Around Congreso and a bit more – Inspiration

November 11, 2015

Walking out the front door for my regular morning stroll, I look down the street and see an amazing thing…an intersection with a book store on each corner. Actually, on this corner there are five bookstores.

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Unfortunately, there are too many neighborhoods I know of, where in place of book stores there are liquor stores on each corner…

But as I stand here and marvel at the sight of bookstores :)….I go back to thinking on my purpose for the day…looking for the connection…..connecting to the humanity within a different culture. Getting away from the veil of superficiality produced by the comfort zone of cultural uniformity and wide spread ease of access to nearly everything. I want something deeper than the shallowness created by the ease of access. I want to find the depth – not to judge or critique, but I want to connect with the human story of cultural tango of a deeper Buenos Aires.

I have been listening to Tango music for some time now, and my understanding of it has improved. However, there is still something deeper that is eluding me. When something keeps eluding you, then we have to look deep into ourselves to see what it is inside of us that is holding us back. The thing that is holding us back is actually oppressing us. Meaning, sometimes we oppress ourselves…we hold ourselves back….most times, it is us who is the greatest oppressors of ourselves…so we need to identify what is holding us back, what is oppressing us, and let it go…because this is what actually enslaves us….and if we can free up our minds, hearts and souls then we come closer to capturing what exactly it is that is eluding us.

In many ways music reflects the nature of its people, but also how that nature manifests and expresses the specific and composite feelings of a time….The music, the dance, and the lyrics going hand in hand, but there is something deeper there…that is what I am looking for….what is at the base…what is the inspiration….the inspiration of IT!!

Reminds me of when I was working in West Africa – Liberia in Gbarnga (Kpelle Tribe Country)….during the rainy season, no moon, no stars, no ambient light, no electricity, the epitome of pitch black, you could barely see your hands in front of your face. But, in the distance you could hear the drums from the villages miles away – drums five (5) and six (6) feet tall. They tell a story – a story that helps you understand animism.

Or the movie, the ‘Red Violin’, each section of the movie – the sound of the violin was inspired by a human story. Or as Erzsebet talks about, the challenge of understanding hip-hop music in the United States without being able to relate to the environment. Realistically, relating to the urban environment of New York helps you feel down deep a connection with the Wu-Tang Clan or Biggie Smalls; relating to the culture of California, whether it’s Los Angeles or Northern California, helps you understand NWA and Tupac Shakur. Just like being in Appalachia helps you to relate to the people of the Song Catcher. With Tango, the Portenos are born with it…they already have it…As Erzsebet said, “the rest of us are trying to get it!”….

So, off I go, with my Tango music in my ear piece…strolling, thinking…and seeking to use my imagination in search of understanding….to connect to this human story…this is la plaza de mayo…where I spent a lot of time each day sitting and people watching….

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If you have read my blog, even though I been so many places, you know that it is always more about the people than places.  Always interesting to hear political or geo-political discussions about various countries…as if they are only defined by such.  Look, they have babies too…isn’t she just a spoon full of puddin…. 🙂 I wonder what her life is like…what path she will take…as she grows and matures…

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and these two, they had a ball for a long time.  Not to mention the two on the bench behind them.  They spent most of the time snuggling, hugging and kissing.  But, I didn’t want to get made out as a nut watching them and taking pictures…so I kept the pic with the kids.  Look at that…people ‘love’ each other in other countries as well *ok, a little sarcasm*….

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Plaza de Mayo has multiple dog parks as well…lots of people/couples walking and enjoying each other and their dogs…it is true, this city has a lot of pet dogs…being that it’s urban…even on the side walk – watch your steps…you might get a puppy surprise…

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In this park, on occasion they would have cultural festivals where there would be booths representing Argentina, Russia, Haiti, Italy, Spain….and others.  Of course, I had to stop and chat with ‘My Dudes’ from Haiti.  This fellow spoke English but he was also nice enough to tolerate my attempts to utilize my Spanish 🙂  He is from Jacmel, Haiti.  Jacmel is on the other side of the Island from Port-Au-Prince…an absolutely beautiful place…amazing restaurants and the water is amazingly beautiful…how do I know…of course – I’ve been there 🙂  Great conversation and his smoothie was one of the best I’ve ever had….not surprisingly, there are a fair amount of Haitians in Buenos Aires:

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And of course, how could it be a city park without Pigeons…of course I have my Tango music on in my ear phones…and when I noticed these Pigeons..check them out…they have their own Tango Walk…Look at that Strut…and trust me, they were stepping in tune…especially the dude with his chest stuck out, in Tango style, escorting his Chicky down the sidewalk 🙂

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Continuing my search to connect with this cultural phenomenon, we stroll by a little shop I spent plenty of time in.  This is the local Parrilla…one of the most common restaurants around Buenos Aires.  Parrilla stands for grilled meat, so it is a restaurant that specializes in grilled meats…which, of course, Argentina is world-renowned for its beef….

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I would hang out here in the evenings as well, watching futbol matches with the locals.  Also gave me a chance to work on developing my ear for Spanish…a very interesting crew to say the least…

These two fine gentlemen took excellent care of me.  They let me practice my Spanish…after awhile this young man and his Compadre would shake my hand and give me ‘dap’ like I was one of the ‘homies’ coming to hang out with them.  Wonderful people, very kind and warm…even if you aren’t an expert with the language…a smile and a warm handshake goes such a long way…

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Now, I’m gonna have to admit.  My diet is not heavy on the meat side.  But, I am a food snob in that when I travel I want to eat like the locals.  But, every now and then, I would have to go find something that my system was more tolerable of 🙂  Going from very little meat to a lot of meat…well…to be polite…that can make you bad company… 🙂

So this little Deli Mart became another frequent spot…ridiculous salads, salmon wraps…and they were very inquisitive of where I was from…and were very kind in helping me become comfortable with using my Spanish to select and becoming familiar with paying and getting change…Delicious….

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Walking down the street and continuing my search, i come across a sight that is quite common throughout the world….two women either holding hands or walking arm-in-arm.  Whenever, I see this it speaks volumes

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Now as I mentioned, I am a food snob when I travel..okay, more like all the time, but particularly when I travel abroad.  I don’t think I have ever seen a place with more Pizza shops than this place.  I mean in some places, they are almost on every block…now for several days, I refused to eat pizza.  I said, I didn’t come all this way to eat pizza.  But, as I kept studying the culture, I realized that Buenos Aires has a major cultural confluence of Spanish and Italian influences.  So I said, “well, maybe there is something to it….so let me check it out”….And let me be clear…this isn’t American Pizza…I would call this Pizza Cake…thick slices, but the cheese was very soft, veggies very fresh….and it cut like cake…nothing I’ve ever had before regarding pizza…in Buenos Aires…I would say a must try…

Busy, busy, busy streets….look at that architecture…music in my ear…let’s me imagine what it looked like in another time….

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Always looking to capture people, at the corner was this fine senora…selling her flowers.  Stood there and watched her for awhile – she got quite busy…imagined people doing the same some years ago, buying flowers for their sweetheart…building relationships…she was kind and a wonderful person to talk with…

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you ever come across people who have such a gracious spirit and are so effusive that you are humbled in their presence and walk away thinking and feeling as though you have had an experience with someone who has a much more appreciative perspective about life…mmmm…something to ponder…

I also have to admit, I love to come across an instance where Art and Social Messaging come together…I’ll let you translate 🙂

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And, eventually I strolled by the shop that Alejandro sent me to go check out – NeoTango.  The  Tango shoe shop.  Now if you are into Tango, you know that Tango shoes aren’t so easy to come across in the United States.  So I had to check them out!  Talk about great deals in comparison to the web-site and without the crazy high shipping costs.  And, these folks were so kind as well…and it didn’t seem that they were only nice because I was spending money 🙂  Yup, had to pick up a few pair of shoes…some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever purchased…and they’ve got a web site 🙂

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Now on a more political side, some have called the current Argentinian government as leaning somewhat leftest….towards the Hugo Chavez direction – think of Venezuela…I found that interesting as I have found him to be an interesting gent since I’ve read his biography.  At the same time, having worked in Panama…I’ve also seen the implications of his government on the influx of Venezuelans into Panama as refugees or migrants.  Never-the-less, it wasn’t surprising to come across this book in the store window 🙂  President Obama dressed up as the Heath Ledger’s Joker from the ‘Batman’…okay…. 🙂

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And, strolling out of Congreso,to check out some adjacent neighborhoods we come across several expressions of political thought.  This group was protesting for more substantive labor rights…interesting group – made a heck of a lot of noise…I thought it was a parade…can always appreciate the right to protest that is allowed…it was somewhat refreshing….mostly because they seemed to enjoy being with each other even more than the protest 🙂 and of course, just like you have clouds all over the world…got to have a McDonald’s (in my charlie brown voice – ‘good grief’)…

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Also came across several groups around the city celebrating the Presidential Elections.  Gentleman named Macri made it to the Presidential Run-off…from what I hear, he represents the group that is not as leftist and may be more interested in having better relations with the United States.  We shall see….they were happy all the same 🙂

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Plenty of balloons, screams of celebration and horns honking…and if you look closely enough you will see they brought along their own personal drone 🙂

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Continuing my stroll, I do come across some physical sites to capture.  Love the architecture of this building and how it sits….Just sat and looked at it for a bit to listen to it speak…and, it spoke volumes about the past, present day, and the future…can you hear it speak…

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Now this faculty building provided an interesting contrast to the the modern architecture adjacent to it..a flower that has a glowing light inside…which one speaks the most to you…and what do they both say?

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With my own music in my ear…these contrasts also speak to what I am looking for…what my longing is seeking to find…but, it was also nice to have a brief reprieve..just as I am a crazy fan of street food – one of the great delicacies and treats you find when being abroad – gotta love the street artists…this young lady, sitting and relaxing and singing a tune…was extremely impressive…would swear that she must be getting ready to sign a contract….kind of a mix between Amy Winehouse and several other people combined…a very nice addition to the social mix…

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As I continue my stroll, I happen to walk up on the Embassy District.  Quite by accident…but, if you’ve had enough life experiences then you know the irony of things is that life seems to have a sense of fate.  The first building I walk up on that let me know I was in this district was of course – “The Embassy of Indonesia”….had to chuckle at that one…. “Apa Kabar, my people…”…

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And, of course, as the day is winding down…and I’m completely worn out…I come across another site that Alejandro told me to definitely check out…called El Ateneo….Now, book stores and I have a special relationship….even if there are only a few books in English…it doesn’t matter – it is a book store…which for me, deserves a bow 🙂

This place is so amazing and beautiful…of course, does this not speak to you?  if it doesn’t, please log off of my blog and never come back…I don’t like you either 🙂

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I know of a particular city that I wish could support a book store like this; no names mentioned 🙂

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Now, look at this ceiling…talk about an amazing point of confluence for the contemporary and the historical…I spent good time here…just looking around, thumbing through books – practicing my Spanish, and absorbing the energy….gotta love it…

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Alright…it’s been one serious long day, but a couple of points on a lighter note…Have you ever seen a bike with tires such as this…just found it while i was walking by…I’ll just call this one the ‘Urban Assault Vehicle”….somebody needs to watch this person – they are a person of interest!! 🙂

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Okay, and as it is time to settle down, and grab a bite to eat and rest my ‘dogs’…you have to appreciate how culture and perceptions of such get spread around the world.  Maybe a better term is projected around the world.  It is one thing to see a picture of Rihanna, Alicia Keys, or Antonio Banderas in the commercial district in an advertising display.

But, who would of thought that I would come all the way to Buenos Aires…stroll down a street and see the advertising for:

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Ha Ha…I guess they are down for Empire here as well!!  Ah, Portenos, I ain’t mad at ya 🙂

Well, just a few pics of the trip…again, really focusing on how these sites, my readings, lessons, and immersion give me insight into what comes next!! Peace my friends…hope you enjoyed our little walk….more to come…

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