James Ihaka 's Opinion

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Day Three: Following the All Blacks in Argentina

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(Left to right) All Blacks supporters Bruce Young, Chris Rutten, Lou Vipond and Donna Rutten enjoying Buenos Aires charms. Photo / James Ihaka
(Left to right) All Blacks supporters Bruce Young, Chris Rutten, Lou Vipond and Donna Rutten enjoying Buenos Aires charms. Photo / James Ihaka

Our guide Leo says getting boozed in Buenos Aires isn't really frowned upon but also isn't really the done thing.

"We don't want to miss out on what is happening in front of us, on life itself," he tells me.

The Portenos love the nightlife - they must do when people don't arrive at restaurants for dinner until 10pm and clubbers don't hit the dancefloors unless it's after 2am.

"Sure we like to have a drink but you don't want to miss out on the life," says Leo, sagely.

I hope his wisdom isn't lost on a few of my countrymen who seem impervious to the real charms of one of the world's great cities.

These blokes are good solid Kiwi guys, I'm told, who have been shouted in part to Argentina courtesy of a rich mate.

One gets more stick from his friends because he's apparently shorter than Dai Henwood.

But forget the seductive marvels of the tanguera of La Boca or the dilapidated wonders of San Telmo, the majestic beauty of the Plaza de Mayo or the friendly locals who smile at your bumbling attempts to communicate in Spanish.

These guys are here for the rugby and little else.

One told a colleague of mine he didn't like his host city - I'm not surprised if your only impressions of it are the narrow street our hotel is on and where the shops are boarded over at night.

I hope they'll open up, otherwise it's going to be a long week.

In better form, however, are the Kiwis in our hotel bar who while raucous - they're on the second floor, I'm on the eighth and can hear them from here - are having a ball exploring the Argentinian capital.

"This has been a fantastic trip, I'm here with my friends and we are loving it," says Chris Rutter, a horse trainer from Te Horo north of Wellington.

Mr Rutter is on his first All Black supporters trip, which he won in some sort of racing contest that I couldn't quite understand. At first he thought it was a mate pulling his leg.

With him are a couple of mates from the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Bruce Young of Whakatane and a jovial Lou Vipond of Opotiki.

Lou tells me he's had a bit of luck on the roulette tables at the waterfront casino but is clearly looking forward to the rest of his stay.

"It's been brilliant mate and there are still a few days to go yet before the game actually starts."

Buenos Aires has been on a kind of holiday since our arrival on Saturday and has lulled us into wondering where all its people are.

But we have been warned that our easy commutes through the central Buenos Aires streets are normally unheard of and the city of 13 million goes back to work tomorrow.

SIDESWIPES FROM BUENOS AIRES:

Literally. Steve Marshall the TVNZ one-man gang and Australian correspondent for One News had his camera on a tripod swiped by a passing motorcyclist not long after arriving in BA. He is apparently okay but has had to hire a freelancer to help him during his stay here.

SIDESWIPES 2:

The Argentinians are giving the All Blacks the best in security. A colleague followed the All Black bus to their training session on the outskirts of the city behind a cavalcade of police riding two each on siren-flashing motorcycles at the front, rear and sides of the bus.

The police officers, wearing balaclavas and one on each bike armed with a machine gun, stopped traffic throughout the city to let the All Blacks through.

James Ihaka is in Buenos Aires following the All Blacks and their supporters thanks to the courtesy of Air New Zealand.

James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

James Ihaka has worked at the NZ Herald since 2006 having moved from the Gisborne Herald newsroom, more consistent surf and nil traffic worries. He’s a latecomer to journalism after stints travelling and teaching English as a foreign language and a foray into IT. James has worked in the Herald’s Hamilton newsroom since 2008 and he covers all breaking news in the Waikato region that encompasses virtually everything south of the Bombay Hills to Palmerston North. He took over the Maori Affairs role late last year and has whakapapa to Te Aupouri, Ngati Rangitihi, Ngati Porou and Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga.

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