• Feature: Under The Southern Cross Part 3

    Final Argosy - Viva Tango!

    By Tony Vallillo (12 February 2009)

    Final Argosy

    Part Three: Viva Tango!

    Some places don't grab you right away. The first layover I had in Buenos Aires was what I would come to think of as a short layover - arrive a bit before noon one day, and depart around 8 in the evening on the next. On that trip there was little time for anything other than a nap, a short stroll around the center of town and a steak dinner that night. The steak dinner turned out to be the best I had ever had in my life, as has every subsequent steak dinner in BA, but the upshot of it all was that it seemed to be waaay too long of a flight just to get a great steak! So for almost another year I returned to my usual stomping grounds in Europe.

    Porta Madera, the tony refurbished dockyards where a great many of BA's best restaurants are located.

    The San Telmo district by night

    Plaza Dorrega from the balcony of La Pergola de San Telmo -- fine dining indoors or out!

    Things always change, though, and the change in question was the appearance, on the November bid sheet some 5 years ago, of a number of BA trips with really long layovers; 4 day layovers, in point of fact. This was a rarity, at least at American Airlines, and I was intrigued. Here was the opportunity to experience more than a single steak dinner! So I bid one of them. In those 4 days I was able to explore just about every interesting corner of Buenos Aires, take in a number of Tango shows, stuff myself with Bife de Lomo (the steak in question), and generally have one hell of a good time. Thus it was that BA became, and remains to this day, one of my favorite places on earth! I just had to give it time.

    There were no more of those long trips, sad to say, but shortly afterwards a pattern of flying developed that resulted in layovers, at least for the Captain and FO, which were a day longer than the regular "short" ones. These trips resulted from the elimination of the Miami to Montevideo flight on several days of the week. On days when there was no MIA-MVD flight, one of the BA flights continued on to MVD and back, and it turned out to be the New York crew that flew the turnaround. That happened three days of the week. On the other 4 days, the New York Captain and FO had an extra day off in BA, since it was apparently easier to keep the operational tempo going at the same pace than to deadhead crews back and forth.

    Whatever the reason, I took to bidding those trips with the extra day off in BA, although I did a number of the Montevideo trips as well, just to have a look at the place. In February 2008 all of the trips had the MVD turn, which was just as well, since it would be my last chance to see that delightful city, at least as a crewmember. And so here we are on what will be the first of my goodbye flights - the last trip to Montevideo.

    On Sundays, plalza Dorrega has a fascinating flea market.


    You can see Tango everywhere in BA!

    In Europe, I generally allow myself a mere 3 hours or so for a nap upon arrival in the morning. If I fail to force myself out of bed at that point, I am in for a 10 or 11 hour "nap", and I would be up all night, ready to flop back into bed precisely at pick-up time! Since it is considered bad form to spend any time sleeping on the flight deck, this sort of time management scheme is typically avoided in favor of the short nap and the afternoon stroll, followed by dinner and, hopefully, a reasonable night's rest. Not that it always worked out that way, of course, but that was and is the standard plan, at least for me.

    The BA trip, on the other hand, is so long that a 3 hour nap is simply not enough to recover, even for dinner. Fortunately, one can sleep a full 6 or 7 hours after check-in (unlike Europe, the rooms are usually available immediately upon arrival at the hotel, around 11am) and still have the full evening for dinner and other merriment. The return trip to JFK doesn't pick up until 7pm or so, so the entire next day can be spent sleeping, if necessary. Even the pickup for the Montevideo turnaround occurs at a reasonable hour, around 11am, so one is typically in better shape the day after arrival than one would be on a Europe trip, even though the flight itself is longer and more debilitating.

    Our hotel in Buenos Aires is one of the best in the city, and the beds feature the latest in mattress technology, combined with luxurious duvets and enough pillows to outfit a Hollywood mansion! Sleep is not hard to come by under these circumstances, and my 6pm wake up rolls around all too soon. The hotel sets aside a room as a crew lounge, and it is here that members of the 5 or so crews that layover each day gather for preliminary conviviality and strategic planning. There is an air of reunion about the place, as I greet pilots and flight attendants that I have not seen in a while, and since someone has always procured a bottle or three of the local vintage and a hunk of cheese, we get an early start on the evening's entertainment.

    And yes, the women tend to be beautiful!

    Plaza de Mayo

    The Casa Rosada, sometimes called the Pink Palace

    The "strategic" planning revolves around which of the many outstanding restaurants is to be patronized tonight, and the list, as they say, is long and distinguished. Perhaps it will be Nes Nevel, a crew favorite, known to us also as "Lurch's" due to the resemblance of the proprietor to the character from "The Adams Family". There is also Don Ernesto's, owned by the brother of Lurch, and a tad more upscale in appearance. My own favorite is the Pergola de San Telmo, over on the Plaza Dorrega, which features Tango and Folk dancing almost every night, to say nothing of outstanding food. But there is always a contingent headed over to Porta Madiera, the restored dockyards, where the restaurants are all very tony and the food is exquisite.

    It may strike you as odd that I tell of flight attendants and especially pilots going to fancy expensive restaurants, given the natural proclivity toward penury that has existed in the pilot profession since the days of the Wright brothers! But Argentina is one of the few places in the world where the US dollar is still strong; and, when I was last there on this very trip, the price in dollars of a really fine dinner was around 25 or so at most! Certainly this makes BA a Captain's delight!

    Tonight we decide upon La Pergola, and our small group (several flight attendants and another pilot) hails a cab in front of the hotel. There was a time, not too long ago, when we would have made this trip on foot - it is only a 20 or so minute walk over to the San Telmo district and it is summer down here! But more recently there have been rumors of an incident or two of petty larceny perpetrated upon our brethren in these parts, and so we avail ourselves of the security of a taxi. Like everything else in BA, taxis are quite affordable, at least if you have changed dollars into Pesos.

    Teatro Colon, the largest opera house in South America

    Florida Street, the pedestrian mall in downtown BA

    Gallerias Pacifica, perhaps the finest indoor mall in town

    Plaza Dorrega is alive with people tonight, many of them dining al fresco in the square. We could do that, but the dancing will be inside the restaurant itself, so we take a table on the first floor well situated to view the entertainment later. The menu at La Pergola is excellent, featuring a wide variety of entree choices, but for me there is only one thing on the menu - Bife de Lomo, which is the local term for what we would call a filet mignon. Argentine beef is justly world famous, and indulging in it is one of the principal reasons I fly this trip! In several dozen trips down here over the last 5 years I have never had a bad steak. And tonight is no exception!

    After dinner, we are treated to an exposition of both Tango and Argentinean folk dancing. Throughout most of my life prior to discovering BA, I was not much of a fan of the dance. Oh, I could appreciate the skill, the athleticism and the dedication that dancing demands at the professional level, but I must confess that neither ballet nor River Dance really aroused in me any but the most fleeting interest. All of that changed, however, when I started flying to Buenos Aires.

    The dance known as Tango originated here in the late nineteenth century, down on the waterfront around the area known as La Boca, if the legends are to be believed. Immigrant sailors, lacking women partners, often danced with each other, but it was not long before the local prostitutes gravitated to the scene and that is, perhaps, why to this day the female dancers often dress like turn-of-the-century ladies of the evening! However earthy its origins may have been, the dance is often ethereal in its beauty. It is, by turns, both pure and frankly sexual, and it lays out for us in stylized steps the duality of human attraction, a conundrum with which the world has struggled since Adam and Eve.

    Belgrano Park - near the north end of Florida Street

    One of the many beautiful fountains in the city -- with the blooms of summer everywhere!

    For whatever reason, (in all honesty most likely the beautiful women, but this must never be known to She-Who-Must!) I became a Tango aficionado from the first time I saw it, and remain one to this very day. So much so that I began taking Tango lessons on layovers a few years ago, studying with a couple who danced at my other favorite Buenos Aires hangout, La Barrica. These two, who are among the very best Tango dancers in all BA, have become my good friends over the last few years. However, despite their amazing expertise and their outstanding teaching ability, I am possessed of two left feet, and Tango requires a right foot in the mix somewhere! To this day, I am only a struggling beginner.

    Another view of Belgrano park

    The Botanical gardens and park

    This modern bridge is one of several that link downtown with Porta Madera

    The best way to introduce yourself to Tango if you are down here would be to take in one of the major Tango shows. These are full blown stage productions, and most of them are put on as dinner shows, in large halls dedicated to that single purpose. The first one I saw was perhaps the most famous - a show named after the man who, although a singer rather than a dancer, became Tango's most recognizable celebrity - Carlos Gardel. The show at Esquina Carlos Gardel is dedicated to the memory of the man who popularized Tango all over the world in the 1920's and 30's, releasing hundreds of recordings of often doleful Tango ballads, and starring in many major motion pictures on both sides of the Atlantic. The show is expensive - over $100 US at the present time - but well worth it, for the dancing at least. The food is not the best in BA, but you aren't there for the food!

    Aside from the major shows, exhibitions of Tango are to be found in many bars and restaurants, to say nothing of parks and streets, especially in the tourist and shopping areas. These dancers are the more recent graduates of the several serious schools of Tango that have been operating in BA since the revival of the dance in the Peron years. Although less flashy and opulent than the major productions, the dancing is often just as good, with excellent young men and women such as my instructors Omar Ponti and Milagros Suarez.

    The "Libertad", a training ship for Argentinean naval cadets

    Our steed awaits us for the short trip to Montevideo

    United's Montevideo flight at BA, prior to departure. He is usually the weather scout!

    Tonight the dancers are not my teachers, since those two will join me for a farewell (for the moment, at any rate) dinner tomorrow evening. But the two who entertain us are excellent indeed, and when the hat is passed I am generous, all the while hoping that word of this free-spending will not reach the professional standards committee of the union! We do, after all, have traditions of our own to uphold!

    The dance show lasts over an hour, and when we have thrilled to the last dip and whirl, it is time to return to the comforts of the hotel, the better to prepare ourselves for the duties of the 'morrow. If this were the layover with the extra day off, I would be heading out in the morning for some sightseeing and perhaps a Tango lesson from Omar and Milagros. The delight of having an entire day off in a city like Buenos Aires cannot be overstated! A typical day might include a leisurely breakfast at the outstanding buffet at the hotel, followed by a stroll down to the Plaza de Mayo, the site of the Casa Rosada, the pink palace from the balcony of which Juan Peron mesmerized the crowds. Nearby is the beginning of the pedestrian mall on Florida Street, the center of shopping in the downtown area, which features shops of every kind imaginable from leather to jewelry to music. The Gallerias Pacificas is the highlight of Florida Street - a beautiful two level indoor mall that was one of the favorites of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed when I took her on vacation here a few years back!

    The Peron-era main terminal building at Ezieza

    The canine gauchos roust an interloper!

    Central BA as we climb out of 10,000 feet.

    Florida Street is close to the studio where I would meet Milagros and Omar for my Tango lessons, and after an hour or so of flawless demonstrations followed by clumsy attempts at imitation on my part, we might repair to the nearby Recolleta district for a late lunch. Recolleta is also home to the cemetery that is the final resting place for the charismatic Eva Peron, wife of the former dictator and made famous yet again by a Broadway show some years back. Evita's grave is one of the major tourist sites in BA, especially among the Argentineans from out of town.

    But all of this sightseeing is out of the question today, for the FO and I must saddle up once again and undertake one of the shortest flights in the AA schedule. The distance from Ezeiza Airport to Carrasco Airport in Montevideo is around 125 nautical miles as the crow flies. The flight plan distance is a bit longer - 140nm, since the route along the airways is not quite direct. Even with the extra distance and the approach, the flight plan time is 29 minutes, and that is based upon 250 knots below 10,000 feet. Here, as in many places in the world where the traffic is lighter and the FAA is conspicuous by its absence, we can be cleared for higher speeds almost as soon as the flaps are retracted. We will take advantage of this today.

    The Rio de la Plata

    Ships at anchor in the Plate, aligned with the current.

    The town of La Plata

    Pickup, as I mentioned, is around 11 am, and the ride to the airport is a bit quicker at this hour than it will be tomorrow evening. A quick visit to the operations office finds the flight plan packet prepared and ready for my signature. Once we check it over and gather it up, we proceed to the gate, where we find the newly arrived airplane waiting for us, just in from Miami. A flight from Miami to Buenos Aires is considerably shorter than the JFK marathon - "only" a bit over 8 hours, but even so it is not a good idea to have the crew that brought this flight in take it over to Montevideo in the same duty period. This would be known as a "tag leg" if it were done that way, and these were once more common than they are now. We had them on a number of Europe trips in the 1990's, such as JFK-ZRH-GVA. The European tags were dropped when it became obvious that 1) the crews were absolute zombies on the short second leg, and quite possibly a hazard to themselves and all of the birds in the air, and 2) the economics of the operation, what with only 20 or so passengers going through to the second destination, were abominable. Better to either serve the second city non-stop as well, or simply drop the service altogether. Such were the lessons learned in the early days of deregulation and the great expansion. Down here, however, we can gather Montevideo passengers from all five of our inbound trips, which often makes for a nearly full airplane, to say nothing of better economics! And so it is that we will fly these two short flights today, and reap the added benefit of another night, and another steak, in Buenos Aires!

    Montevideo Uruguay

    Carrasco Airport

    At the next gate a United 767 is also loading up for a flight to...Montevideo! Apparently a similar situation obtains over at UAL. They usually leave a few minutes ahead of us, and so I have never undertaken to learn if they, too, are doing a turnaround or are instead cursed with a tag leg. True to form, United pushes out just as we are boarding the last few passengers. We'll see him again on the other side of the world's widest river, the Rio de la Plata! Meanwhile, as he lifts off from runway 11, we push back and begin our mini-odyssey.

    Our flight plan today is simple - The PTA 6 B departure to Dorvo, followed by A305 to CRR, the VOR at Montevideo. The departure involves a slight right turn after takeoff to pick up the 126 radial of the EZE VOR out to the 4 DME fix, after which a left turn is made to intercept the 290 radial inbound to PTA. A dogleg turn takes us to the DORVO intersection, from whence A305 is a straight shot over to Carrasco, the airport for Montevideo. Fuel load today is a whopping 31,300 lb, of which around 10,000 lb is ferry fuel. Apparently fuel is cheaper here in Buenos Aires!

    A 5 minute taxi brings us to the end of the runway, where we wait a few moments while the Argentinean version of animal control shoos a stray dog from the vicinity of runway 11! After the beast has been corralled, and the canine gauchos have headed back to the estancia, we receive clearance for takeoff. This leg belongs to the FO, so that the final good-bye leg will be mine. He calls for autothrottles and N1, and we are off, rotating in an absurdly short distance to a remarkably nose high attitude, to keep the speed from getting out of hand.

    We catch up with United at Carrasco

    Our hotel for the short "layover" in Montevideo

    The Rambla, the long beachfront boulevard

    Immediately upon contacting departure control, we ask for and are granted the high speed climb. With that clearance in hand we quickly accelerate to 330 knots, which will cut a few minutes off the flight! We also get clearance direct to DORVO, which is the FIR boundary in this area. Further clearances will come from Montevideo, and we are switched over to them in no time. Meanwhile, we have leveled off at FL170, our planned cruise altitude for the few minutes we will be in level flight. There is no point in turning off the seatbelt sign for such a short time, so we leave it on, and I make a very brief welcome aboard announcement. Most of the passengers on this flight are through passengers from Miami and points north, so they have been living on the airplane for the last 10 hours or so, with only the brief deplaning at EZE to allow them to stretch their legs. There are few originating passengers, since there is service from the other BA airport, the Aeroparque Jorge Newberry, which is right downtown, to say nothing of high speed ferry service that takes only a couple of hours dock to dock. It's hard to compete with that, even with a widebody!

    After but a few minutes of cruise it is time to descend. Once again we have in hand a clearance for "high speed", and we will take advantage of it by maintaining a speed of 330 knots or so until 15 miles from the airport. There is virtually no general aviation down here, so there is little risk of getting too close to another airplane. Nonetheless, we still check the TCAS frequently, and I spend most of my time looking out the window in case there is another airplane around that slipped under the radar, so to speak!

    Downtown Montevideo

    The setting sun leads us back to BA

    BA twinkles in the twilight as we approach Ezieza

    The weather in MVD is the same as it was at BA - beautiful! The winds are out of the east at 10 knots, which suggests that runway 06 may be on order. I have never landed on this runway, having used runway 19 in my previous visits. The VOR/DME approach to 06, which we are instructed to join, takes you right past the downtown area of Montevideo. By this time we have slowed to a speed conducive to extension of flaps and landing gear, and the FO has the approach well in hand. The VNAV feature of the FMC backed up by the PAPI light system keeps us right on a comfortable glide path, and the resulting landing is a smooth one. A short taxi brings us to the ramp and we shut down on the hardstand in front of the terminal, which looks like a U.S airport of the 1950's. All of that will have changed by the time you read this, since a new terminal has been under construction at MVD for a while and is likely in service by now. But this one has considerable charm, at least to an old timer like me who, as a child, flew out of a terminal or two that looked just like this!

    The post-flight duties attended to, we board the bus along with the last of the passengers. The terminal and the customs formalities are a hundred yard drive away, and when we have run the gauntlet we stroll on out to the landside to board another bus. Most turnaround trips involve very little time on the ground, hardly enough to do some duty free shopping in the terminal. But our return flight to BA does not leave until 19:20 this evening, which leaves us with around 5 hours or so in Montevideo. The company provides us with hotel accommodations near the airport in these circumstances, and it is to this delightful hideaway that we now proceed, a journey of only around 5 minutes or so door to door!

    Block party in San Telmo

    Milagros and Omar, my Tango instructors and good friends!

    Milagros and Omar in action

    For the entire duration of my employment at American, over 31 years all told, the provision of accommodations for these short layovers has been a standard feature of the contract. In the mid 1980's the required layover length changed from 4 to 5 hours, but that has been the only alteration. In the earliest years of my career I had flights like this, B-707 trips that left JFK late in the evening and flew up to Syracuse or Rochester, arriving around midnight, and departing at 5 or 6 in the morning back to JFK, to continue on to the Caribbean an hour or so later with another, more senior, crew at the helm This sort of trip has become much less common at American since the 80's, but it is standard fare at the regional airlines, where it is referred to as a "stand up overnight", a reference to the lack of accommodations provided to regional crews, at least in the early days of that part of the industry. Often a regional crew would have to "layover" on the airplane, since nothing more appealing was available in the terminal or the operations office, which were probably closed and locked in any event! It was a trying existence, to be sure, which is one reason why so many regional airline pilots jumped ship to the majors at the first opportunity, despite the fact that for many it was a pay cut to do so.

    Our hotel is a charming small property on a large pond, complete with a swimming pool and also a restaurant, which is my first destination after getting my room key. The beef is just as good on this side of the river, and the hamburger is considerably better than most offerings north of the equator. Several of the cabin crew join me and I avail myself of the opportunity to get to know the locals, since the flight attendants for this turnaround are based in Buenos Aires and are all native to South America. This was part of the complete package we acquired from Eastern - several flight attendant crew bases in South America, along with all of the station personnel and, of course, Flight Support Lima. These flight attendants are an outstanding group, and the job has much higher status down here than it tends to have in the USA and Europe. They also seem to be quite respectful of pilots, or at least of El Capitan, which probably reflects the culture of this area. Whatever the reason, I have always looked forward to the opportunity to work with these fine folks!

    Time for breakfast!

    Caminito as you step out of the taxi

    I have arranged for a quick tour of Montevideo with the driver of the bus that brought us from the airport. After lunch I hop aboard, the only crewmember to do so today, since the FO has declared the intention of taking a nap, and the flight attendants have all visited Montevideo many times. So I have an entire bus and guide to myself as we head out along the Rambla, the boulevard that skirts the ocean and the Rio de la Plate. I had always thought that the name Montevideo alluded to the view from some mountain or other, but the actual history is more interesting. The word derives from an entry on a navigation chart made by one of the first European explorers to lay eyes on the area. The entry was roughly Monte VI de Este a Oest, literally the "sixth mountain (counting) from east to west". This was shortened to Montevideo and the name apparently stuck!

    After an hour or so exploring a city of considerable charm and beauty, we return to the hotel, where I find the usual complementary dessert set up for our departure. This little feast features two of my favorite dishes - Flan custard and Dulce de Leche, which is similar to caramel and just as fattening! (These trips are a good part of the reason that I started a diet shortly after retiring!) After sampling these culinary delights we all pile into the bus for the 5 minute drive back to the airport.

    The flight plan for the first leg of AA 900 (the flight continues to Miami after the stop in BA) shows a flight time of 31 minutes. The filed route is direct DAGUS, A306 EZE. We will likely fly the DAGUS 1 M departure to SARGO, which is a point on A306. The filed altitude is FL180. Our fuel load is what was left over from the first flight - "as aboard", which is 23,000 lb. I also note that while I was wandering around Montevideo the wind shifted, and it now favors runway 24. This will be our plan for tonight.

    The most colorful part of town -- Caminito

    The Boca residents are fiercely proud of their neighborhood

    When we arrive at the airplane I meet with the ground staff, which, as is often the case, is comprised mostly of young (and attractive) women! It never ceases to amaze me how the fortunes of world-wide enterprises are, at the local level, in the hands of relative youngsters! Capable hands too, I must say, since they do an outstanding job with both the passenger and operational sides of our presence here. I take the small group aside to reveal to them the secret of my impending departure from the American Airlines scene, and they kindly consent to a group picture, the first of several that will be taken over the next month or so. Having thus made the first of my premeditated farewells, I saddle up and prepare to take the silver steed across the big river for the last time!

    Actually, I have already made a great many "last flights" into various places, some of them now years in the past, and all of them final argosies only in retrospect. It has been decades, for example, since I flew into Indianapolis, and if I troubled to examine my logbooks I could indeed find the last flight. But at the time I flew that trip I had no idea that it would be a finale. Nor was I aware a few months ago that a certain ZRH trip would be the last one, nor BRU, nor much of the Caribbean. Since I had been flying to Rome in the previous months, and will do so again in the final month to come, there have been no known last trips for me until today. This is the first of the final argosies. It is not, however, a major emotional event, since it is neither the last leg of this trip nor the last trip to South America. But it is something special nonetheless.

    A beautiful tourist hams it up with the male dancer while his partner looks on!

    The flea market at Caminito

    These large figures beckon from many an upper window, as no doubt did the agreeable ladies of an earlier era

    We push back right on the advertised, at 19:20 local time, which is only early evening in these summertime latitudes. By the time we taxi past the new terminal construction on the way to runway 24 the sun is just hanging low on the horizon ahead of us. The thought strikes me, as I taxi onto the runway, that this same sun is beginning to set on my career; and indeed an inordinate number of my subsequent flights will feature spectacular sunsets. This thought, though, is fleeting, because regardless of the sentiments that may attach to a flight, concentration is still required, especially on takeoff roll. As we climb out, a slight left turn puts us on course for DAGUS and I bid a last farewell to the controllers in the tower. This will be a ritual I will follow on all of my last flights - a Thank You to all of the men and women of Air Traffic Control, past and present, who have guided and protected my flights over the years from towers and radar scopes around the world.

    Freed once again from the speed limit, we step on out to around 330 knots and turn towards SARGO and La Plata, a large town just inland from the river. The sky is gorgeous this evening and I contrive to hand fly the entire leg to savor the sensations of handling this wonderful machine. Too bad I can't have one of my own to play with after I retire! Oh well, LDS will have to do!

    Music and dancing go hand in hand with fine food

    All too soon it is time to descend and slow down. We manage to talk the controllers at Ezeiza into allowing us to join a right hand downwind pattern for a visual approach to runway 11. Visual patterns like this are infrequent in an airliner, at least a big one like the 767. Most airports just have too much traffic to allow for approaches like this, but this evening, coming from the east as we are, it is the most expeditious way to land, since we can stay closer to the airport than would be the case if we flew the entire teardrop pattern for the ILS approach from overhead, which we have had to do on occasion when another airplane was arriving straight-in from the west.

    The pattern is flown just like you would fly it in a Cherokee or Cessna, except that we usually fly around 1500 feet above the ground instead of 1000, and the pattern is a good bit wider than the one a small plane would fly. As we pass abeam the terminal on the downwind leg, I start extending flaps, and the gear comes down as we turn onto the base leg, on a heading 90 degrees from the runway heading. Final flaps are set in the turn to final approach, and we use the ILS and PAPI for vertical guidance as we approach the threshold. A bit of a flare and we are down smoothly, which is always satisfying, to the ego if to nothing else! Mosey on over to the terminal, and shut 'er down, and it is time to head to the hotel once again. I have a dinner date tonight with my Tango instructors!

    By the time we return to the hotel, the nightly pour-out in the crew room is in full swing. It takes but a short time to shed the suit-of-lights, shower and shave, and join the party for a few minutes. But I don't tarry long, because I am meeting my friends at another restaurant in San Telmo, one that I have not previously visited. This place, the name of which unfortunately escapes me now, is apparently associated with a famous soccer player for the Boca Juniors, one of the better of the local teams, and is festooned with sports memorabilia. The food turns out to be excellent, which is certainly no surprise in Buenos Aires. My friends arrive right on time, borne on a small motorcycle since the weather is fine. We have a delightful evening on the town, and all too soon it is time to call an end to the festivities - we all work tomorrow, but they must begin their day much earlier than I will. So we say our goodbyes, which are hopefully not final, since I plan to return here on vacation after I retire. It has been a real pleasure knowing Milagros and Omar, and you can see a bit of their outstanding Tango dancing here.

    "La Barrica", my favorite place in all BA!

    Outdoor Tango and dining at La Barrica

    Senor Alfredo Molina, the finest bandoneon player in BA, chats with one of the dancers during a break

    Next morning I awaken at my leisure from a truly restful sleep, something of an oddity on a layover in the international division! Of course, the duty day will not begin until this evening, so there is still time for some additional entertainment in BA. My day of departure ritual has been fixed for some years now - breakfast at the hotel and sightseeing followed by lunch at La Barrica, my favorite place in Buenos Aires. La Barrica is right in the middle of Caminito, the colorful center of the old harbor quarter of the city which is known as La Boca. Here amid the gaily painted corrugated tin buildings are a plethora of shops and restaurants that are a magnet for tourists from all over the world, at least at lunchtime. I have never been there any later than around 4pm, and apparently it really swings, so to speak, only in the middle of the day. For lunch it can't be beat, because just about every restaurant features Tango! This is where I met Milagros and Omar - they were regular dancers here when I began to frequent the place.

    La Barrica is owned by a retired AA'er, Senor Bringas. He spent a career working at Ezeiza, a career which spanned AA, Eastern, and Braniff. He has always made us feel right at home, and the place is as charming as the food is outstanding! Life holds few greater pleasures than this: to enjoy a beautiful day, an excellent meal and some superb dancing. I even get to try a few of my hesitant Tango steps with the female of the pair, a bit of fun that has been captured for all to see by one of the several members of the crew who have joined me today at La Barrica! The only thing missing is a bit of vino to top it off; but, since we go on duty in less than 8 hours, that is, of course, out of the question!

    Several of my crew look on as the Tango show goes on

    El Capitan showing off his steps with the female dancer at La Barrica! She Who Must has approved this picture!

    After an absolutely superb afternoon, it is time to head back to the hotel. A good nap will fortify body and soul for the long night's labors to come, so I bid you adieu until pick up time some 5 hours hence!

    Continued in Under the Southern Cross 4 - Adios Amigos!

    Anthony Vallillo
    [email protected]

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    Last Post By: Rupert Today, 12:52 PM Go to last post

    Yeeeeeeeeeeee, haaaaaaaaa! I feel the need for speed!

    Thread Starter: Downwind66

    Wow, what a ride! Stay tuned, this has to happen again SOON! Rick :cool:

    Last Post By: Rupert Today, 12:48 PM Go to last post

    Near Crater Lake Or.

    Thread Starter: Rupert

    Hi folks, I starting to get things up and running again. These shots should show if I'm successful? Rupert

    Last Post By: Rupert Today, 12:42 PM Go to last post

    A321 Long Haul San Diego to Portland, Maine

    Thread Starter: DAVIDSTRAKA

    Leaving out early morning About an hour to destination, I found out the range of the A 321 is what I thought. (FS unlimited fuel...

    Last Post By: DAVIDSTRAKA Today, 12:36 PM Go to last post