Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose…

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (from the Artist’s Way-Julia Cameron)

I am quite sure there are many that would wonder, “why go to a cemetery.”  I wondered the same thing before I moved to Savannah, Georgia.  In Savannah, there is a cemetery – if you want to call it that – called Bonaventure.  Many tourists go to see the ornate architecture of the markings and experience its history…its feeling and/or communication….  But, it also sits on a river, so over time I would go there to relax, study, or to explore my pensive nature.  The ‘Recoleta’ is a similar place – although, quite exponentially more….

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Walking into the ‘Recoleta’, I am reminded of ‘Beatriz’ – “there is Tango in There.”  Immediately, I am reminded of the experience of places I have been.

The cultural similitudes with the carvings in west Africa, the temples in South East Asia, the Canal de Panama, the works of the universe to shape volcanoes of which their majesty can be witnessed when the sun rises over the mountains in the morning to illuminate them as their steam rises in honor of the heavens; the scenes of the Pacific Coast Highway (1) in California; being at home feeling the presence of the twisting live oak trees, or surprisingly witnessing the occasional sighting of an otter at play in the saltwater rivers in the Isle of Hope; the sense of amazement of being on Broadway (New York) and feeling the commitment of the artists singing/dancing/demonstrating god-like levels of talent – without the manipulation of technology – I previously had not imagined; or even the magnitude of peace and appreciation that comes with experiencing a kind and gracious human being.

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As I enter, my mind’s eye sees some history of a people – sitting, talking, questioning life, laughing, singing, loving, crying, hurting, dancing their own expression, living through the many vicissitudes of life we all can experience – but also the nature of life viscerally shared with each other.…not just them, but people overall…how dedicated people can be to what they love!!

Reminds me of commitment, artisan-ship, and the price that sometimes must be paid in exchange….when a certain kind of love bonds with a certain kind of place in a person; and, raises the question of curiosity about the nature of people and even more importantly….the nature of the characteristics of the process of creation.

A side thought occurs – beyond the judgement, self-aggrandizement, absence of the depth of insight, lack of compassion/empathy, callousness and ignorance witnessed daily – maybe those instances are simply an inability to connect/feel the process of human evolution simply posing as ugliness….never-the-less….

Feeling a certain permanence of structure, my soul becomes silent – this is about feeling….the type of silence that comes when our soul is seeking the awareness of the substance to satisfy what it needs.  There was a time when I felt – let the dead bury the dead.  Now I am more inclined to understand that the dead are not really dead when we seek to learn the lessons of their life and use them for our own.  Those reminders allow us to always carry them with us…in our minds eye.

Below – ‘the chamber of the revered ‘Eva Peron’

 

Personally, I am not a zealot of any thing to the degree of being blinded to the value of all the other streams of life that represent and point us to what is sacred…I will allow you to define for yourself what is sacred to you.  In these days of reflecting, I feel a sublimation of my basic instincts…as I move from only considering specific contexts and memories…to accentuating my wonderful experiences by adding in additional contexts to expand my own history and memory – for the purpose of creating….walking out of the Recoleta…I walk in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora Del Pilar….to sit, meditate, reflect…to consider….

Aye, a stream of life that activates and empowers a higher consciousness and plane of existence…In this ‘stream’…I am reminded of many wonderful experiences, but also how easily they can be repressed under the weight of the expectations of life, disappointments and all of those other nasty distractions.

This ‘Stream of life’ – sometimes we kill it in how we compensate for our day-to-day grind of life…and it distracts us from what life is…I won’t tell you what it is but, being reminded of the ‘Great Gamora’ again…I am reminded to grow…simply, to grow…

So what Tango did I find here? Well…although there are commonalities…we each have our own….and it amounts to something much more than steps….:)

Abrazos!!

Sitting here at ‘La Biela’…in my reflections, enjoying my ‘cafecito’ and ‘medialunas’….outside underneath the shade – El “Gran Gomero”…

With all my travels and experiences, my observations are no panacea or romanticization….nor, is it to say that one culture is better than another…it is simply that our personal and social experiences may at times blind us to the value or our own self or culture.  At times, a different cultural experience may awaken us to a higher level of existence within our own culture.  We can accomplish this by identifying a cultural component and its base/root…and using it to better understand our own base root.  Eventually we may merge them and increase the breadth and depth of our own cultural foundation as another expression of the universal stream of life – that is just as valuable.

As I continue to sit and ponder, the discussion with ’Beatriz’ comes to mind…”our intentions pass through individual and ancestral layers of memory and experience on its way to becoming movement.”  By creating new memories and experiences…can we then adjust our movements, our actions…our own cultural way of life?  More plainly – can we use this as a tool to shape the quality of our contemporary and our future?

As I sit here, the terms happy and joy or sadness and melancholy are not actualized…for I feel peace.  Peace like the waters….as in ‘still waters run deep.’  My tumultuousness is at bay…and I feel the place where I can just be…Knowing it will come and go…and I will have to work to make that feeling consistently and perpetually dominant over time…but, never-the-less, knowing it exists is a start to making it ever present….

This becoming ‘aware’, this consciousness – attempting to become aware of the things that we are not aware of…I can only speak of my own journey of my own travels…inside…it is not for everyone…no judgement, but particularly not the surface dwellers….It is for the travelers!!

Following the guidance of ‘Beatriz’ to go see the Tango that exists…obviously we aren’t talking of dance or steps – but experiences that shape the context of memory of which intention flows through…I start at a place where she took me to and left me there to ponder – ‘Palais de Glace’

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Many many moons ago…this place had a large wooden floor inside…and was a central arena for how Tango manifested as the dance….it now holds a large art exhibit…fitting 🙂  Art – as the expression of the awareness of ‘creative consciousness’ as described by ‘Julia Cameron’ in ‘The Artists Way.’  And, awareness of this creativity can create a spiritual path.  Hence, these posts are not about dancing…it is about a continual journey of walking through doors whose presence are illuminated by a consciousness of the streams/rivers of life.  As, some artists express their creativity whose meaning ultimately is reflected by our interpretation, I will leave your interpretation to you through some of these examples on display:

Artists (Marcia Schvartz) (Fermin Eglia)

Artists (Pablo Paez) (Dullio Pierri) (Nadia Guthman)

Artists (Santiago Garcia Pilloto) (Gabriel Orge)

If you look closely at the presentation of Santiago – you will see  a baby calf inside its mother with the head of the vulture also penetrating inside – for you to interpret…

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Artist (Nicola Constantino)

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Artist (Carlos Ronzsentroch)

Leaving the Palais, I come across another ‘Gran Gomero’…In many ways this tree exemplifies life…this place…As with this tree, are our roots ever straight or do they turn and twist and appear crooked, they are as we are….but, it provides a clear center line of life that with work we can perceptively see it as the straight path…(for those who know)…

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Just as poetry facilitates a conversation, this type of artistic expression can also initiate a conversation we need to have with ourselves…and who knows…we may actually discover what the actualization of sublimation means…play with it a bit…nurture your creative consciousness….and just see what may happen….

A la Recoleta….Abrazos!!

 

 

 

 

Well…..here I go again…as my journey continues!!!!  Obviously, from my perspective, it is wonderful to travel.  In fact, there aren’t that many comparable things.  To travel to a place, and eventually to places within places…ultimately you have to come to the people.  For, that is how we get to the culture.  Now, obviously some just observe cultures and some participate…and, then there are those of us who want to extract something out of it to keep as a token of that which we can continuously participation in ourselves.

To build our lives…to move beyond just social expectations and construction or being trapped within our own unawareness not even knowing what we don’t know.  But, to extend beyond that…and utilize what our awareness can capture to be used to paint our own beautiful mosaic on the canvass of our soul.  This isn’t just a journey around the globe…ahhhh….it is so much more than that…more of a journey into the unseen…and as that internal mosaic is developed, then someone else may catch a glimpse of it … if you or I know what to look for… 🙂

Of late, my journey has been set towards Argentina…and so, I return.  And, while I have been talking of Tango…this isn’t a Tango blog…but, reflects how Tango is a part of the overall journey.  And, since I am talking about a journey it could just as easily be stated the other way around.  Clearly, dancing is a part of it…but, more importantly I am referring to the Tango associated with the Milonga of Life: the Life Milonga – ehhhh….for those that know 🙂

It is wonderful to make it back to Buenos Aires, and to be comfortable with expectations, friendships and new experiences…and growing even more comfortable.  In many ways, my friends here in BA, particularly Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas, are ‘mis puertas’ to other ‘puertas’.  The same as ‘mis puertas’ in Atlanta and other places – they know who they are!!  In fact, they exemplify the benefit of getting to know people and building relationships when traveling.  As, I said…this isn’t about simply dancing steps…it is much more about the steps of life of the heart…of growth…of thoughtful and soulful evolution…in affect…it all means something…to me anyway…

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the esteemed Coffee Houses of Buenos Aires – “La Biela”  …. known for delicious coffee and medialunas and such….

At “La Biela”…..I met with a new Special Friend “another puerta” – Senora Beatriz Dujovne.  Beatriz is the author of one of the most amazing books I have ever read, “In Strangers’ Arms.”

One thing I love about this place and other cultures…there is only so much political correctness…if you are fat well, you are fat…if you are skinny, well you are skinny…so when I walked up to her…in true Portena fashion…she didn’t recognize me at first…and then when I approached she said, “tu cabeza – your head”…and, then she laughed…and in my own head…I said, “yes, I have a big black bald shiny head”….*laughing*…definitely, so good…well…I do…just is what it is….*chuckle*….

Without going deep into the book – which is easy to do – she provides a firsthand description…of not the surface or the perfunctory…but, of the heart of the culture of Tango which is also an essential history of Buenos Aires.  But, here is one atomic tidbit –

“A fully lived Tango is all about the exaltation of a human connection at the primitive level of our senses, movements, and reflexes.  It sublimates our basest instincts, which actually interfere with dancing, and draws out our memories, histories, sentiments….”

Beatriz Dujovne

Yes, for some it is just a dance…but, for others…it is so much more.  For me…it is another expression of the same things I have found in many other places around the world – ‘A Door.”  And, these doors I am walking through.  The vicissitudes of life can eventually show us those things that are critically important and those things which are not.  Sometimes it is the timing that allows us to recognize the door and then walk through the door.  Personally, I am ready to walk!! (no pun intended)….  And, so….This conversation with Beatriz was for me and my journey…so, I will not share it here.  We each need our own conversations, our own reflections that are directly associated with our own internal journey.

But, I often think about the places, I have been…but, really more importantly…the people I have met….these people that are doors to other doors….doors that can be opened to find not just another part of the journey, but actually help us find answers to some of the questions we ask along the journey…

If you aren’t a traveler, then you will most likely not understand…and that is okay – no judgement…but, for those of us who are travelers…things are always more than what they seem…

It was so kind of Senora Beatriz to allow me to spend some time with her this morning.  And, as we sat and talked – it occurred to me that we don’t always know where our journey leads…or sometimes even where to go…life, pain, frustrations, mistakes, obligations, competing interests, can make the path seem unclear…yet, even when it is unclear…it is still our path.

When our time, at that moment, came to a close…like an oracle, she showed me where I would find the path for tomorrow with steps for another day…

In these places, starting near the ‘Recoleta’…she said…”there is so much life, so much Tango…”…..but, we have to open ourselves to feel it….more on this tomorrow…

Abrazos!!

 

As you can probably tell, I am not posting on my blog in real time these days.  My trips, as a result of a number of reasons, have really evolved into being more a personal pilgrimage – a journey within myself to identify further my person…and to use these experiences to further evolve myself, with intention…. some may call it utilizing self-creation as a tool.  In truth, as I take my time…I rather enjoy it.  It allows me to re-live the joy of the experience over again long after I am gone.  So even as I write this, I experience the feeling of wonder and peace as if I am there with my new friends right now!!

As I have mentioned, while I am chronicling my journey…this isn’t a Tango blog.  I am nowhere near developed enough to create that…nor is that my interest of intention.  There are plenty of those out on the web both horrible and disrespectful to women and men and reflect a complete ignorance of the deeper aspects of what Tango is and what is means!!  Oh, we can take classes…learn the steps…that isn’t it!!

At the end of my last post I said, “Tango isn’t just a dance”…it isn’t just a bunch of steps…it isn’t just a walk, a giro (turn), an ocho, a gaucho, a hook, a sacada…or whatever…it definitely isn’t simply the ego…when Alejandro introduced me…they treated me like family…so, Tango is much more than a dance…I met people who go to Milongas simply to listen to music and see and talk to their friends…to be a part of their community…even when they talk about each other or fuss about each other…they show that they are family…oh, one of the most beautiful expressions…not styles…but expressions of humanity I have seen…

And so, each time I have gone to Buenos Aires…. We sit and eat…and that…means an abundance of things…similar to the Tango community that April Parker and Angel Montero (yes, have to give a shout out to my peeps 🙂 create around themselves in Atlanta…after class we head to Felinni’s…love the class and dance…but the social part…they don’t forget…which makes you want to be a part of what is taking place…and, another point…Felinni’s Pizza is SICK…whew…SO GOOD….

So again, just prior to the end of my trip…Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas invited a mix of friends over for dinner…and, I will say…so that I could have more friends also…and I could join the pack 🙂 and now I am fully vested…

A mix of people from around the world….left to right, Rachel, Patrick, Alejandro (that man can cook), Erzsebet, Leroy, Yumiko, and Jane…talk about a wonderful time and conversation…actually, quite hilarious…Leroy is pure energy and fun…who would of known I would meet a retired fire-fighter from Chicago at the Tango House of Alejandro Gee in Buenos Aires…not to mention the unique stories of everyone else around the table..stories of Great Britain, California, Buenos Aires, Eastern Europe, Tango Champions….and much much more…and, I’ll leave the adult conversation within the context of what is talked about in House Tango…stays in House Tango 🙂

You can see the pictures…but, can you feel them.  Ahh…a Tango question…you can see it, hear it…you know where you are…but, can you feel it in your core…we are having such a good time….

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No steps, no patterns, no posturing…but, you are looking at Tango…as I walk my pilgrimage finding my way…thank you to all my new friends for touching my life and helping me to see what I have on the inside…helping me to be my own Alchemist…and Yes, Erzsebet…my chakras are improving….

Hasta Pronto…Mi Amigos…

 

 

 

 

 

Although my primary emphasis is to expand the depth of my pilgrimage, learn the city, absorb the culture, figure out Tango, there are certain things that must be experienced…not just as a tourist…but, to acquire the feeling so that you can learn to understand it.  Thus, Confiteria Ideal and Obelisco Tango becomes a must.  First,

Confiteria Ideal!!  An amazingly historical place in the history of Tango and Buenos Aires…to the degree that the BBC did a specific special on it.  There are regular rumors that this place will be closing down. So, I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to visit, absorb, check it out…and get a dance in 🙂  Now, as I mentioned, I am on a journey of sorts.  I make no projections that I am a milonguero, Tango expert or anything near those levels.  As my friend April Parker says, I’m just a Tango baby…and I’m trying to find my way 🙂

One of the things I find so interesting about this place, is that locals will show up during lunch hour or whenever they have a break or when they just want to dance throughout the day.  And so, even in the early afternoon, you will find regulars here as well as entranjeros (foreigners) enjoying their Tango.

This place is absolutely beautiful.  You can order food and drinks…whatever your palate desires and get your dance on.  Now, I am going to be forthright…being a Tango baby…it can be rather horrifying to come to a place such as this, or El Beso, Gricel, Obelisco, and Salon Canning when you are learning to dance.  You may see people that look like they could use a walker, but when they hit the floor and the music comes on…they move with the grace of a Gazelle or Ballet dancer…and here I am…feeling as if I am fumbling around.  But, eventually I engaged in the Cabaceo…and started dancing.  And, it was such a wonderful feeling to overcome that fear and dance in Confiteria Ideal!!  And, at the end of my dance…La Senorita said to me, “Senor, tu caminata is muy bueno”…ha ha ha ha…man…talk about walking on cloud 9!!!!  It was all I could do to keep from running back at that moment to Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas and yell…I did it…I did it…talk about taking an internal pilgrimage and learning about yourself…ahhh…so good!!!! 🙂

Confiteria Ideal is a landmark in and of itself, but has many collectors items within giving testament to the history of Tango.

And, of course…there must be tributes in place to the historically amazing Carlos Gardel…

Needless to say, that when I walked out of there, my feet were not even touching the ground.  There are a great many things to be said about facing your fears…which begs the question…are you growing as a person, are you really on an internal pilgrimage if you have not faced your fears.  As Pema Chodron would ask, “have you faced the snake…have you faced your greatest fears…and made peace with them” …then you grow… if not…then your are not…

Walking outside, I love to see the markers for some of the basic Tango steps…it is in the life blood of the city…whether many Argentinians respect their historical Tango or not….

Later on that day….while I was still on Cloud 9, I get back to Alejandro’s Tango House.  Alejandro says to me, “aren’t you coming out with us tonight”…sometimes I was tired, sometimes admittedly I was a bit unsure of myself – only a few people I know want to intentionally look like an ass 🙂  Ha Ha…but, yes they are out there…not something I would do on purpose 🙂  In this case, I was on my cloud and said, “sure, why not…thank you.”

So, this evening I met Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas at Club Obelisco Tango.

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And for those that are curious and for entertainments sake, here is a posting of some rules and some Tango art 🙂

 

As we arrive and I sit at Alejandro’s table.  And, it is common that the regulars have their own reserved table.  So, I sit with Alejandro…a few of his friends are there and more are arriving until we eventually have about eight (8) people at his table.  Now, admittedly my Spanish is limited…although it is significantly improving 🙂  All of these gentlemen are older…as I talk with Alejandro…some of them have been dancing together over 60 years.  Of course, me…I am a Tango baby I’m not fawning or flopping all over the place.  I don’t know much of anything about Tango…I’m learning…All I know is..it isn’t the typical club scene..people are sipping a little…maybe some Champagne, wine, a taste of liquor here and there…and empanada or such and some water…and although I’m learning Spanish…they are still talking to me…and I’m talking to them…like we are all understanding each other….I watch them dance, I dance a little (YES YES) ha ha…and I am having such an awesome time… that I ask for a picture to be taken…talk about some of the coolest people…sitting there with them I learned so much about Tango that isn’t really taught…and so, I got this wonderful photo of us:

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Going left to right is: El Flaco Dany, Tango Alejandro Gee (my friend that I stay with at his Tango house), Osvaldo Centeno (kind gentleman that gets me back and forth to the airport), Tito Rocca (am amazing Tango singer), Ricardo Luis Gallo (el pollo; what a fun man), Cacho Latronico, and Tito Franquelo.  Just absolutely fun and amazing people…

We get through the night….one of my best nights ever…walk outside and I’m just taking in the night air..and snap this photo…you to take at least one picture of Che Guevara…if you don’t…especially if you are from the U.S., then you probably really need to see somebody professional 🙂 It’s not the best picture..but, it is Che…

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So, it’s been a long day…and a long night…I get back to Alejandro’s…do a bit of reading and post the picture I got with the Milonguero’s….now I don’t know much…I’m still learning…but, in the morning when I look at my facebook page…I see a note from my friend and instructor in Atlanta (April Parker ) that says and I quote:

LOOK AT THAT Malik Watkins!!!! Holy mother Mary of ****, you’re hanging out with the Tango Gods! Dany El Flaco FTW!!!!”

So, then people start asking me…how did you get to sit with them…I’m like…ehhh…with who…I don’t know…I am Alejandro’s friend…so I just followed him like he…uhh…said… Well, now that I’ve done more reading…and am learning the history of Tango…it would be similar to a foreigner coming to the United States  and following a friend…and you join your friend at a table with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and etc….and, these Milongueros were so accepting….so cool…and never treated me like the clueless Americano…which I certainly was…I learned so much about Tango that evening….it isn’t just the dance….Thank You so much to the Milongueros that evening, they treated me like family…and I felt a part of a family….and nothing but Love to Alejandro and Erzsebet….and you too April Parker (funny lady)….

Buenas Noches!!

 

Two of the things I love most about each day.  First, is my Tango lesson with Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas; Second, my daily walk around the city.  Public transportation is there if I really need to get somewhere, but oh how I love to just walk, feel, smell, taste, and experience each thing of each day here 🙂

Today I go off into a different direction.  One thing for sure in BA, Argentinians love their dogs/pets and they are everywhere…watch your step bubba 🙂  They love them to the point as in many larger cities, there are people whose profession is to walk dogs – I ain’t mad cha!!  But, how many dogs can a person walk at one time.  Obviously, I would have gotten that Jeopardy Question wrong.  But, I do have to ask…now where are the pooper scoopers?:

Never-the-less, everyone looks at peace…so, I’m gonna be peaceful with them…besides…look at this common view:

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Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Yes, old world architecture with the appropriate breaks with balance…but, if you sit there and reflect on the history of Buenos Aires, of Argentina, of the socio-economic dynamics both historical and contemporary and its relation to Tango…what do you feel on the inside? 🙂 ahhh….gotta love it…

And, while I do love street scapes such as this…the people, the families, the youngsters, this kids…bring it to life…

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Kid on a skate-board riding the rail…okay, it’s a great picture..thanks for the compliment 🙂

This day, I headed out without a plan…just to roam, and feel and reflect…and just by chance I came upon another wonderful gem.  The CG on the building…stands for Carlos Gardel – this is one of his original homes:

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For many, Carlos Gardel stands as the most prominent person in the exquisite history of Tango…in short…his life is the quintessential exemplar of Tango.  What a wonderful surprise to come upon his home/museum.  I won’t write a long essay on him, if you don’t know who he is you can always look him up.  For those that know, then you can imagine the emotional response associated with this aspect of my internal journey….nothing but love…

More inside the home/museum of Carlos Gardel…where he spent his time composing, writing…so interesting…

 

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As with many of the great ones, Carlos Gardel met death in an untimely manner. It is said that Carlos Gardel died in a manner befitting him….in that “without knowing pain or agony, as he deserved, as he created songs that poured balm on the lives of others…

If you know Tango, then you can imagine the feeling of spending time in his home reading about his life.  If you don’t, then compassion can guide you to that place.  What an amazing experience, and my own reaction to this experience…will just keep adding to the depth of my own compassion…

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Continuing on my stroll…always on the look out for what is to be really seen…I love to see people from all the variations of life…and to refer back to what I have read, what I am learning…and ask myself…what is that human story…how did they get to this place…oh, it’s beautiful…

Oh, to see…to feel….to sit and become a part…yes, my feet hurt 🙂 my legs are tired…even a bit frustrated trying to build the muscle memory and mental awareness to dance my Tango…it isn’t always easy going through the process of finding your way….then again, that’s what makes it sweet…especially when you can sit…and like a seed, allow yourself to grow…

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Indeed, there are some things that really just catch your eye.  Now, in all truth, I can’t even tell you what exactly this building is…but, sometimes you don’t have to know in order to acknowledge the time, effort, skill, diligence and mastery that screams from something that has been created:

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Another long day…another absolutely amazing day…my mind is over-flowing with what I have learned…so walking helps me to process everything and place it in a context to be used for present and future growth…and as the sun goes down…I love this part of Buenos Aires as well…the views at night, the flow of people, the change in how something looks from day to night…being a night creature…maybe you understand what I am saying…things can be just as beautiful even when they have a cover on:

Definitely will be checking out the theater on my next visit.  🙂  Walking back to rest, come across a beautiful view.  A program being held to support those with personal problems such as Alcohol use and other maladies…amen to that!!!!  It is beautiful to see people not just focusing on condemning other people, but trying to do something to help them.  That, in and of itself, is beauty…

And so, another day…another night…another period of growth…a pilgrimage may look one way on the outside…but, trust this…that isn’t what is really taking place on the inside…if you are making progress.  And, as the evening comes to a close:

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I love me some Buenos Aires….Buenas Noches!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call it a rhythm…call it routine occurrences…but, so many things can be categorized within the cycles of life.   It seems that, of late, I am continually touching on a cycle in life that places information on ‘pilgrimages’ into my mind.  Pilgrimages of the type – Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James); The Hajj (Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca); or, even the Mount Kalaish Pilgrimage in Tibet (Buddhist and Hindu).  On the surface, the associated discussion is treats the pilgrimage as a component of a person’s faith…. a journey that symbolizes devotion.  And, while this may be offensive to some – no apologies in advance – herein resides a problem.

It should be much more than a simple act of devotion, it should really comprise an opportunity to identify, explore and realize what exactly resides within ourselves.  That is why I get a lot more out of discussions on pilgrimages that are fashioned after Paulo Coehlo’s El Alquimista (The Alchemist).  The journey…the pilgrimage within…is indeed…the most fascinating…how we respond to our walk…to our pilgrimages…is the clearest illustration for us…on what resides within…

When I read back through this blog, I become fascinated over and over again at the opportunities I have had to see the world….in many ways…all of those experiences represents my own pilgrimage.  Not a pilgrimage to just see one thing or to take one walk…but, the pilgrimage of many places, of many things…and of many walks.

Of course, this part of my pilgrimage includes a great deal regarding Tango.  It is amazing to read a book such as ‘The Quest for the Embrace: The History of Tango Dance 1800-19830’ by Benzery Saba…and then walk the streets of Buenos Aires.

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One part that screams volumes to me is the discussion with renowned milonguero – Carlos Gavito,

“when I learned, around the 60s, there weren’t so many names.  Tango was very individual, very personal.  Everyone had his own different style of dancing…that’s why for me, there are no tango styles…the style is the person. Milonguero style, for example, doesn’t exist; the milonguero exists, the one who’s dancing.  I spent the greater part of my life at the milongas and I dance Gavito.”

Ahhh….so beautifully said!!  Now, as I’ve said before…I don’t pretend to be a Tango master…I’m clearly a Tango baby…that is looking to find the way…but, I do see how so many camps exist and have always existed…and it really resonates with me…to not just focus on the style…but recognize it as an expression of that person….and that is alright with me.  And so, as I take my trips to Argentina, and walk the streets of Buenos Aires…I am looking to find my way…my way…my journey…my pilgrimage inside of myself manifested by what I see and feel in the environment.  And, having arrived…here I go… 🙂

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Oh how I do love the feel of the old city…without going into the implications of various types of city planning…the intimacy of the feel, the architecture, the variations in people walking down the street, how close everything appears.  I do love the opportunity to visit a place more than once so you actually get to know it…it becomes a part of you.  The familiarity helps to build the expectation of comfort even in a place where you are just learning the language and the culture.

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Such an absolutely beautiful day…to get out of the car…and to just walk amongst people…to observe life and its various expressions…

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To see the children play and learn proper soccer technique…to hear the sound of joy coming from them with the chatter.  Interesting how many places I’ve been are much better than the United States in soccer…with all the technological advances, these other countries always seem to come out on top…even without the riches.  That screams many things…for those on the inner pilgrimage.

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And, ohhhh, this building always speaks to me: Palacio del Congreso Nacional Argentino….always one of my first stops…just to sit and look.  It always makes a trip better for me to read about a place, then to go see it for myself.  In this case…the interplay between how social and political dynamics impacted Tango, and vice-versa 🙂  Amazing to travel and to become a part of it, to the extent that you can actually feel it!!

I must say, it is also beautiful and common to see Argentinians express their social and political views…right at the gate of the Congress building…it isn’t just a unique United States trait…every visit and practically every day you see someone expressing themselves in the local political process – protecting the animals from cruelty, and also protesting President Obama’s visit in this case:

Getting to know a place, its expressions and how you respond to it…one of the tasks of the pilgrim 🙂  So, as I walk…behold…all you Tangueros…

The National Academy of Tango…and a plaque for Carlos Gardel…for those in the know…he is the Humphrey Bogart, among others in South America…and in many ways…exposed the world to Tango.

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What a surprise of a gem.  Now of course everyone in Buenos Aires doesn’t revel in the history of Tango, but it is beautiful to see those who do celebrate such a rich contribution to world culture (more on him Carlos Gardel later).

Ahh…so wonderful to be back in Buenos Aires.  So after a long walk, it’s a walking city which is a much better way to get to know it, I come upon such beautiful places.  Many people visit these places.  But, I am visiting less for the tourist aspect and more to get a feel for the cultural expression to add to the quality of my internal journey.

I love how they light the city at night…colors and contrast combined with the context and structure…is really a powerfully beautiful yet subtle statement…almost sounds like a wine tasters description of a good vintage 🙂  The Pink House, the parks, those old structures…many a night…I just sat in solitude…with my thoughts…revisiting history, but also developing an awareness of my own feelings…no distractions…just me and my BA 🙂

After a long walk, heading back to Alejandro’s….I stop at my favorite Parilla (which he always teases me about) 🙂  To get some of the famous Argentinian grilled meat…they remember me from last time so it’s my personal version of the show ‘Cheers’ in Buenos Aires…and look, my old buddy sits with me while I enjoy one of my favorite dishes….cats are something else; mi amigo el gato 🙂

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Finishing up this day, long flight…long walk…good emotions from seeing my friends Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas….one last thing…

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Helado!!!!!!  Ahhhhhh!!!!!! 🙂  This in and of itself is worth it…absolutely delicious…texture…taste…context…I have to admit…walking into an ice cream shop to order so that you can practice your Spanish…that is pretty close to priceless…a nice slow walk to enjoy my Helado, then to sleep…Tango practice starts tomorrow….Buenos Noches Mi Amigos!!

It is obvious from my previous posts that while I am here attempting to immerse myself into modes that allow me to absorb Argentine (BA), I am also studying Tango…as far as I am concerned – the dance of dances.  Not just by traveling and being a tourist, but by studying the history, keeping up to date on politics, attempting to understand the context of federal and local government, attempting to become versed in local language and customs…and obviously the language – which is not the easiest thing to do at this age.  But, it isn’t always easy to reprogram your mind…and if you are going to do it…then language is a sure way of doing just that!!  Staying away from the simplicity of the big hotels and areas that seem to be nothing more than a projection of American or Western Culture – Yes, they have McDonald’s…but, not for the kid…

My return was wonderful for many reasons, but again…it’s not just about the place…it’s about the people.  So, I was so glad to see my new friends again…Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas…my Buenos Aires Hosts with the Mosts!!!!  🙂  Now, I so enjoyed a hug and kiss with Osvaldo (it’s an Argentine thing, you may not understand), but to see these two again brought a feeling of peace that comes when you recognize that you have found a good place to help you continue your journey in life:

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Just like Santiago in the book by Paulo Coehlo, “The Alchemist”, sometimes you don’t know where you will find your treasure.  I had made a decision that I was going to go the Buenos Aires, so I simply started doing research on the internet…came across several opportunities on Trip Advisor…and started emailing various people.  Several conversations were started before I first came to BA, and based on those conversations I went with Alejandro and Erzsebet.  To be sure, I took lesson from a few people when I first got there…but Alejandra and Erzsebet they had the stuff I was looking for…now this wasn’t a suit, a hat, some shoes, fancy moves and a rose in the mouth…This was and is more like Tango boot camp… 🙂  Not for the show..but for the SELF…to borrow a line from Christine Denniston, “The Meaning of TANGO: the story of the Argentinian Dance”,…and I am paraphrasing,

one old milonguero walked up to another asked him, “how is your tango coming”…the other milonguero said to him, “after 40 years, I think I am finally getting my walk together.”  Oh, how I love that sequence of conversation….as in many ways, that is the dance…it isn’t something that comes together after a few lessons…it’s more of a life time.  They teach out of Alejandro’s Tango House:

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An absolutely amazing place, excellent accommodations and location…full of culture, great proximity, and place of which you can personally attach.  And, Alejandro laughs when I say it is right across the street from my favorite Parilla!! 🙂  These two have been absolutely amazing…telling me where to go, how to get my business done, making my stay comfortable, talking with me about Argentine (BA) culture..and many other wonderful things..not to mention introducing me to El Beso, Salon Canning, Gricel, La Confiteria Ideal…and many wonderful people at the milonga’s and other places around the city….not to mention kicking my culo good every day to make sure I remembered my lessons 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂  whew…between that and all the walking to feel the barrio…I was a sore old man 🙂

But, let me be clear.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on Buenos Aires or Tango.  As my friend April Parker and Angel Montero (Atlanta Tango)  so appropriately calls it…I know I am a Tango baby…and proud of it!!  To be clear…

This is not a Tango blog…I am simply writing about my own journey in life…there are plenty of blogs in the internet universe that cover the Tango Journey and experiences….some of them are excellent…and some are written by individuals who are complete ‘BOLUDOs’….check out my Lunfardo 🙂  This isn’t a commentary on styles…old or new…or those from different parts of the world or even the Rio de la Plata Region (Argentina and Uruguay)…often times the evolution of the different expressions are clearly evident.  Either way, I am simply referring to my own journey…seeking my own voice and expression culminating from making peace with my own emotions and spiritual journey.  Thus, while I am walking along on my own journey, I’ll only talk about bits and piece’s for now…sometimes if you want to know what something smells, tastes or feels like…you have to do it yourself 🙂  So, on this walk in my current experience and through time…I’ll talk about a few things…but, the best part of it… in me…is yet to come…in the mean time…I’m so grateful to my friends in Argentina…those I have now…those I am getting to know…and those yet to come – so glad we found each other!!  By the way, I absolutely love the Malbec!!!!  🙂 🙂

 

 

 

When I first started this blog, and over the life of it, its primary purpose was to allow my children and loved ones to be able to follow along with me to these unique places.  Then part of it was to also document some of the interesting projects I was working on….then, as the places became unique so then the purpose of my blog began to evolve.  Not long ago I was talking with a group of colleagues, and the discussion of our hobbies came up.  Of course, one of my most loved hobbies/passions centers around international travel – unique places, things and people.  When they asked to name the places, oddly enough…those in the room had to fill in some of the places I didn’t name.  Not because I had forgotten the places, but over time it has become less about the places and more about the people – people – friendships in all walks of life.  When asked which of the places were my favorite, I didn’t have an answer for them.  All of these places are wonderful in their own way, and they all have problems in their own way.  What makes them so special is less about the architecture, the way of life, the scenery, or even the silliness and immaturity of naming a place simply for the effect of portending to be better than someone else who has not had that specific experience.

Because now it is less about the place, although they are all wonderful – even a post-civil war/conflict country such as Liberia, it is more about the people.  In some instances, places may help shape us, but for me it is the people and their life stories that make such a huge contribution to the expansion of the sense of humanity.  As far as I’m concerned, if my breast is not expanded after being someplace, then that means I have not spent enough time getting to know the human story attached to that area.  Thus, while this blog has its beginning in one context…it now has evolved into more of a tracking of my own spiritual journey.  Maybe one day I’ll put all of it together and fill in the blanks regarding emotional and spiritual evolution or what I was dealing with at that particular time.  Maybe one day, I’ll turn this into something similar to our grand matriarchs writing, “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes” (Maya Angelou).  But, in the meantime, I shall continue on my journey…. whether I am limping along the way or not 🙂

One of the things I like the most about international travel, is when you get to spend either enough time in a place to get to know people or you can go frequently enough over a longer period of time so it becomes less about just the geography and place and more about the people.  And, so in returning to Buenos Aires, it was so wonderful to get picked up at the airport and return to a familiar setting, face and personality in the form of My Man, Osvaldo….

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Now, please excuse the fact that I look like I have landed a starring roll on Criminal Minds as the new Psycho Path that Hotch, Morgan and the Team will be tracking down…nothing I can do about that right now 🙂  But, it does say something about moments….

Osvaldo is one legacies of a different era of Tango – Milonguero.  My Spanish sucks – although I am working on it – and, he doesn’t speak much English…probably none – Osvaldo speaks the Argentine version of Spanish – meaning Lunfardo.  Which I am even worse at, but better now.  So for the 40 minute ride from the airport other than body language, smiles, and a generally good mutual disposition – you have to love the human language….he said “muy calor”…and I said, “si, muy calor”… and we both laughed at that…meaning it is “hot as hell.”  But, that was sufficient.  It was a good ride, a good feeling, good to be back amongst the familiar.  It isn’t always about the spoken language…just an appreciation for humanity and the human story.  And, to add the effort to learn a new language, a new culture, a new way of life, a new dance…and to build appreciation for more that is going on in the world…brings a smile to my face.  Especially now, that I am making progress on my ability to communicate with others around the world…

Thus, it takes a little longer to write about the experience…as there is so much going on….”Hola Malik, Bienvenido”….

 

So, to borrow from my ‘main man’ – Donny Hathaway – “I’ve been so many places in my life and times…I’ve song a lot of songs, made some bad lines…I’ve acted out my life in stages…with so many people watching…but, here I am, and I am singing this song to you….”…of course I am paraphrasing :), and the expression of songs comes in so many forms…but, hopefully you get my drift.

If you know me personally or have read my blogs, then you know that I have documented many of journeys here…and some I have not, but maybe one day. Some of these travels have come with work, some from family, and others – well, there are always other impetuses!! Being a distinct Anthony Bourdain groupie, my first two steps when preparing for a trip tends to be Mr. Bourdain, and also a historical source that can give me the context of the past, contemporary, and future that I am about to enter.

While recently I was in Argentina in October (2015), that journey had only just begun. And, so now I return and the journey continues. Instead of following Mr. Bourdain, I am taking a different route. This is less about sights, although some relevant ones will be included, food or just the overall experience. This is more about my personal journey into some of that and my own personal depths. At this point, I’ve been around long enough to experience intense joy…and intense pain…successes and mistakes…like many of us, our canvass of life is painted with all of that, plus what we want to see, be and experience. Through the planning and embracing, I have been reading Pema Chodron…so relevant to this trip.

“embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to sear for unknown lands…Pema Chodron…

Some equate the spirit and the soul as being close enough to be the same. Let’s not go with semantics…the best definition of the soul I have ever heard was given by Maya Angelou – she said, the SPIRIT…is the longing…I will leave that as that…place in your own context, and ask, what do you long for? And, so I set off….

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(view of a ship coming out of the port in Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Out of all my travels, this has been the first time I’ve posted on my blog so far after the trip. For me, my trips are less about just seeing things, and more about pushing my internal dynamics – all of them – so that I can add the world and all its intricacies into the composition and flavor of the dish of self I am making…hopefully, you know that I didn’t travel on this container ship…but, thought is represented something hugely symbolic.

As we travel and experience life, we see horizons…the separations. Oh, it is much easier to breath above the separate…where we are all familiar with. But, as we travel and experience new things, feelings, experiences, people, emotions, history, and all the things that come with humanity…what about the horizon. Can we breath and learn to live underneath the horizon? That makes the difference between and person who see’s something, but can’t see it;…who hears something, but can’t hear it;…who experiences something, but can’t feel it!! That’s why there are those that grow up around significance, yet it escapes them. And, there are those that grow up around that others perceive as having no significance, yet they see, hear, feel and experience the world around them.

This may be considered as a bit deep by some for a travel blog, and others may find it more than appropriate. The latter are those that understand the significance of breathing underneath the horizon.

More to come…