loved it. It was very rewarding. I had a press interview immediately after, and returned to the room, finally, at about 2 pm. I had until 5 before another press interview.
Paul suggested Argentine empanadas for lunch, that we shouldn’t not have empanadas in Buenos Aires, and the concierge recommended a restaurant within walking distance. It was a nice walk, an interesting shopping street (LaValle) blocked off from traffic, and a nice lunch, with empanadas.
I returned to the hotel, had an interview with a journalist in leather jacket and long hair, we talked about important concepts in technology and the Internet, it was fun. After the interview we took a taxi to the restaurant we’d been able to eat in on Wednesday, had a good dinner, organic food mostly. Afterwards, we took a taxi back to the hotel. I slept, Cristin and Paul went out to a club, and came back about 3 in the morning.
The next morning we took a taxi to the airport, and a plane (Varig) to Sao Paulo. The plan was on time, we had decent coach class seats, and we found ourselves in Sao Paulo. Paul stretched out across three seats that were empty, and Cristin and I shared spacious seats on an exit row.
The taxi took an hour to the hotel. Blue Tree Towers Berrines. Even on a Saturday it took a long time, and the city failed to show itself with distinguishing landmarks. Our hotel ended up in a business district, what they call the Silicon Valley of Brazil, a decent hotel but with nowhere to walk to. Within an hour or so Paul’s friend Renato was there, along with his girlfriend Carolina and a friend Luis called Tequila, a lawyer. We went in two cars to the district where Carolina lives, a nice district on a hill, where we sat in a bar for two hours drinking beer and talking. Tequila left, we went to a restaurant in Bajia style – not real good – which was empty because it was not yet 9. Carolina didn’t eat anything. I stayed up late that night to finish Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, a novel. The book takes place in a Latin American country, and it involves terrorists and hostages.
Sunday morning we woke up late, too late for breakfast, and ended up asking at the hotel front desk where we could go to walk around, choose a restaurant, and spend a part of the day. They recommended Embus Das Artes. The taxi took more than an hour, and we ended up in a village place with an outdoor crafts market, a lot like Tepoztlan, with the taxi driver hanging around waiting for us. We looked around, had a poor meal in a crowded restaurant, and returned to the city, all three of us bummed. Cristin and I stayed in the hotel with room service, read, watched television, and remained bummed. Paul left to go with Renato and Carolina.
A note about taxis: Paul began paying all the taxis in Buenos Aires. He was appreciative about how I had given him the airfare and hotels. It was nice, for a change, to not worry about always having the change for the taxis. I appreciated that in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.
Monday was a seminar. I spoke in English, they spoke English and Portuguese, and the seminar went well. It was almost impossible to follow discussions in Portuguese, but I did manage to catch the context most of the time, if not the full meaning, so I was able to manage. After I returned to the room, finished at last, Paul called me with instructions to go to a Japanese restaurant in Plaza La Boim, near the university. The taxi ride took about an hour, and when we approached the plaza looking for the restaurant I saw Paul and Cristin on the street waving at me. I liked the meal, we had a good time, and we took a taxi back to the hotel without problems.
Tuesday was a half day seminar, worked out fine, and I found Paul and Cristin in the room, not having had breakfast. Paul had been walking around, and decided that since we were in a business district we had a lot of choices for lunch. We walked to a small lunch restaurant, self service, very poor food. I was depressed and worried for Paul, who had a bad cold and was himself very disappointed with his prospects in Sao Paulo. He had ended up depending a lot on Renato, who was involved with Carolina. His cold was bothering him, and his return to New York was not until Sunday. When we got back to the hotel, after lunch, he contacted Renato again and learned they had set up a soccer game, which was a consolation but he was talking about having expected a driving trip with Renato, and taking a bus instead. That worried me.
We took a taxi to Sao Paulo’s art museum, which turned out to be in one of many downtown-like districts. We spent a while looking at pictures – some name impressionists, among other pictures – but we were mostly killing time. We found a pharmacy to buy Paul some cold medicine, walked around some more including a jaunt through a park (very thick vegetation, and it worried me) and a restaurant with tables outside and television on a soccer game (Argentina vs. Columbia, PanAmerican games). Finally, as the business district started to shut down after five, we took a taxi back to the hotel. Paul went to the soccer game, after saying goodbye, and Cristin and I had dinner in the room, packed, and slept.
The next morning we woke up early and took a taxi to the airport. It was a 10:30 flight, but I had read 10:00, and the hotel people told me we should leave between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. We arranged a car at 6:45, made it, and we were at the airport b y 7:30, three hours too early. Breakfast was hard, crowded, not very good and not sitting down and ordering, but the plane left on time and we had good seats in business class. It was a very long flight from Sao Paulo to Mexico City, landing on time at 6 p.m., which was 8:00 in Brazil.
It felt very good to be back in Mexico, a place I know, where people speak Spanish. We negotiated the airport and taxi fairly well, and got to the Marriott at about 7:30. We stowed our bags in the room and went downstairs for a meal, where we discovered Vange and Megan.
Vange and I roomed together, leaving Cristin and Megan in the other room, which was very good. These were nice rooms, the Marriott in Mexico City is a very good hotel, very well located. Vange and I had a good night. It was a relief to be back with Vange, and Megan too as well as Cristin of course. I didn’t sleep well, but for good reasons.
The seminar went well the next day, all day, and I got to the hotel room upstairs very tired, with a sore voice, but happy. Vange and Cristin and Megan arrived shortly afterwards, with Vange excited and dealing with Raul by phone about what restaurant to go to for supper. We went to Fishers, which turned out to be very noisy, some good ceviche, but the clams and oysters were salty, and I was tired, too tired to talk over the loud music. It was also unpleasant to worry about safety, taking a taxi to the restaurant in Polanco, instead of walking (the hotel was also in Polanco). The str
eets were oddly empty at night, very different from Mexico City when we lived in it years ago.
The next day’s seminar went extremely well. I finished up well and followed that with a press interview. I got to the room about 3, ordered a salad, and returned a phone call from Raul, “my Raul,” my old friend.
We met in the bar at about 5:30. Raul looked old, tired, and beaten, but putting a strong positive face on it. He will be 60 next January. He needed money. He was starting a business in Mexico City, having left Chihuahua after seven years. He has a six-year-old son, Diego Patricio. I was very glad to see him, but he talked about the collapse of Mexamerica ten years earlier, how it felt to be afraid of the criminal charges related to fraud. He was eating with a friend in a provincial city when a black helicopter came by, he was afraid at that moment that they were after him. The people in the company cheated him, and robbed him. He said he had worked hard to build the company up, but he had been taken advantage of. This seems very different from what I had seen. I was happy to see Raul and didn’t want to be negative.
Pam and Raul arrived, we went walking to supper, struggling a bit to find a suitable restaurant. We had a good dinner, including gusanitos and some additional very Mexican food. We walked back to the hotel, packed, and went to sleep.
The next morning was very early, 4:30 wake up, but we are now on the plane back to San Francisco and then Eugene. Another trip finished, more milestones, more memories. Thanks Paul and especially Cristin for making a long and tedious business trip a good trip, with good memories.