EATING UP THE
LATIN CULTURE

     Our oldest daughter, who has been around the world and done stuff like eat tarantulas in Cambodia, decided she was going to teach 4th graders in South America for two years. And thatís why Iím writing this from Buenos Aires.
     We found her holed up in a four-star hotel in the trendy BA (thatís what insiders call Buenos Aires) neighborhood of Palermo Soho. She walked through the lobby and wasnít all that surprised to see us, considering we were paying the bill.
     She had flown down for a four-day weekend from Campinas, Brazil, which is where she is heroically teaching the children of corporate executives in an American school. After two years of teaching 5th grade in the difficult environment of East Palo Alto, she deserved the break.
     We visited her last year in Campinas, and once was enough. Not only is the name of the town enough to give any father (of daughters) nightmares, Campinas has very little to offer tourists. Buenos Aires is the place to be, so we arranged to meet there.
    The first night was when I learned I may not be a great candidate for living in Buenos Aires.
    "Letís eat," I announced to my wife and daughter. "Iím in the mood for some of that famous Argentinian beef."
     "Dad, have a clue," replied my daughter, "Itís only 8:30. No one eats dinner until at least 10:00."
     "Thatís ridiculous." I turned to my wife for help. "You canít wait until 10:00, can you?"
     She motioned to the hotel bartender and asked for a glass of Argentinian chardonnay. "Yes, I can."
    "Canít we go at 9:00 and get an early-bird special or something," I pleaded.
     My daughter was adamant. Her Brazilian friends had told her that nothing happens in Buenos Aires before 10 p.m. Weíd look like tourists if we ate any earlier.
     I checked what I was wearing. It wasnít exactly an Argentinian Ďlook.í My baseball hat and golf shorts gave me away. I could eat dinner at 3 a.m. and dance the tango between courses and it wouldnít matter. I was a fraud, and happy to be one.
    But as usual, I lost. We had a cocktail and waited until it was appropriate to enter La Cabrera, a semi-famous beef restaurant a few blocks from our hotel. By this time, I was absolutely famished.
    To the absolute disgust of my wife and daughter, I finished every bite of the biggest steak any of us had ever seen. And since it was about 11:30 after the last tasty morsel had been devoured, I went back to the hotel and was asleep about 17 minutes later.
     I donít think thatís what "Latin Culture," is all about. I guess youíre supposed to go out dancing or to the bars after a late dinner out. In retrospect, that probably would have been a good idea.
     I learned my lesson. After dreaming about gladiators and having nightmares about stampeding cows, I vowed to never eat that late again.
    Unfortunately, we had paid for a dinner tango show for the following night. Since the show started at 11 p.m., dinner was served at 9:30. At least we were going in the right direction.
    As I finished my Argentine beef (the only selection), the show began. Two very athletic tango dancers, who clearly had an abundance of cartilage in their knee joints, mesmerized me for a good seven or eight minutes. Then it was time for bed. But alas, the night and the show had just begun.
     There were 6 different couples, and they all had a different routine. Or so Iím told. They all looked pretty much alike to me.
    By 12:30 in the morning, I had enough. I was stuffed, tired and ready for bed. My wife and daughter had other plans. "Itís Buenos Aires," my daughter explained. "The night is just beginning."
    I considered my options. I could go back to the hotel and dream of gladiators and stampeding cows, or I could try to stay up for awhile and experience the glittering and exciting nightlife of Buenos Aires.
    As we filed out of the tango show, my wife and daughter decided to embrace the late-night Latin Culture. They headed for a nightclub next to our hotel.
    I walked in with them, but the call of the gladiators and stampeding cows was too strong to resist. I headed back to the hotel. With luck, this time Iíd dream about staying up until 3:00 in the morning.
 

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