On Friday I turned 24, and walking into the office in the morning with a bag filled with croissants (the tradition here is the birthday person brings in food), my friend Vero immediately came over to tug on my earlobe 24 times. Apparently that’s also a tradition in Argentina, and by the end of the 24 tugs my ear was red and ringing, but I guess it beats the punches I would have expected. The day passed by easily enough, and two of my coworkers took me out for a lunch at a grill near the office. The plan at night was to go out to dinner and then hit up some salsa dancing in San Telmo. Though salsa isn’t very popular here, it’s more of a niche thing that people do sometimes for a different night. My birthday was the occasion this time around.
With some friends I headed to Cumaná in Recoleta. The restaurant is located on Rodriguez Peña 1149 y Avenida Santa Fe and is known for good food, a friendly atmosphere, and cheap prices. We got there are 8 pm which is pretty early for Buenos Aires, but still had to wait an hour for a table for eight people. Waiting outside in the cold, everyone slowly showed up, including Liz, a former volunteer from Ecuador who is working in Montevideo for a couple of months. She used the birthday excuse to come to Buenos Aires for the weekend and hang out.
Once inside and with the table squared away, we ordered out dishes. Ironically they forgot to bring out my dish but quickly brought it up once I spoke up, and we had a really nice meal. I was even caught off guard by the birthday ice cream/brownie dessert, and the entire restaurant started to sing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish. After the dinner we went down to Cuba Mía, a salsa club down in San Telmo on Salta 508 y Venezuela. I’d been there a couple of times back in October and November but hadn’t been back since. It started out with a pretty elaborate show, but finally they cleared the tables to allow for dancing.
Overall it wasn’t a ridiculously crazy night and only a handful of friends made it out, but that’s all I really needed anyway. I’ve never had so many people ask me my age on my birthday and follow up the answer with, “Go to hell, asshole.” Apparently I’m still a young guy, or only know older people. Or both. Saturday was a tired and hungover day, understandably, but I walked around with Liz in the afternoon by the Recoleta Cemetery, and we were able to catch up. The last time I’d seen her was September of 2008. For the night we had plans on going out, but after a dinner in Palermo and hanging out with my friend Javier back at the apartment, we were too tired to do anything. In the end it was a better decision because I was still exhausted from Friday night.
Today was low key still, with cold, gray and rain. I showed Liz around by the Microcentro, Plaza de Mayo, and into the Casa Rosada for a bit before seeing her off. So now the weekend has ended quietly, and after a small steak dinner tonight that I’m going to cook, it’s back to work and the regular grind on Monday. The next milestone to look forward to is a year anniversary in Argentina next month.