Sunday, 20 May 2018

In which Moneypenny takes a break

I head towards 9 de Julio, jump into the first taxi I see and head to towards Palermo, where the night was still relatively young.  

We arrive in front of the Armenian cultural center, with my mind constantly wandering, taking me back in the events which occurred earlier this evening, I almost forget to pay the driver.  “Perdon” I tell him as I dash out.

I run down the stairs and accidentally collide with someone: “Perdon”, I blurt out a second time.

Standing before me is Adrianna. “You really must learn to be careful, you could have hurt one of us!”, she admonishes, “but I guess that’s not important to you is it, as long as you can get downstairs fast enough to get the best tandas!” she adds.  

I wish I had run into anyone else but her right now. She is accompanied by Lucia and this little mishap of mine will no doubt give them something to complain about for the rest of the evening.

“I am very sorry, it was reckless of me”, I say apologetically and then turn towards her and say: “Oh, Adrianna, I wanted to tell you, I saw Alvaro at De Querusa the other night” I stare over at Lucia and try to gauge a reaction from her, any sign of discomfort on her part, “and he couldn’t stop talking about you” I add.

“Really!” she responds excitedly in a high-pitched voice like a hyena.  “Yes, he’s quite fond of you…..says you’re very kind and elegant. He says you remind him of his mother, which, I’m sure is quite the compliment; you know how these porteños are, everything is about their mothers. Must be why they like breasts so much.  Wouldn’t you say Lucia?” I add with a smirk, they’re both going to hate me.

“Our table is ready, we will see you inside” Adrianna responds grabbing Lucia by the shoulder and rushing away from me.

I hadn’t expected them to be here tonight, especially not arriving at this hour. Was La Viruta some sort of secret meeting place for undercover agents?  Are Adrianna and Lucia involved in this somehow?  Or am I just becoming paranoid.

The smells of fresh coffee and medialunas fills the air; the dance floor is starting to empty out; dancers are slowly removing their shoes to give their aching feet a little break.  I sit in the far corner, where Bond usually sits, even in his absence I seem to gravitate towards him.  I lean over to put on my shoes and barely manage to tie my left strap when I feel a gently caress on my right shoulder: “Quieres bailar?” He asks, in that porteño accent I could never resist. “Si” I respond without hesitation; not only is he very handsome, but it’s a Troilo tanda.

I gently lean into him as we start to synchronize our bodies  and  slowly move in-tune with the dos por quatro tango compas. I close my eyes and abandon myself completely to him and to our tanda;  I want to empty my mind of everything and just enjoy this moment; enjoy his subtle perfume, his firm support as we move around the dance floor, the feel of his hand almost caressing my back; I want to forget everything else that has happened tonight.  After the first tango, we simply stay in close embrace and sway from left to right without saying a word, waiting for the next tango to start.

“Gracias” he says after the tanda is over. “Gracias a vos” I respond, “I want to go I think” I say looking directly into his eyes.  “Ok let’s go then” he responds without hesitation.  So we leave La Viruta grabbing 2 medialunas on our way out.


I slowly unlock the front door, I’m sure she’s out, it’s market day; she nevers sleeps in on Sundays.  I wonder if she noticed my absence this morning.  The house is empty, I quickly grab my things from the night before and drop off a note on her bed stand before making my way out.

I need time to think, I’m going to Bolivia to clear my mind. Don’t worry about me I’ll be fine, I’ll be back in 10 days. Don’t tell Bond.
Take care of you

Saturday, 19 May 2018

In which Bond gets a telephone call and takes a trip

Dawn over Recoleta. The sun barely catches the tops of the trees, gold fronds flickering on a morning breeze. Beneath in the gardens of San Martin the cartoneros wake from their benches and leaning against their trolleys await their timber-framed truck to carry away a haul of cardboard and plastic.

Here in my apartment the telephone rings. I stir and reach out for the receiver. “Mr Bond, you are needed in London”, says the voice, “there will be an envelope for you in the post room by first delivery”, the voice continues, and the phone goes dead.

I do not recognise the voice. It is certainly neither a familiar M nor Q. It is of a deeper timbre, British, with a military edge. Walking to the windows, I gaze out onto the square in time to see a small wheelchair disappear behind the statue of Jose Francisco de San Martin.

As the coffee pot comes to heat, Raul raps his distinctive knock on the apartment door. “This has just come for you, Mr Bond”, he proclaims as he enters closely followed by Cleo the cat, “it is marked urgent and confidential, so I thought I would bring it up straight away”.

The manila envelope is clearly MOD, and the typeface typical of the department. Slitting it open with my silver penknife, I find inside a single flight pass to RAF Northolt London, together with travel instructions to Whitehall. There are no further details. The message could not be clearer...or more obscure.

Flying the long route via the RAF station on Ascension Island, the military aircraft touches down in a grey north west London as early morning light struggles through a deep blanket of cold cloud. I wheel my small overnight case through the bare reception area and touch in to confirm my arrival. My designated car - no 67 driven by my favourite driver Mireille, who for over twenty years has collected me from airfields around Britain. “Bonjour, James”, she greets, her French Canadian accent still joyously vibrant. “So, Mireille, no gold watch, you haven’t retired yet?”, I reply, winking a bleary eye. “How dare you suggest that I might be so old”, she rejoins, “Get in the car and let’s quit this dump”. With that, probably to make a point, she seizes my case, throws it onto the back seat, shakes her blonde-grey hair and slips into the drivers side.

South Ruislip passes quickly as we join the A40 and on to the raised Westway. A morning London streams past like a silent film, overlayed only by passing small-talk. “How are the cats, MIreille? How are Richard and Paul doing with the allotment?”, I ask, stifling a yawn and thinking about coffee. “Will you be going back to Buenos Aires?”, she asks eventually. “It depends why I have been pulled out”, I reply, “You never know with the powers-that-be, they rarely tell you anything unless you need to know, and it seems, presently I don’t. I reckon they get off on their surprises”.

With road works and a diversion the 43 minute journey has taken nearly an hour. On the roofs of Whitehall the early light is still thin. A double kiss from Mirelle and she is gone. The corridors of MI5 await. “It’s going to be a long day’, I say to myself as I divert towards the canteen.

“Hey Bond”, comes a call, “what are you doing back? I thought you had gone for good. How’s the tango?”

Q smiles but looks faintly ridiculous. A container clipped to his belt sways as he simulates a tango gancho. “Ah, do you like it Bond? It’s my new design for a hands-free, non-spill cup. You see - no hands. And it tastes much better than the biodegradable cardboard ones they dish out here”, he adds.

“Have you any idea what’s going on, Q?”, I ask. One minute I am dancing tango in San Telmo; the next I am on that dreadful plane back to blighty”. “Not a clue, Bond, but why would they tell me unless they wanted something from me? And at the moment, old boy, it seems my time is filled with inventing cups”.

I am now waiting in the anteroom, the smell of fresh lilies and furniture polish competing with the receptionist’s cologne. “They will see you now”, says Tom, adding “you can leave the case here if you wish Mr Bond”. I recognise this as the voice on the phone from London as I walk towards the mahogany doors.

Behind the table sits a panel of three. “M is worried about you, Bond. It’s the usual problem”, the chair begins. “This girl - what’s her name - the one you seem to have been spending time with in Buenos Aires”.

The department always start this way. Disarmingly probing. Catching off-guard. Straight to a point - but not necessarily the point. “So, tell us about your new tango life and this...whatever-her-name is?”.

“Bond, we have her under surveillance, you know. According to M she seems to be close to retired agent S - that Sabrina woman who worked with you on ‘les desaparecidos’. “Didn’t you have a thing with her, Bond?”, a wing member questions.

“Well, we are concerned about Sabrina as it seems she has rekindled her friendship with Dr Richard Alvarez. Did you know about this, Bond?”. We have been following her to a regular meeting place - what is it now…”. My principal interrogator tails off as she shuffles through a file of papers. “Ah, yes, Peru 1824 in Constitucion”.

“I think you mean Peru 1826, Barracas”, don’t you?”, I reply. “That is where he and his Peruvian lover Jay spend their time”. “But I thought Sabrina was still on side from what M told me”, I added inquiringly.

“It seems not. She may have been compromised”, the third member explains. “Which also means that we are worried about this girl. According to M she knows too much. We need to know that she is on side - or not”, he adds ominously.

“We are keeping you here in London for the next ten days whilst we run a few more checks. Then we will fly you back to Buenos Aires in time for your next tango lesson”, the lead continues. “You can go now, Bond. Enjoy your holiday”.

With that, I close the door behind me, pick up my case from Tom and head off towards my tiny apartment in Ormond Yard, St James. I cut across St James’ Park under a line of plane trees and reflect back on Sabrina’s responses and Moneypenny’s recent transformation. ‘Maybe they have a point’, I say to myself as I slip my key into the outdoor latch and climb the stairs to Flat B.

Monday, 14 May 2018

In which Moneypenny starts to think about her future

Mr Bond

Sabrina’s resolve not to travel with Raul at the wheel of the Bentley evaporated in the evening air, impelled no doubt by the prospect of locating a taxi at this time of night, and I suspect, a desire to reassure Moneypenny whose hand she held as they slid into the rear seat. Once underway through the darkened calles of Barracas I heard a sigh from Moneypenny, but otherwise our journey silent, but for the clinking of Raul’s bottle of Malbec as it rolled in the boot.

Back at my Recoleta apartment I found my mind turning over the evening’s events, and the need to sleep seemed secondary to the desire for a single malt and the chance to think. My old arm chair beckoned from the terrace, and that is where I found myself, with moonlight glinting through a bottle of Talisker, and Cleo the cat arching gently against my leg.

Recoleta, so busy and bustling during the day, settles into a state of suspended animation at night, only the tops of tall trees in Plaza San Martin showing signs of a breeze. In the distance, unseen and almost unheard, the sound of a taxi as it turns into Santa Fe, and nearer, the beat of wings from a startled dove as it settles in a Jacaranda tree below the terrace.

‘Moneypenny is certainly a strange fish’, I think to myself. She played M like a professional. With each question and at every turn of the conversation she seemed ahead of the game. There was clearly more to Moneypenny than first appeared. Maria Cristina must have logged her consummate performance. Was it too good to be true? With this plan, M was about to allow Moneypenny, a relative stranger, inside access to our plans and concerns regarding Dr Richard Alvarez and his dealings. This could amount to a very dangerous strategy.

Returning from the terrace to the study, I pull out my old Olympia typewriter and wind in a sheet of plain paper -

‘M, I have worries about Moneypenny. She seems to know precisely what we want before we do - it is as if she has been briefed - but not by me. I think we need to meet, and maybe do a few more checks (unless you have another plan)’.

Folding the sheet into a brown envelope, I leave it in the rack for Raul and, pouring myself another malt, retire to bed for the few hours that remain before morning.

It has been light for a couple of hours when I wake to the sound of Rosa the maid clattering  in the kitchen.

“It’s alright, Rosa, I am awake. How about coffee?”, I say, trying to smile and look vaguely refreshed. Raul has already collected the envelope and left a stack of morning papers on the table, just flown in from London. Down below, I hear the clack of lattice doors and the bump of a wheelchair as it negotiates its way out of the lift.

As I finish reading the last Times obituary, the telephone rings.
“Bond, are you up yet”, comes the voice. “You up for lunch? I’m starving. That shared milanesa last night was not enough to feed a mouse”.

“Moneypenny; good of you to ask how I am doing”, I reply facetiously. “So, what about Convento San Ramon Nonato in Calle Reconquista?”, I suggest, feeling the need for proper food. “You know where it is, I take it”, I inquire. “Isn’t it behind the Bank of Argentina or somewhere?”, she replies with a vagueness that is in stark contrast to last night. “Yes, I think I know it. Meet midday on the steps? Oh, and how are you today, Bond?”, she adds, “Have you recovered from the effects of all that Malbec?”

As I replace the receiver I hear the sound of a click on the line. It is faint, but clear. ‘We were not alone in that conversation’, I think to myself, and my mind returns to the turmoil of the previous night.


“You did well tonight, just like I expected you to”, Sabrina utters while pouring me a cup of jasmine tea. “All I did was follow your advice”, I retort. “I just don’t want you to get sucked in the way I did, you need to watch out for yourself; make sure you have a safety net; because once they no longer need you, you’ll be left with nothing but a pair of fancy shoes and a lifetime of secrets”, she adds. “I’m still not really sure what all of this is, but are we doing the right thing?”, I attempt to ask, hoping she’ll give me something more concrete to go on.

“There is no right and wrong, no good or bad really, peace and safety are assured by one thing and one thing only, balance, no one can have absolute power, it would ruin us all, even if intentions are good, are they rarely are, it wouldn’t work. But that’s enough for now, have your tea and go sleep in the guest room”, she replies, not giving the information I was hoping for, but I know tonight, a cup of hot tea is the only favour she’ll grant me.

Sleep wasn’t on the agenda tonight it would seem, the events of the evening just kept playing over and over in my head, like a broken record; Richard…. Infiltrate….secrets... Alvaro….working together… working for what.. Balance of power...? For whom?  Once ‘M’ left, silence dominated our a table, not one superfluous word was spoken; Bond just smiled and twirled me about the very uncomfortable dance floor and Sabrina sat there in a deep ponder, sipping her Malbec.

If I were reading a novel, I wouldn’t be able to put it down at this stage, but now when everything seems to be materialising and playing out exactly according to plan; all I seem to want to do is run away…. My usual reaction.

I wonder what Alvaro must have thought when he woke up to find me missing, I shouldn’t have listened to Bond and I should have gone back like I had intended, what did it matter that Lucia went there?  Why did she matter in any of this anyway?

I look over to the dresser and notice the outside light hitting the side of my silver Comme il Faut’s, casting a beam of light onto my bed; my shoes are calling me and their call is much stronger than the call of sleep.
I get up, put on some jeans, grab my shoes and discreetly make my way out of the apartment, if hurry I can make it for the first batch of media lunas at La Viruta.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

In which Moneypenny meets and impresses ‘M’

Mr Bond

Looking back on it, I have rarely seen Moneypenny look more uncomfortable than when ‘M’ addressed her in the bar at Los Laureles. It was as if Moneypenny realised that her insatiable curiosity in entering the cemetery had sealed her fate.

She smiled limply and cast her eyes down in a coy way. Was this the real Moneypenny, or an act put on for Maria Cristina’s benefit? But a few nights ago Moneypenny had been quick to seize the initiative and suggest what could only be described as an outrageous plan to seduce Alvero and access Dr Richard Alvarez.

“Well, you are now with us, like it or not - and I have a little job for you”, ‘M’ continued.

Raul leaned back in his chair as a 1931 vinyl recording of ‘Amargamente’ from Orquesta Tipica Brunswick played and lights from a passing car flickered across the wall. A waiter slid a fresh bottle of high altitude Malbec onto the table, and I picked up the last piece of queso milanesa. Sabrina, seeking to rescue Moneypenny ventured, “It seems that she has already made a good start”.

“So, tell me about it”, said ‘M’ as she looked intently into Moneypenny’s eyes. “What have you been up to, chica?”

It was over an hour later that Maria Cristina picked up her scarf from her lap, pushed her blonde hair beneath her cloche hat and opened her handbag to retrieve her gloves. On doing so, a yellow light spun across the wall and a motorcycle turned outside the bar in Av Gral Iriate. A waiter, not hitherto noticed, stepped forward and led M the way she had entered, behind the counter, disappearing as quickly and unseen as she had arrived.

Raul whistled softly, ‘phew, Moneypenny, I would never have guessed you had it in you. How on earth did you work out that plan?”, added Sabrina, “you make Mr Bond look like an amateur!”

Never the master of the understatement, Sabrina was spot on for once - although in fairness neither Moneypenny nor I had shared with ‘M’ details of her reckless plan to return to Alvero’s apartment.

“I think another bottle of Sottano Judas Malbec 2012 is warranted”, I ventured, “no point in having the Ministry’s gold card and not making full use of it”, I added. Raul looked across disconsolate - driving the Bentley had its disadvantages. “So, let’s get a couple of bottles then Raul can enjoy his at his leisure”, I continued with a wry smile and a nod.

As we prepared to leave Moneypenny tipped her head to one side and glanced over to the small dance floor. “Oh I adore Di Sarli”, she slurred, “just one last dance”. After her tour de force earlier I could not deny her this trophy, so propping her against my arm, I led her to onto the pista. “I know the words, Bond, ‘Esta Noche Luna’, I know the words”, she repeated, and resting her head against my chest we danced as she sung,

“Acércate a mí y oirás mi corazón
Contento latir como un brujo reloj,
La noche es azul, convida a soñar
El cielo ha encendido su faro mejor.
Si un beso te doy, pecado no ha de ser
Culpable es la noche que incita a querer,
Me tienta el amor, acércate ya
El credo de un sueño, nos redimirá”.

Moments later, we stepped out into the cool night air. On leaving, the waiters slid the windows down along the front of the bar and shot the bolt on the doors. The sound of Di Sarli faded, to be replaced by Hugo Diaz’s  ‘Mi Noche Triste’- receding from beneath the railway arches where I could just discern the glint of moonlight on the wheels of a chair.


“I didn’t want you to end up here, it’s not too late to say no…’s not too late yet”, Sabrina whispers in my ear.  I don’t have an answer for her, few are the times when I am at a loss for words and it seems this was one of them. At first, I thought it was fun running around the city following Bond; mysterious cemetery meetings, secret milonga parties, even sleeping with Alvaro didn’t bother me too much, but now… I have to prove myself, prove my worth towards something I’m not even sure I want to be a part of.

Suddenly, I feel Sabrina and Bond tense up as the bar doors open and a blonde woman. dressed in black, walks in.  It’s the woman from the cemetery, it’s the illusive ‘M’.

“Good evening, James, Sabrina, Raul”, she says as she removes her hat and lets her golden hair cascade over the shoulders.  “Now let’s see what the two of you have been up to”, she says with a smirk, addressing Bond and Sabrina casually avoiding me.  She then turns her gaze towards me and adds: “You both left out how incredibly….what’s the word, not beautiful, beautiful is too plain, too generic, no not beautiful -  but seductive she is. Although, I should hardly be surprised, I have known you for what over…..well let’s just say some years now haven’t I James?”. I assumed this was also eluding to how Sabrina got caught up with them.

“Indeed M, good of you to conceal the exact number of years”, Bond retorts with a smile.  “Don’t flatter yourself Bond, I did it more for me, and because I simply can’t count that high!”, she responds with a burst of laughter.

“Now enough of this nonsense; Sabrina I trust that everything is in order”, she questions, giving Sabrina no chance to repond. “And now Moneypenny, James tells me you’re quite something, says you figured out the riddle we planted for you without too much difficulty, Bond himself would have taken years to solve it”, she says looking directly at me with her piercing eyes.  “How did you do it?”

“Well, it was quite elementary”, I started.  “James, I mean Bond, and Sabrina for that matter, always seem to speak in riddles, so I’ve had a fair amount of practice when it comes to deciphering things. I know Bond is fascinated by Argentine history so I knew it had to be a historical reference.  And the rest just followed: brothers in arms, high the sky… had to be Peru or Lima up in the Andes; freed from the same shackles, had to be the year of independence, and then I realized it was an address”, I respond, trying to conceal my nerves.

“Impressive, and what did you think of the party my dear?” she asks, again looking directly into my eyes.

“I’m not sure what to think, the standard of tango wasn’t very good and the floor was too slippery -  but the champagne and the orchestra were excellent. Other than that I have no opinion”, I retort.

“I like her”, she says to Bond, “she doesn’t venture to talk about what she doesn’t know. It’s a good quality. However, don’t take me for a fool, I know you have more to say than a comment on the type of polish Richard uses on his floor.  I also know you took matters into your own little hands with Alvaro”, she adds with an inkling of criticism. “ So tell me, what have you been up to, chica? What was your plan that you so boldly took on by yourself?”

I wasn’t sure what to answer her. I hadn’t really thought things through properly, I had just acted, I couldn’t tell her that though.  “Well, I thought that the most direct way to Richard, assuming Richard is our target, is through his lover. Margaretta is clearly useless in this area, so the most obvious choice is Jay, which gives me at least one degree of separation from Richard should anything happen. But I thought Jay wouldn’t be too easily swayed by me, he’s a profiteer and I had nothing to offer him. It could make him doubt my motives for getting close to him. I needed something else to spark his interest. And then it came to be, who would do almost anything for a little fame and glory? Alvaro is perfect, he’s beautiful and fairly stupid. Not to mention that the man is obsessed with himself; a little flattery of his ego goes a very long way.  Thus, I wanted to ‘seduce’ him and convince him that he and I had a lot to gain from a connection with Richard. I made up some cockamamie story about my dreams of being a tango dancer and how he and I could benefit from Richard’s connections around the world. How, by infiltrating his inner circle, by infiltrating Jay, we could have it all. Alvaro is too stupid and too preoccupied with moisturizing his chest to put two and two together”, I respond almost surprised at how easily the words flooded from my lips.

‘M’ smiles, pulls her hat down and slips her gloves onto her slim hands. “That’ll do for now”, she replies, “don’t do anything else until you’re told to”.  “James, Sabrina I trust the two of you can work together on this”. Just as she got up, a waiter arrived, picked up the glass from which she had been sipping her Malbec and led her away. Not a trace of her was left behind, even her napkin had disappeared.

The four of us just stood there in silence as James opened another bottle of Malbec.  “Don’t say anything, put your shoes on and go dance”, Sabrina instructs me.

As soon as I manage to hook my shoe strap on, struggling with it as usual, Bond cabeceo’s me and swooshes me away to the dance floor.  We dance to one of my all time Pugliese favorites as moonlight beams through the windows of Bar Las Laureles.

Monday, 23 April 2018

In which Bond and Moneypenny keep their appointment

Mr Bond

As I exit the double doors of Palacio Haedo, I spot Raul waiting in the Bentley by the crossing on Av Santa Fe. In contrast to our last sortie to Peru 1826, I have dressed down, choosing a simple black shirt, casual chinos and a dab of cologne. Raul, as ever, sports his old gardening shirt and sun-beaten straw hat. Having arrived in good time for once, in the off-side seat sits Moneypenny, her cool slim legs crossed against the leather upholstery as she leans forward to kiss my cheek.

“Mr Bond, do we go to collect Senora Sabrina?”, Raul enquires. “No, she doesn’t trust your driving”, I retort with a grin that he spots in the rear view mirror. ”Bueno, let’s go”, he adds, feigning indifference. It is clear that Sabrina’s historic allure still retains some of its magic.

We head east in Marcelo Torcuado Alvear to 9 de Julio, then due south towards Av San Juan, beneath 25 de Mayo and into Barracas. I glance at Moneypenny. Tonight she is quiet and pensive. Gone - the incessant chatter and questions. In one way it is a relief to feel the summer evening silence; in another I am missing her youthful exuberance.  Leaving the flyover at Herreras, Raul navigates the Bentley down Alvarado, left into Salom and two blocks later to Av Gral Iriate. Just beyond the railway arches we arrive at our destination, Bar Los Laureles.

As I nudge the door of the Bentley I hear the sound of Hugo Diaz on the evening air, and a small wheelchair containing a diminutive frame comes into view along Concalves Diaz. Raul nods in its direction, and slips a manila envelope under a wiper blade.

It is about to turn eight o’clock as we enter Laureles. Following Raul, I glance around the bar in search of Sabrina. As expected, she is already at our table by the window, her jet black hair catching the fading light. Lines to her face reveal a slight scowl.

“Don’t get up”, I quip, smiling down at her, which she ignores as she offers a cheek to both Moneypenny and Raul. “What kept you?”, she asks with sarcasm, remembering her last dash in the Bentley with Raul at the wheel.

Bar Los Laureles still bears its 1893 credentials, and some of its paintwork. It has not changed in 125 years. The waiters bequeath their jobs from father to son, so even their appearance remains reminiscent of years gone by. Tonight they clatter from table to table, polishing glasses and checking salt cellars, with the occasional instruction called from the bar.

At one such shout a young waiter rushes to the back of the restaurant to pull open a door leading from the kitchen. And ‘M’ appears in the room from behind the bar.

Wearing a light cape and cloche, there is no doubting Maria Cristina’s significance and status, yet somehow she seems at home here, just as she does everywhere. She removes her hat, shakes her blonde hair to her shoulders and folds a silk scarf in her gloved hands. At the same moment a departing motorcycle and side-car bearing government insignia growls past the front of the building, its single headlamp penetrating the gathering gloom.

“Good evening everyone”, she announces, glancing in turn at Sabrina, Raul and me. “Bond, are you recovered from your trip to the cemetery?”, she adds with a superior smile. At which she turns to Moneypenny and says, “how good to meet you at last, Miss Moneypenny; it has been a while since Recoleta”.


‘It’s out of the question old girl”, he said to me, “You can’t go back. Lucia arrived as you left. It seems she has a key to Alvero’s apartment. Fortunately, she didn’t see you leave - her taxi was apparently blocked by a wheelchair”, he added with a smile.

Those were his instructions, which in one blow destroyed my original plan of returning to Alvaro’s with a handful of La Viruta’s famous medialunas and café con leche to convince him that we had just spent the night together - that we were working on the same side to ‘seduce’ Jay, each for their own purpose. Perhaps I could tell him that I ran off when I heard Lucia making her way into his apartment? I wonder how gullible he is…..I have the feeling that a little flattery and promise of money and sex will go a very long way with Alvero.  I could also have disobeyed Bond, but as they say, ‘those that don’t follow instructions are often the most intolerant of disobedience’.

Anyhow, tonight is about meeting the mysterious ‘M’ for the first time. I have no idea how I should act. With Bond I know a little flirtation works allowing me to get away with almost anything, but this was going to be different, The silent card is probably the best one to play - speak only when spoken to, and see how things develop.

“Buenas tardes Miss Moneypenny”, says Raul as he holds open the rear door of the Bentley and I climb aboard.  He calls me ‘Miss’ because he knows I hate being called ‘señora’. I’ve demanded that he call me by my first name, but he won’t hear of it.

“Buenas tardes Raul, es la primera vez en mi vida que alguien viene a buscarme con una Bentley, que suerte tengo!” I reply, and he smiles, appreciating my efforts to master Castillano.

We drive through the city towards Recoleta. Why would Bond have Raul pick me up first and then return for him, since Barracas is in my neck of the woods? Did he think I may be late, or worse, didn’t he trust me to come?

Bond gets into the car and gives me his usual up and down look; ‘Dress casually’, he had instructed, so I followed his example by sporting black shorts and a black sleeveless shirt. We look as if we’re going to a funeral or impersonating Yoko and John during their black phase.

Bond is silent, and I have no inclination for chit chat, so it suits me perfectly. I stare out the window as Raul swirls the Bentley through the avenidas and calles of Buenos Aires towards Barracas.  These streets hold so many memories. I feel I’m watching the end of a Woody Allen film - scenes empty of people to a haunting violin that makes you question if it had all been a dream. Who I was when I came here first? The things which have happened since? I still can’t believe it at times…

I love Barracas. The best way to describe the barrio is that it’s ‘haunting’, ‘bewitching’ -  grand old houses in large avenues that reveal a certain sadness about the city and it’s dwellers, a sadness with which I identify.

“We’re here, old girl,” Bond says, pulling me from my daydream.  “Bar Los Laureles, you’re going to love it!”

It is as if we’ve stepped into the time capsule, or that the clock has been wound back 130 years. The walls are filled with pictures of famous historic clientele. Between the pictures, time has chipped away the paint. The checkered floors on which dancers sway to Gardel are cracked, yet it doesn’t seem to bother them.  Waiters whisk from the cluttered bar to impatient customers carrying everything from bottles of wine to obscenely large pieces of meat.

Sabrina is seated in the far corner of the room, looking incredible as always. As we enter she looks up, ignores Bond, and beckons me. I feel vulnerable. For some unknown reason her presence here comforts me.

We kiss, take our seats and await the arrival of ‘M’.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

In which Bond meets Moneypenny at La Viruta and prepares her to meet ‘M’

Mr Bond

It is Friday morning, after midnight. Checking my fountain pen, I pull on my jacket but decide against the black polished shoes, favouring a pair in suede. La Viruta Milonga is far from formal and I want to do my best to blend in.

There are some things that you should know about La Viruta. Situated in the Asociación Cultural Armenia in Palermo, La Viruta is a tango club with a difference. Whilst tango tourists arrive before midnight, the true milongueros - the professional dancers, teachers and organisers do not appear before two or three o’clock and stay until six in the morning after the tourists have gone, for a breakfast of coffee and medialunas.

My taxi drops me in Armenia and, being early, I saunter diagonally up the wide Asociacón stairs, turning to descend to the salon. From above, the ceiling appears low, giving the place a ‘club-like’ feel. Horacio Godoy’s bald head glints as he purports to conduct a small tango orchestra to the amusement of his tanguero followers. I glance to the far corners of the room in search of Moneypenny. As expected, she is not here yet. When a departing couple leave their table near the piano the waitress nods and I take my place to await Moneypenny’s arrival.

It is nearly 5 am when a breathless Moneypenny stumbles down the stairs to the salon. It is hard to know whether she is fearful, excited or both. She spots me and trots quickly towards my table. “Moneypenny, old girl, what kept you?”, I say jovially. She looks strained and exhausted. “Come, let’s dance and you can tell me all about it”, I continue, glancing down at her little red Katrinski flats.

Out on the crowded floor Moneypenny recounts her encounter with Alvero, and that she has made a discovery. As we dance she slips her hand under her shirt to withdraw a slim diary. “Bond, I found this in his pocket and from what I could see in the taxi coming here, it may hold the key to Jay”. “I am sure there will be more there if only I can get back. Will you come with me?”

“It’s out of the question, old girl”, I reply, adding, “apparently, Lucia arrived just as you left”. “We don’t know why, but it seems she has a key to Alvero’s apartment. Fortunately, she did not see you leave, thanks to the door of her taxi being blocked by a wheelchair”.

I take the diary from her fingers and slip it into my jacket pocket. El pibe de La Paternal - Fresedo’s ‘Buscandote’ swirls us into a close embrace.

“I have had a phone call from my handler ‘M’ here in Buenos Aires”, I breathe. “And she requires to meet you. It seems that from here on she will be pulling the strings for both of us”.

Returning to our table, I take the diary and pen from my pocket, and rip out a blank page on which I scribble an address. “This, old girl, is where we are to meet. Eight o’clock on Thursday night. For heaven’s sake, don’t be late”.

Were it not for my ‘grace-and-favour’ apartment on the top floor of Palacio Haedo, I would live in Barracas; an area that lies to the south west of San Telmo with the river Matanza at its feet, and La Boca to the east. Considered by many to be a ‘risky area’, for me it combines aging splendour with the historic home of true Portenos.

Sabrina was strangely quiet when I phoned to pass on Maria Cristina’s directions for a meeting. Her matter-of-fact response had me questioning the whole plan, and in particular, which of us was really handling Moneypenny. These days, Sabrina’s bitterness often conceals her true feelings, and drawns a curtain of mistrust. “Fine”, she replied, “I will meet you there for I don’t want to suffer Raul’s driving after last time”, she added abruptly, referring to her rescue from Belgrano two years earlier.

Bar Los Laureles is located in Av Gral Iriate, deep in Barracas. It is one of the oldest bars in Buenos Aires, dating back to 1893, and is steeped in the traditions of politics and tango. It was here in 1940 that the famous tango singer Angel Vargas gathered and seduced his first followers. Well chosen by M, it is so distant from the Recoleta’s Embassy community as to be a safe, discreet and private meeting place.

“We could get there by taxi, Mr Bond, but it is doubtful that we will find a cab to bring us back”, said Raul, knowing of Barracas’ night time reputation. “I will get the Bentley out on Thursday”, he continued, drumming his garden-gloved fingers on the side his watering can. “We can bribe one of those cartonero kids to watch it for us”, he added with a grin.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

In which Moneypenny begins to execute her plan


The taxi swings into Caballito, one of the few places in Buenos Aires that remains relatively tourist free, where the everyday Porteño can still afford to live. It is far cry from Bond’s fashionable Recoleta.

“Top floor, hermosa”, he breathes into my ear”, “let’s take some wine on my terrace”. The elevator doors slide open. Inside is cramped, enabling him to slide his arms around my waist. The elevator pings at each floor, increasing my anxiety as we ascend into the darkness.  

I’m so nervous. I feel a smudge of his hair gel on my face. I struggle not to touch it. I hadn’t expected it would happen like this. I hadn’t thought this through. I had not anticipated how I would feel.  He is wearing a divine cologne and looks elegant. There would have been a time when this was exactly what I would have wanted, and where I would have wanted to be. But now the only thing on my mind is to accomplish my task, and to dash to the safety of Bond.

“Estamos hermosa!”, he invites as he unlocks the door to his apartment. It’s larger and more sophisticated than I had expected. I guess tango, and it’s extra-curricular activities can pay off after all. After the dingy elevator I notice how fashionable his room is, with black leather sofa and large television. Yet it is so obviously a shrine to him. On each wall is a picture of Alvero dancing tango, taken in a way that his partners are barely discernible, just ornaments of tango like his shoes and fancy vintage suit.

“Your apartment is quite interesting”, I manage to say as I stare around the room.  “Si, it’s my palace. Come upstairs”.

From behind me his hand guides me up the staircase, descending to my lower back as he directs me towards huge lounge chairs on the terrace.  We don’t speak. I smile a lame smile. He pours two glasses of chilled white wine - the perfect catalyst to a hot and humid summer night. 

Whilst he fetches another bottle of Sauvignon blanc, I top up his glass. On his return, we toast to a life of tango and dreams.

Within moments he takes my glass from my hand, places it on the table and reaches out towards my bare legs.  He leans in to kiss me. It feels rehearsed. I realise I’m not the first extra for the role of ‘Alvaro’s lover’.

“Take me to bed”, I whisper to him. “Si, vamos hermosa”, he breathes in response. 

Leading me towards his bedroom he flicks his cigarette lighter against the candles positioned strategically around his bed. Here are more self portraits ornating the bedroom - Alvaro in Paris, Alvaro in Rome, Alvaro in Vegas…..every picture, the same smile, the same piercing gaze. 

Silk sheets are cool against my back. He unbuttons his shirt to expose a hairless, muscular chest. He kisses the back of my neck and up towards my ears. With goosebumps I feel a tinge of regret about slipping Sabrina’s sleep inducing drug into his glass minutes earlier. It will take effect any moment now. But what if I could enjoy him a little longer? 

“You are so beautiful you make my head spin,” he slurs, then passes out, his arm flopping over the side of the bed.  I roll him over to remove his clothes.

Extinguishing the candles I leave the apartment by the stairs.  He’ll be sleeping like a baby by the time I get back. 

From the taxi, I run up the stairs of Club Armenia, throwing peso notes towards the cashier but not waiting for a ticket. I scan the salon for Bond and spy him tucked away in the far left corner from which the media lunas will be served within the hour.

“Good evening, or more like good morning old girl”, he quips as he glances at me.

“Bond, I have just come from Alvero’s and I know just how we’re going to do this”, I gasp.

“Very well old girl, tell me everything. But before you, do how about us taking those red Katrinsky’s for a tanda of Fresedo?”.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

In which Moneypenny goes out on a limb at De Querusa Milonga

Mr Bond

Taking tea at Alvear I had tested the waters with Moneypenny, and she had responded like a professional. 

“I have an idea that I’m sure will work” was not the answer I had expected from her. It seemed that she understood more than I imagined. At this point of a conversation you usually get the flood of questions - ‘what, why, who, when’. But no; simply a ‘yes’ to the proposition, and that sent my mind into overdrive. Was it instinct, or did she know more than she let on?

Moneypenny returned from the powder room sporting her Katrinski flats, having swapped them for her tango shoes that were safely packed away in her bag together with the flower from her hair, and jumped into the taxi I had called for her.

I needed time to think, so resolved to stroll along Av Alvear, past Palacio Duhau and the Jockey Club, across Av 9 de Julio into Av Arroyo and Esmeralda towards San Martin. Reaching Arenales I caught a fragment of Diaz’ ‘Guitarra Mia’ on the evening air, but could not locate the origins of the vals.

No sooner had I turned the key in the lock to my apartment than the phone rang. ”Bond, can you speak?”. “Go ahead, I am alone”, I replied, realising that ‘M’ had clearly been well informed on my progress. “She will do it”, I replied. 

“Assuming she is successful, tell her to meet me at Los Laureles - next Thursday before 2000 hrs, when it is still quiet. Bring Raul, and let Sabrina know”, she added; and as usual before I could reply the phone went dead.

All that was needed was to make sure that Moneypenny got through the next 48 hours safely.

“Moneypenny - meet me Friday 2am at La Viruta. Bond”. 

Replacing the gold Parker fountain pen in my inside jacket pocket, I handed the note to Raul. “Make sure she gets this”, I added. Within moments Raul had disappeared down the main staircase, and within seconds, I heard the squeak of tyres on marble, and a small wheelchair exited the Palacio doors into Santa Fé and off in the direction of Florida.


‘I have an idea, and I’m sure it will work’, was where we had left it. 

Indeed, I was sure it would work, for it depended on the ‘surest’ of truths; flattery, sex  and human greed; which can make almost anyone do almost anything; and in this case, most of the work was already done all I had to do was plant a seed and watch the fertile soil do the rest.  Tonight I’ll set the wheels in motion before meeting Bond at La Viruta as per his instructions. 

“Hermosa, mia, que lindo verte!  I have missed you!”, he gushes as I walk into De Querusa. “Hola Alvaro, un gusto verte tambien, it’s been since when?  Oh right, since La Nacional that I’ve had the pleasure of dancing with you”, I retort.  “Si” he replies blushingly, “Sit with me tonight and promise me the first tanda”, he adds. “The first tanda is yours, but I shall sit at the front of the stage with the tangeras. You can’t expect me to devote my entire night to you, can you?”  

“I dream of the day you will devote your entire night to me, hermosa,” he responds, with his devilish smile.  I now understand why he’s left a trail of broken hearts over the years, and not exclusively those of women.

It’s early. As I take a seat beneath the stage, the class finishes with a ripple of applause. Starting at around 9 pm and ending around midnight, De Querusa is where the ‘greats’ come to warm up before heading for the later milongas at Canning or La Viruta.  There is no live orchestra, no performance, and no frills apart of the cheesy Spanish hacienda décor. I love dancing here, but tonight wasn’t just about dancing. Tonight I had a mission.  

I’m not sure why I took on James’ proposal so easily. I don’t even know what he wants from me exactly; if it’s dangerous; or even legal?  I guess I’m also just looking for a new challenge, something to take me away from daily routine.

As I struggle with my shoe strap I feel a hand on my shoulder. “Bailamos!” he says. “Si bailamos”, I respond.

Alvaro and I dance five consecutive tandas scrutinised by De Querusa tangueros; ‘Another flavour to add to his repertoire’, is what they are thinking as is plainly written in their faces; not that they have any scruples about hiding their thoughts.  I am amused, how wrong they are.

It’s a quarter to midnight and people have already started drifting off to distant milongas.  “My feet are tired,” I say looking at Alvaro, “can we stop off at your place before heading to La Viruta? You can give me that foot massage you promised.”

“Si of course! Vamos

Friday, 23 March 2018

Hotel Alvear Palace and the plot thickens

Mr Bond

I flash a smile towards Nancy the waitress, and without a word she arrives with a second champagne glass for Moneypenny, who is now settled alongside me fiddling with her shoe strap. The convention - that men and women sit separately has long since been abandoned at Canning, but the milongueros know that I usually sit alone, so this presents a field day for wagging tongues. Fortunately, my grasp of Castillano is not sufficient to understand their remarks.

“Bond, you really must tell me what is going on. First, the cemetery, then the mansion in Peru? And who are these people - Richard, Jay and the others?”

“Whoa”, I say, “I will tell you what you need to know, but here is not the place”. “If you look behind, you will see that even the walls have ears”, I add glancing at the rows of tangueros in front of Canning’s huge wall mural.

“But I can say this, old girl”, you’re quite something. You showed your metal in following me to Recoleta, and followed it up by getting the envelope. How long did it take you to solve the riddle?”

Moneypenny smiles. “Well, old boy, I think that that must wait for a proper debrief, don’t you?”, she adds mischievously. “But Bond, are you still working for HMG, and is this something to do with that? I am right, aren’t I”? “You needed me at Peru, for some reason. You must tell me for it seems that I am being pulled into something way over my head”. “And this time you can tell me somewhere a little more salubrious than the Cafe Paulin cupboard”.

“ Alvear Palace Hotel for tea tomorrow”, I reply “and I promise I will tell you what you need to know”. With that, and a tanda of Edgardo Donato, we return to dance.

The penalty of allowing Moneypenny to pay for lunch at Cafe Paulin was the bonus of her company for afternoon tea at the Alvear. But it was clear that tea and cakes were the least important topics on her agenda. Our chat at Canning had left much unsaid, and the relative privacy of L’ Orangery at Hotel Alvear was the perfect place to say it.

Some say that the Alvear Palace is the best hotel in Buenos Aires. It is certainly one of the poshest. Mounting the steps, and slipping Jorge, my regular doorman, a crisp 500 peso note, I pass the showcases of Arita jewellery and Cartier watches in the entrance foyer, and make my way through to the lounge where we had arranged to meet. 

Plush, but relaxing, this is not a casual stopping point, but a destination in itself; for it is from here that one may see the rich and the infamous as they arrive and leave. Jorge has excelled himself, for it is within moments that a tiny waiter arrives with a tray bearing a single, simple Martini - cool and shaken just as I like it. 

Afternoon tea at the Alvear is an institution to be taken seriously. Moneypenny, having listened to my instructions, arrives promptly and is dressed for the occasion. Her tight black dress shows her figure as she walks towards me, and I notice that she wears new Katrinski tango shoes and a flower in her hair.

“Hola, Mr Bond”, now this is more like it”, she blurts, clearly recalling her first impressions of the ‘cupboard’ Cafe Paulin and pleased that the experience is rectified by Alvear splendour. “Right, which way for tea?”, she adds, looking around herself approvingly.

“Straight ahead if you will, old girl”, I rejoin, noticing a flash of disapproval on her face. Nevertheless, she dutifully links arms to walk along the deep carpet to L’Orangerie. Led by the waiter carrying the Martini, we pass the salon pianist in full flow, neglect the booking-in desk, and go straight to our private table. It seems, working with Jorge over the years - and the generous tip, is paying dividends.

A bonus of L’Orangerie is the huge tables that form an acre of space sufficient for ten diners, making it impossible to be overheard. But our waiter takes us to a small table just laid for two, tucked privately in the corner of the salon.

I pull out a chair for Moneypenny, and she feigns delight. “Oh, Mr Bond, how kind”, she says unconvincingly as she lowers herself with unusual elegance. I wonder to myself whether she has ever taken tea Buenos Aires style before?

“First things first, Moneypenny”, I announce, “a glass of proper champagne - not the old Canning plonk?”. “Yes please, what fun”, she replies excitedly, but with a hint of impatience. “And which tea would the old chica prefer”, I continue undeterred. For the second time her eyes flash with annoyance as she checks the list of teas, their descriptions listed page after page. “What’s this Genmaicha tea like?”, “or would you choose the rare Rose Petal for me?”, she says tersely.

“For me, it's simple old Earl Grey”, I say, and the waiter scurries off to find the sommelier with our choice of champagne.

Tea, when it arrives, is a miniature feast. Fortunately Moneypenny has taken my advice and not eaten since her breakfast of grapefruit. At first sight, the tiny trimmed sandwiches appear insufficient even for our diminutive waiter’s frame, let alone a grown man and his hungry companion. But appearances are deceptive, and it is not long before we turn to the mini pâtisserie, fresh fruit tarts, warm scones and other delicacies prepared by the hotel’s Chef Pâtissier.

As we share the specialty cakes that are always served right at the end of the meal, and the salon pianist embellishes “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’, Moneypenny leans back to search for her handbag from beneath the drop of the white linen tablecloth, returning clutching an envelope, which I immediately recognise.

“Now, Mr Bond, it’s time for reckoning. Guess what I have here?”, she says, and places the green envelope onto the table, carefully withdrawing its contents….

“I think we have some talking to do, Mr Bond; don’t you?”


Bond escorts me to his table under the gaze of Canning’s regulars, who know he always sits alone. I can only imagine the stories that will run rampant in the tango community tomorrow. Bond and I should give them something to really talk about….

The pista is crowded, ‘Orchestra Juan d’Arienzo’ is playing live tonight and that has brought more than just the usual posh tangeros, with an invasion of tourists clicking their cameras. I have little desire to dance like a sardine tonight and I have more pressing matters on my mind.

“Bond, you really must tell me what is going on”, I start. “First, the cemetery, then the mansion in Peru? And who are these people - Richard, Jay and the others?” 

Bond smiles at me and tells me that this is not the time or place to discuss such matters.  “ Alvear Palace tomorrow for tea and I’ll try to satisfy your curiosity”, he says as he pours me a glass of Veuve Clicquot. 

“Cafe Alvear, por favor”, I tell the taxi driver. Fifteen minutes later we arrive in front of Hotel Alvear Palace, one of the city’s best examples of luxury. I have wanted to come here for ages. 

I bump my head as I leave the taxi and almost lose the flower from my hair.  Clicking my new Katrinskis up the steps I have a quick browse of the cases of jewellery, before the rather attentive doorman welcomes me. I’m early and Bond hasn’t arrived, so next I head towards the powder room to fix my hair.  With large mirrors, a selection of perfumes to choose from and even more hair products, the washrooms are a sight in of themselves. One might even come here just for them.  I fix my hair and take one last look at the black dress I borrowed from Sabrina - an Armani that she wore last year when we went to Colon.  I hope Mr. Bond approves.  

I go up the stairs and spot him immediately, predictably with a Martini in his hand. “Hola, Mr Bond, now this is more like it, not quite the same feel as yesterday’s lunch”,  I say looking around and recalling our lunch at Paulin where Bond, as in tango, had opted for a close embrace meeting.

We walk towards our table in L’Orangerie. It’s filled with plants, almost blinding white tablecloths and sparkling silverware. It reminds me of tea at the Plaza in New York, or the Gerbaud in Budapest - the cities of my previous life. 

We order our tea. Bond orders champagne, of course, for it would be inconceivable that any of our meetings would be alcohol free, even afternoon tea.  Once we’re settled with tea, drinks and cakes, I pull out the envelope from my purse dramatically and place it in front of Bond.

I look into his eyes. “I think we have some talking to do, Mr Bond, don’t you? How did you know I was at the cemetery? Who were all those people at the mansion? How come Sabrina was there? Am I being used for something I might not want to be a part of? Or is this just some of tango initiation ritual?”

“Slow down old girl, you almost made me choke on my cucumber sandwich!  I will tell you everything, just be patient”, he responds.  “Everything?”, I ask with a hint of sarcasm knowing full well he’ll tell just enough to tease my taste buds, and claim that it is all I need to know.

“Let’s just say I’ll tell you all you need to know”, he begins, when I interrupt him. “I knew it, but go ahead anyway”, knowing it’s hopeless to get more out of him.

“Good girl! So it goes like this. Of course I knew you were in the cemetery. First, with your adorable short, blond hair you stick out like a sore thumb, not to mention that little mini-skirt number you wore yesterday. Anyone would spot your creamy white legs from miles away. Second, I knew you would follow me when I left Paulin; I purposely left mysteriously knowing it would pique your interest. You took the bait just as expected.  These obvious baits might be treacherous - you’ll have to be more careful in future.”

“Wait, what future?”, I interrupt again.  “Don’t interrupt me, or you’ll get no more of this story”, he retorts. “Fine!”, I lash back.

“You were meant to follow me; you were meant to find that envelope which I so obviously left in plain sight.  The riddle was a test. I wasn’t sure you would decipher it but Sabrina on the other hand was sure you would.  That woman does have good instinct, I can’t take that away from her.  And before you get all lovey-dovey on me, yes Sabrina and I still speak occasionally, but no there is no chance us rekindling whatever it is that you think we had”.

“Oh but Bond”, I interjected, “there must still be something there!” I was beginning to sound like a teenager reading a romance novel and hopelessly waiting for the ‘and they lived happily ever after’ ending.

“Oh but Bond nothing!”, he continued, “now, about the cemetery, the woman I met there, Maria Cristina, is my contact in Buenos Aires. We worked together in the UK.  She scripts the missions, no specifics, just places to be, people to meet, and I provide her with the information she seeks”.

“That was how Sabrina and I came to meet years back at one of Dr Richard Alvarez’s parties. I recruited her that night, but got more than I bargained for.  Sabrina was a natural - charming, pleasing and smart as a fox. Within an hour, she could get information from Stalin himself if needed. We worked together for many years. Much like our respective countries, our relationship has been one of ups and downs, collaboration and deceit. Nonetheless, HMG has repaid her services handsomely, hence a seemingly endless supply of Manolo Blahniks and Armani dresses”.  

“Anyhow, last night I wanted you to meet Richard - and more importantly his partner Jay who is the way to Richard.  Who Richard may be, and why he is important matters not right now; what does matter is the information on Richard that I believe Jay will provide if given the right push. Which is where you come in, my dear”. He pauses and looks directly in my eyes.

“Me?  What can I do?” I asked, intrigued. “You’re going to get that information. Maybe not you directly, you’re not ready, so we need an information mule of some kind, someone who can be disposed of once its done,” he responds.

“I have an idea that I’m sure will work”, I say triumphantly. 

In which Moneypenny takes a break

I head towards 9 de Julio, jump into the first taxi I see and head to towards Palermo, where the night was still relatively young....