At the outset of May, we were lucky to have Emily and Stewart visiting from NYC. The first weekend they were in town, however, featured a great tragedy. I'm not sure if I have mentioned it on this blog before, but I have declared my futbol allegiance here in Argentina. Soy hincha del Club Atletico Independiente. That happens to be the same team as Belu. As Stewart is a sports journalist, we decided we should definitely take him and Emily to a soccer match. It just so happened that we were nearing the end of the season, and there was a hugely important game between our team and Argentinos Juniors. Argentinos were in first place, with Independiente in third. With only one remaining game, the winner would have an excellent chance of taking the title. So we decided to go. Independiente was easily ruling the day when the wheels fell off. Despite a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes go go, the Red Devils gave up three goals and lost the match with just seconds remaining. It was a remarkable collapse. We're talking a Dough Flutie Hail Mary times three with the championship in the balance. Stewart and Emily got to witness a treat, but Belu and I (especially Belu) were not happy campers.
But we eventually got over it thanks to some thick steak and sweet dulce de leche. At this point, we have the "hosting" thing down, so we were able to show our guests the best parilla, tango show, and ice cream parlors. Everything above that is gravy, but we had plenty of gravy, too. On the second weekend, we took an excursion to Estancia La Juanita in Chascomús. This was my first trip to an Argentine Estancia, and though it was a bit cold, the food was delicious, the air clean, and the surroundings peaceful. We usually only get one of those three in the city.
Stewart gives Mate a go. Emily looks on approvingly.
We made up our own names for these dogs. But I can't remember them now. The white one should have been called "crazy."
We had to keep the fire in the room burning all night. This meant sleep came in three hour stretches. It also meant we came home smelling like barbecue. Of course, if you gotta smell like something, there are worse odors out there.
We capped off a great visit with another trip to Tea Connection, I feared a bit for Stewart's return to New York as he became borderline dependent during the week - it just means he has to come back. By all accounts he is surviving just fine, but certainly misses the "Come to Papa."
After their departure, I began putting things in place for the big event in May. Not my 35th birthday, but it took place on the same day. For a long time, I felt that Belu was not just the right girl for me, but the best thing in my life. So I was ready to take the plunge. I knew I was dating my future wife, and it was time to let her know, too. With Emily's help, I was able to get the right ring here without the risk of getting scammed by an Argentine jeweler. The big problem would be the surprise. It wasn't like we hadn't discussed the future. Heck, we'd even discussed the type of ring.
It's not very often that we get dressed up to go out for a fancy dinner. So I decided my birthday would be perfect cover. My plan was set to have a drink at the very fancy Bibliotheque Bar in the Sofitel, make my proposal, and then follow with dinner. Unfortunately, when it was time to go, the rain was coming down in sheets. Belu said, "Well, we can skip the bar and just wait for rain to stop." I think I said, "No." We snagged a taxi and arrived relatively dry. But because of the weather the Bibliotheque was full of old, rich hotel guests who were afraid to brave the conditions. So instead we sat in the adjoining Cafe Arroyo. It's not quite as elegant, and there were people in there working on laptops and having casual conversations. But I couldn't deviate from the plan...
I waited until our drinks had arrived to ensure that there would be no interruption from the waiter. I told Belu what she means to me, and how happy I am with her. More importantly, we talked about the future and how many great things we have awaiting us. At this point I probably went off script a bit. I'm not sure if I ended up asking her the question directly or not. But once she saw the ring, she was all smiles.
A few minutes after Belu said "Yes!"
Belu said, "I want to call my Mom." The other surprise was that I had already called to tell her my intentions (and ask her permission), and that she would be meeting us for dinner. I think I wasn't the only one whose face hurt from smiling all night. So my life took a very big step forward. I don't feel old for 35, but I feel more mature. More importantly, I'm ready to begin a new chapter. Pretty soon it will become official.
Wedding plans are rolling along and you can read all about them here.
Other writing from May:
A to B Back and Forth Movie Review: Iron Man II
Top 50 Albums #24: The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots