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Habitaciones en alquiler May 17, 2006

Posted by tangoandthecity in Whatever.

Apologies to anyone who's been directed here by Google. I don't have a room to rent. But if you have a few moments, read on – you may be interested in what I have to say on the subject.

Somehow, despite the fact that I have moved constantly in the last 15 years, rarely staying in the one place for longer than a year, I've never experienced the kind of all-consuming flat hunting mission that can occupy people with months. Perhaps I've been lucky – the perfect place, or at least one I was prepared to settle for, always popped up at the right time. Or maybe I've just been lazy – projecting perfection onto houses and rooms and flatmates so that I could avoid the onerous search – because, come to think of it, most places I've lived in have failed to meet my expectations. Or giving up, believing it to be fate, thinking that it's simply not the right time, or the right place. But laziness, luck or fate, I'd somehow escaped. Until now. I thought it would be a reasonably straight forward process. True to form, the first place I ever stayed in this city, only one of two that I looked at, was $200 US a month for a room in a refurbished antique apartment in a fantastic location. Unfortunately this time, this room was not available, but I was determined to find something similar: a room in or near San Telmo, in an antique building, with some natural light and preferably for under $250. No such luck.

Over the course of 10 days, scouring the net and local notice boards, contact agencies and talking to friends, there were only a handful of places that even seemed worth looking at. And of those 10 or so rooms, all were either too small, or too dark (a common problem in the older buildings in the city, as rooms are constructed around a central, internal courtyard) too expensive or not available. San Telmo had either soared in popularity in the past few months or I had originally been misled.

I began looking further afield, in Congreso. I looked at more expensive rooms but in the end couldn't justify the price. I veered towards the fatalistic (a habit of mine) and began to think that maybe it wasn't to be. Maybe I wasn't supposed to be in Buenos Aires. Perhaps it was time for me to go home. But I knew that if I went home now, without having learned to tango, I'd be disappointed. So I kept searching.

After 10 days or so of constant searching, I found a place. It's not perfect. It's in Montserrat not San Telmo. The room has natural light but it's right on the street – the traffic noise is so loud it's as though it's amplified. There are expensive breakables everywhere and I smashed a lamp (and almost elecrocuted myself) within moments of moving in. The decor is OTT – leopard skin rugs and cushion covers, gilded mirrors, chandeliers and potted palms, a fusion of Las Vegas and Louis XIV kitch, with some African and Asian stylings thrown in. But my room is large, I have my own living space, my own bathroom and even, should I need it, a space to practice tango. And to be honest, the kitchness of it all is part of the appeal.

The owners are a couple of tangueros – an old-school Argentinean milonguero and his American wife. They met when she was out here on a tango tour and after spending a few years back in the States relocated out here. It's kind of like living with my grandparents which is actually quite nice. My last grandparent died two years ago and, despite the fact the fact I hadn't stayed with her for years (she'd long been in a nursing home) it wasn't until after her death that I began to feel nostalgic for the tranquil days spent in her apartment, for that contact with another era. And it's appropriate really – because this old-worldiness is also a big part of the appeal of tango.



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