It is cold outside. From my balcony, the cold drizzling rain looks almost like snow. This year has been a cold winter. My guests from Austria are surprised. 10 Celsius in Buenos Aires is really cold. Much colder they say than 10 Celsius in Austria. "It is the wind." I tell them. They are preparing to buy more sweaters.
I called Felipe this morning. "Do you remember when it snowed?" I asked him. He tells me he will call me later. He is teaching his son to drive. "Stay in." he advises me. "Drink mate. It is too cold to go out." Everyone feels this way.
Yesterday I went to buy vegetables and fruit. I was having guests for dinner. I was preparing a vegetarian dinner for them. I almost never buy chicken or fish for me anymore. It has gotten very expensive. Everything looks so good, so fresh in the fruteria. I have to stop myself from buying too much. It goes bad and then I waste money. This is more important now more than ever.
I look at everything I selected. "51 pesos." the young man tells me. The positive is I can break a hundred peso note. The negative is that I bought almost nothing. There is fruit for maybe 2 days, at the most 3. The same with the vegetables. I say to the young men in the fruteria, "I remember when this only cost 10 - 12 pesos."
One young man laughs at me. "That was a long time ago. You were not here." he says to me. "I was," I say to him. I point to the apples. "In 2006, apples were 2 kilos for 3 or 4 pesos. Now they are 9 pesos or more for 1 kilo. Potatoes were 3 kilos for 2.50 pesos." He smiles but says nothing.
He smiles sadly, "Next week the prices will be higher because of the weather." he says to me. I tell him I know. I have already heard this. I can hardly wait. I spend around 400 pesos a month on fruits and vegetables. That does not include oatmeal, milk, mate, etc. Most likely I spend around 550 a month. That is me, one person who doesn't eat meat. I wonder what families with children do.
Everyday the prices go higher. The milongas are now 20 pesos. Taxis are going up 30% by the end of the year. If we take a taxi to and from the milonga, have something to drink, it will be a 100 peso night. Forget it. I take the bus. Oksana too. Sandra never. She refuses. None of us understand why the milongas are so expensive. Less of us will go. Who will go? There are less tourists.
The milongas are still crowded on weekends. The week days are empty. Yes, July is always like this. However, this year was quiet in May and June as well. Tourism is down and the locals have no money. In the US and Europe when things are slow, the prices get lower. Here they get higher. I don't understand why the organizers of the milongas don't lower their prices so more people can come. It seems to me that if the milongas were more like 15 pesos or even 12 pesos, people would start coming back again. Better to have 100 people at 15 pesos per person than 50 at 20 pesos. It is not the way people think here. I have long accepted that. Raise the price to cover costs..and then go out of business. Happens all the time.
If it is not on Facebook it does not exist. Last night my friend Beatrice came to dinner with her husband Kragen. It was my way of thanking her for making the videos of me dancing with Roberto. Of course Beatrice and Martin my house guests came too.
When my friends read that I had a dinner party they didn't even bother to post to Facebook. The phone rang. "How come I was not invited?" They wanted to know. In Argentina we have an open door policy. This was different. It was not a party party. Just something small. "Who was there?" they demanded. Then the real test when I insisted no one, "Was Oksana there?" "No." I told them. "She was not." They are not used to me having a dinner party where I don't invite the world. "The next one." I promise.
I think about getting dressed to go out and dance tonight. It is cold, wet, and rainy. Martin is coming down with a cold. My guests decide they would rather stay in. I think about paying close to 80 pesos and no one will be there. I decide to stay in too. Tomorrow will be Gricel and I will go to celebrate the birthday of a friend. Better to stay in and drink mate.