Buenos Aires – I haven’t seen every show of Cirque du Soleil, though I’d have liked to. I think most of them are available on DVD now, maybe I’ll see if I can grab them from the internet… I did see Varekai when it was in New York a couple of years ago and loved it. When it was announced a few months ago that Cirque was launching their first ever South American tour, with a showing of Saltimbanco, their oldest touring show, we decided to get tickets. We almost didn’t manage. The Ticketek Argentina website was so overwhelmed with orders that the inexpensive seats had all sold out within minutes of the opening of sales. Much as we wanted to see it, the few remaining 180-275 peso seats ($60-89) and 450 peso seats ($150), were just not really affordable (yes, I know that in New York I think my friends and I paid over $100 for seats, but we were all working at the time, earning money, that sort of thing). Apparently after a few days, Cirque realized that those more expensive seats just weren’t selling – few people here are going to pay those kind of prices for any show. So as best I could tell they repriced everything left significantly lower – and we happened to see the “news flash” about it on television one night – hopped on the internet immediately, and scored a couple of what had been 180 peso seats at 90 pesos each!
Last night we set out on this adventure, and it was a bit of one. First, we realized yesterday afternoon that we had no clear idea where the show was being held. The tickets didn’t specify. Neither did Ticketek’s website. Neither did Cirque du Soleil’s. They all just said Costanera Sur. Well that’s a long stretch… it refers to the entire riverbank from the downtown district all the way to La Boca. It includes a promenade, parks, the ecological reserve, hotels along one side, a casino or two. We decided to trust in fate and figured that given that the show was into its second week, most cabbies here would either know where it was being held, or be able to call in to their dispatcher to find out. Wrong. Our cabbie didn’t have a clue. He remembered seeing ads for Cirque, but that’s about it. Ditto his dispatcher. Ditto every cabbie he hailed out the window. But we gamely headed for the Costanera Sur, figuring it was highly unlikely that it was along the promenade stretch, there being no where to put the show, we started at the western park end of it. Soon enough, we saw a small sign mounted on a lightpole with an arrow, and started down a winding road, and lo and behold, there were circus tents! Turned out, had we gotten off on the promenade, it was walkable in a matter of five minutes, but coming by car required a bit of wandering around. Also given that we were early, we didn’t have the long stretch of vehicles headed that way that began to show up 20 minutes later.
I’m not going to review the show, there’s nothing in particular I have to say about it. I love Cirque’s performances. I enjoy the music, the dance, the acrobatics, the colors. It’s the kind of circus that if I’d have ever run away to join one, would have been the one to head to. It’s not really a circus – sure there are clowns and acrobats, but it’s really more of an acrobatic dance spectacular. And there’s always some sort of story to go with it – in this case, Saltimbanco is, according to the official website, “a celebration of life. Conceived as an antidote to the violence and despair so prevalent in the 20th century, this phantasmagoria offers up a new vision of urban life, overflowing with optimism and joy. Saltimbanco is anything but linear; rather, it is a kaleidoscope, a whirlwind, an adventure in which anything can happen. Saltimbanco has its own special language, and its spirit is conveyed through voice, movement and music.” It was indeed.
Leaving turned into another adventure. I guess the lack of cabbie knowledge should have given us a clue. Along with the hundreds of other people at the end of the show standing outside thinking… we’re out in a field, in the middle of nowhere, none of the cabbies knew where it was to get us here, of course there’s not a single cab waiting at the end of the show…” Nope, not a one. Not like the end of shows in New York, with lines of cabs out front. We were, very simply, on a more or less deserted back road, where there’s no reason for a cab to travel normally, and none headed that way. Folks who have regular cab companies that they call were breaking out their cellphones and ordering radio cabs, but probably looking at anywhere from 15-30 minute waits, maybe even longer. It was a beautiful night last night, so we started walking. After all, the promenade, as I said, turned out to be only a few minutes away.
We figured, correctly thankfully, that once we got there we’d either find a cab cruising along the promenade, or at worst, another ten minute walk into Puerto Madero Este, where cabs are plentiful. Along the way, we found that all those mobile parrillas I’ve mentioned before, and the smell of the smoke and cooking meat got our mouths watering. So, at the second stand in, we grabbed a couple of choripan and munched on them as we walked. About the time we finished them, we’d made it to about the tenth parrilla, so we grabbed another. Definitely different, I’m back to thinking about my idea of a choripan tasteoff along the promenade – anyone want to come with me? There are a couple of dozen, so we’ll have to get one at each stand and probably each take a bite and take notes! And, as we finished those off, a cab indeed cruised on by, we flagged it down, and headed home.