Brigit Grant and family attempted dancing, dining and Yiddish in part two of their South American trip
“Oh my goodness that woman is pregnant,” announced an elderly American from the crowd in Plaza Dorrego. This was not an astute observation as we could all see the female in a slinky black dress was due any day.
What was extraordinary was the fact she was being held tight by a wild-eyed man wearing pinstripe who spun and then suspended her inches from the floor.
Not even the advanced stages of maternity gets in the way of a tango in Argentina and the theatrical passion of the dance can be seen on every street corner of San Telmo’s Sunday market in Buenos Aires.
Performed by all ages at various levels the national dance was the lunchtime cabaret at the restaurant we chose and where our eight-year-old got to Tango with the handsome dancer on stage.
For all the music being played it was much more serious than the samba-humming beaches of Rio we had left behind, but the second part of our two-centre trip in Argentina was fascinating, European in flavour and much more Jewish than we ever expected.
It was in Buenos Aires that we got to hear our son take command of the Spanish language and order the hot chocolate classic in the Cafe Tortoni (one of the oldest cafes ) and direct difficult cab drivers to La Boca, home to La Bombonera football stadium, pink and blue houses and yet more street tango.
Having opted for an AirbnB apartment close to Palermo Soho (or one of the Palermos) rather than a hotel we were delighted to find it looked just like the photos and there was a bakery on the corner.
Corners are what you look for in Buenos Aires as most of them feature a restaurant you struggle to walk past because of the design, lighting or smell coming from the kitchen.
Steak is king in Argentina and if you aren’t a kosher keeper this is carnivore- heaven. Sushi is also excellent and abundant along with ice-cream and the Malbec wine which I’d readily have on tap in London.
We never made it to the only kosher McDonalds outside Israel, but with a Jewish community the size of our own we wanted to take the Jewish tour and were picked up by gregarious Natalie who took us to the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA).
The centre operates admirably as a mixture of Jewish Care and JW3 by looking after those in need and supporting the arts. Tragically it is better known as the site of Argentina’s most deadly bomb attack which killed 85 people in 1994.
It has since been rebuilt and activities take place 24/7, but the sad history is depicted in all the art work. A visit to the oldest synagogue is part of the tour and the wholesale clothing district which seems to be occupied by our people wherever you go in the world.
Natalie was delightful company and chatted away until she dropped us at the Recoleta cemetery to pay our respects to Eva Peron. Let’s just say her tomb isn’t that easy to locate. We did however find our way to the parental home of our son’s girlfriend where we really got to meet members of the Jewish community, many of whom are fluent in Yiddish.
This was handy as I don’t speak Spanish but a bit of ‘sechel’ and a lot of ‘nachas’ got me through – at least until they suggested a tango.
• The Jewish tour in Buenos Aires is £170pp for a private tour with two people, and can be booked through www.realworldholidays.co.uk/argentina/