Me and C. decide on this Sunday’s adventure. Rented bikes around the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur. I’m delighted that the clouds are hiding el sol because I’m peeling from last week’s trip to the beach and I don’t want even a single ray of UV to touch my skin. As I leave the apartment I grab one of C’s long-sleeved shirts, in case the sun does decide to show its face, and as it turns out it’s a good job I do. I should be careful what I wish for because by the time we’ve trained it to Retiro and taxied it to the southern entrance of the Costanera, it’s absolutely pouring with rain, I’ve got the shirt on for wind protection and the anticipated bikes-for-rent vans have vanished taking with them any last remnants of our little plan.
We shelter in a mediocre takeaway food place (the only one in sight, with an indoors) and I pick at blessedly-hot french fries while wishing the iced Coke infront of me was a steaming coffee, shivering and trying to keep a smile on my face. The rain sheets down, and Carlos sees the stressed child in me: cold, disappointed that my little escapist dream of bikes and nature has been shattered, and wanting to be teleported back to Palermo prontisimo. Come here, he says, and gives me a huge hug. How about when the rain eases, we walk down to the northern entrance to get warm? We both know there’s no choice about it. We don’t have a car. There are no taxis. We’re at least twenty blocks from the city side of Puerto Madero. Great idea, I say. And we start walking.
To my amusement C. strips off his T-shirt (the second week in a row he’s done that for me) and makes me put it on over my shirt. When you’ve warmed up I’ll have it back. People stare at us: me, a dishevelled woman in an odd collection of mens’ clothing, and him, a half naked man, both laughing, both with raindrops dripping off our noses.
Half way down the Costanera Sur, there’s a big pergola where you can look out over the reserve and we stop there for a while, taking photos of each other (I give back the T-shirt, to spare C’s blushes), complaining about the horrible collection of rubbish that people have tipped over the edge into the water and wondering who is going to live in the massive tower blocks (so far from any vegetable shops) going up on the other side of the road.
We walk on. Between the pergola and the northern entrance to the park is the quietest section of the promenade. Down here there are fewer food stalls, less people (on a drizzly day anyway) and definitely less rubbish checked over into the green. As we pass one of the parrilla stands down here, C. stops me. Now, this is where I wish I’d eaten my choripán, he announces, Look at those freshly made salads. For a moment we pause and stare at the obviously-much-loved mobile kitchen: strings of lights in the trees overhead, young men constantly wiping the surfaces around the bowls of delicious-looking sauces, even toilet cabins alongside, neatly labelled with the name of the place: Mi Sueño (My dream). Why don’t you eat another chori? I say, and I feel C.’s energy start to move towards the counter before his body shifts an inch.
While he orders, I see a man piling salad onto a slice of steak, and I am hooked too. Lomito? I ask. The owner spots I’m not from these parts (as usual my clumsy, but I’m told, appealing) accent gives me away, and before I know it I’ve been invited into the kitchen to cook my very own steak on the parrilla. Wow! It’s hot over those glowing coals, and I’m all warmed up by the smiles of the staff who put tongs in my hands so that I can turn the perfect slices of meat, and I pose for pictures as C. snaps away. Afterwards we chat with the owner as we eat, and tell him that the passion so obviously poured into his business drew us in with its up-energy. He understands.
Eventually, tummies full to bursting, we pull ourselves away and continue our walk towards the Avenida Cordoba end of the Costanera Sur. Still no bikes for rent. But folk near the entrance to the park tell us it’s just the rain. Normally on Saturdays and Sundays you can just roll up and pay for a couple of hours cycling. Another day, we resolve. Truth is, we’ve kind of forgotten about our original plan. Instead, we are brimming over with the effect on us of the Mi Sueño we discovered en camino, just because we happened to be stranded at one end of the Costanera in the rain, and walked to the other end. It’s got to be a sign, says C. We thought it was all a mini-disaster, but you know what Sal? Sometimes, it’s best not to think at all.
This week I’m working on keeping my mind quiet and still. I’m waiting on information. Doing what I can to progress things in the meantime. But worrying? Or conjuring up mini-disasters? Well, every time one pops into my head today, I’ll be replacing it with a memory of the most cared for and welcoming parrilla stand on the Costanera Sur. Mi Sueño: a perfectly-timed (and no coincidence there I am sure) reminder that just when you think all is lost, the best is usually just around the corner, waiting to make dreams you never even knew you had, come true.