After an hour, we are dancing across the room almost smoothly, and I have learned to follow Quique’s lead: With a nod of his head and the firm pressure of his hand on my waist, he invites me to stop or turn or do a complicated thing with my feet (I get tangled up here and fall into him every time). “We practice,” he assures me. “That’s all.” Practice we do, my body slowly relaxing into his, my legs finally kicking close to him instead of away.
On my way back to the hotel to meet Lorne, I mull over what I’ve learned about the tango. There is no choreography. Instead, everything is improvisation. The woman understands the man’s intentions. I can’t help but think this describes my marriage to my mountain-climbing husband. Here in Argentina, we have found a place that satisfies us both, where we can do our separate things and still be together. I open the door to our room, and my heart still does that lurch when I lay eyes on Lorne. He smiles at me, steps forward and nods. Understanding his intention, I step into his arms.
ANN HOOD is the author of 11 books. Her latest novel, The Red Thread, has just been released in paperback. Her husband’s next climb will be Mount Denali (formerly McKinley) in Alaska.
Ann Hood’s Argentina
Where to stay
I highly recommend the Cavas Wine Lodge, a 30-minute drive outside the city of Mendoza (cavaswinelodge.com; double rooms from $678 a night, including 21% tax).
In Buenos Aires, try the Costa Petit Hotel (costapetithotel.com). Part of the charm is that it has just four rooms (from $250 a night), but that means it is booked well in advance. Also worth considering: Home (homebuenosaires.com; double rooms from $130 a night), a hip boutique hotel with 1970s-era decor and a terrific spa. If your return flight to the U.S. leaves late in the day, book a Stepping on Clouds preflight treatment: footbath, hand massage and foot and calf pressure-point massage ($70 for 60 minutes).
Where to eat
You cannot have a bad meal in Buenos Aires. Some of our favorite places: Bar 6 Great for breakfast, lunch and people watching. Gran Café Tortoni Although filled with tourists, this 1858 café, which houses tango and literary mem-orabilia in an ornate, lavish building, is a must for café con leche and a steak sandwich. La Caballeriza A lively, informal steak house where you can watch meats sizzle on the grill. Order the classic bife de chorizo. Cabernet For a respite from the delicious but ubiquitous beef menu, try this charming Tuscan restaurant.
Where to watch tango These shows are tourist attractions, but some are more authentic than others. I recommend
Piazzolla Tango (piazzollatangoshow.com; $56 per person, $100 with dinner) and Rojo Tango (rojotango.com; $200 per person, with dinner). For lessons, check out Torquato Tasso (torquatotasso.com.ar) or Confiteria Ideal (confiteriaideal.com; hours and prices vary).
Other sights to see
La Recoleta Cemetery Its most famous attraction is the tomb of Eva Perón, but the grand, oversize memorials throughout are also worth gaping at. The boxer in robe and boxing shoes is my favorite.
The Botanical Gardens It’s easy to spend a couple of hours here in the shade among blooming plants and impressive statues. A great place for a picnic.
Plaza de Mayo The white scarf design painted on the plaza’s stones commemorates the madres, a group of mothers who have protested here every Thursday since 1977, demanding to know the whereabouts of their children who were kidnapped and killed during the 1970s and ’80s. A good place to buy Che coasters, Evita pins, small flags of Argentina and postcards.