Brisbane is not like Sydney. In the words of my friend Ian, it is not set up for tourists. For me it is still a very beautiful place. When I booked my room with Airbnb the room was advertised as being 2km from the city. I suppose it would be if you could walk on water. The apartment was beautiful. Completely different than the place I was in in Sydney. Modern and clean with fantastic people. At first I was to stay with different people, but they moved. Then the new people in the apartment agreed to take on their guests. So even though I was much farther from Brisbane than I would have liked, in the end it all worked out for the best.
My first day in Brisbane it rained. Everyone thanked me for bringing them rain. They said that it had been parched there. Thank God it stopped that night. I had this fear that my time in Brisbane would be marred by torrential downpours out in the middle of no where. I took the ferry into Brisbane from Hamilton where I was staying. It was a 30 minute ride. I felt like I was in fairyland. The woman who worked inside the ferry gave me a map and explained all the stops to me. How Australians can complain about their customer service is beyond me. The ride was beautiful.
My friend Ian met me at the South Bank stop. I met him in Buenos Aires a few years ago when he came with a group to dance. He was kind enough to meet me and give me a tour of this part of Brisbane. Not only that he gave me tons of information on where to go the next day. Australians are so friendly and nice. We walked around looking for a reasonable place to eat dinner.
I am still amazed that the price of food in the restaurants is about the same as the prices in Buenos Aires. Most of the time you can eat for between $10 and $16 AUD. ($12 - $19 USA) This is about 50 - 60 pesos ARG. The same for food in the grocery store. This tells you how expensive Buenos Aires has gotten.
We ended up in an Indian restaurant that was amazing. The food was fantastic. There is not one Indian restaurant in Buenos Aires that comes close. It took me forever to figure out what I wanted to eat. The menu was extensive and filled with many things I had never seen before. I had a prawn dish that was so rich and flavorful. I can no longer eat naan which is a shame. It looked so good.
After we went to a tango practica. The people were so nice, and so welcoming. The dancing was a little different. Many people dancing in open embrace. There was one lone Argentine who was very happy to dance with me. I spent quite a bit of time talking with the Argentine man and a very interesting woman who was originally from El Salvador. It was not really important for me to dance. I loved talking to the people. I found the people to be so warm.
The next day I took the ferry into the city again. I spent the whole day walking around. I picked up a map at the library. There is a long street called Queen Street that has been turned into a pedestrian mall. There are tons of shops and some beautiful old buildings. I wandered around the Art museum, Griffith University, and I kept getting lost. I got excited when I saw Target. Further investigation proved to be disappointing. Australian Target is not like USA Target. A cheap imitation.
I love the clothes in Australia. They have a wonderful sense of style. I see that my design of short in front and longer in the back has been copied. I did this in my dresses two years ago. I sold it to many people who were from Asia and now it is all over the place here. I am the only one not making money from it. Sigh..
At 6 I meet with Ian. He takes me to a more bohemian part of the city. I love it there. We go to a Vietnamese restaurant. I am not real hungry as I ate a sushi roll a couple of hours earlier. The menu looks wonderful. I miss having all these kinds of restaurants. I know I will be able to eat Vietnamese food in Melbourne. Maybe even in Cairns. I have shrimp rolls. They are excellent.
We head for tango. They are playing modern tango when we enter. Once again, people are friendly. They dance very different. Open and with some step I have never seen before. Lots of boleos, ganchos. Stuff I would never dance. When in Rome... A man asks me to dance. I can dance open embrace, but it is very difficult when the other person is like a jellyfish. When he finds out I live in Buenos Aires, he proceeds to tell me that “everyone” dances this way in Buenos Aires. He has been there. I ask him where do people dance this way in Buenos Aires. He tells me La Viruta. I keep my mouth shut. I do not want to argue.
When I go back to the table, the woman there, tells me to learn to say no. I do not want to say no the whole night. This is not my style of dancing. I am a milonguera. I dance with another man who is very nice. He talks about his style of dancing. I politely listen. Then he realizes who I am. “You are Deby.” he says. He reads my blog. To me, my opinions do not matter here.
My body is killing me. My arm, my waist, my feet. I have been dancing less than 2 hours. In Buenos Aires I can dance for 6 hours with no pain. I wonder if I can make it until 11:30. I have not been in this much pain since I started dancing or when I was teaching.
A lovely man takes me to dance. He says to me “I bet you are wondering when we are all going to learn to dance.” I smile but I don't respond. I tell him that they have their own style. He is so sweet. This is the thing. Although I feel like I have been through the war, people are so nice here, it is impossible to say no to dances. Although it is difficult to explain to another man why I do not want to dance to Pugliese. When I watch the dancers, it reminds me of my days in the US. I would have ended up dead on the floor.
I am happy to leave early with my friend Ian. I do not think I could dance another tanda. It makes me sad. I would love to dance more. Perhaps it was all the walking I have been doing. My friends here see their version of tango as an international version. It is really interesting to listen to them talk about tango. This is when I realize why I cannot leave Buenos Aires...for all the faults, the inflation, the government. Even the garbage on the street. There is no substitute for the milongas in Buenos Aires..for the men I dance with there, no matter how angry they might make me at times.
On Saturday, Nicol and her husband ask me if I want to go with them to the mountains with them and their friend. I am still having a difficult time to traffic being on the other side of the road. I try to get into the car on the “wrong” side. I look at the road and get a rush. I don't think I would ever try to drive here.
We pick up their friend and head to Mt. Tamborine. It is lots of fun. They are all from Rumania. The drive is spectacular. We have two GPS. The electronic GPS and the friend Michaela. She knows the mountain very well. I am amazed at all the wildlife. We stop at a Polish restaurant and have coffee. The parrots are gorgeous. The day is spectacular.
We drive through little pockets of shops and stop. The homes are secluded. I cannot imagine living here. We stop so that Nicol and Michalea can buy avocados. I am astounded. There is a stand filled with avocados, bags, and what they call an honesty box. People fill their bags and put their $3 into the box. I cannot believe it. I tell them in Argentina people would just take the avocados, probably any money, and maybe the stand, and all the bags. They laugh. I tell them it is true.
We stop at a distillery. The people are lovely. An English man married to a Russian woman. They give us a tasting of 6 different liquors. I love the ginger liquor. I don't buy it because the truth is, I would never drink it. The place is charming. They even grow many of the fruits that they distill.
We stop and take a 3 km hike into the mountains. It is so beautiful. My friends tease me and call me a Japanese tourist for all the pictures I am taking. It is true. I am taking lots of pictures. I will load them in Facebook when I get a chance. Australia is so beautiful I cannot imagine not taking lots of pictures.
At the end of the day we go back to pick up Paul, Micahlea's husband. We go out for Indian food. Another wonderful dinner and spirited conversation. Paul is very interesting. People always have their ideas and opinions of what South America is like, without having been there.
Now my time is ending in Brisbane. Today we are going to drive to Noosa. One of my dearest friends Kat lives there with John. I will spend 4 days with them. Everyone tells me that I am going to love Noosa. I cannot wait to see it. Brisbane has been very nice. The only thing is I have had bad hair days. The air is so dry here I feel like I am drying up. The opposite of Buenos Aires... My Australian Odyssey...will be continued.