A Day in Buenos Aires

March 18, 2018

A typical morning in Buenos Aires, for me anyway, will usually begin with a stop at the fruit stand…but, as the morning moves along, the stop for a cafecito is the plan.  As I think of it, when I am in the United States, it is customary to grab a coffee on the run.  When I am overseas, who ever heard of such a thing? What????  Coffee is the destination – it is an event in and of itself!  Whether with a friend or solo, “IT” is a moment to be cherished, and something I have come to embrace….

Thus, many a morning for me in BA, begins with my coffee.  This shop, Piazza** is located right across the park/monument area from the National Congress building.  When not heading in the direction of ‘La Biela’, Piazza is usually a stop for me – especially on a day of roaming.  It provides a great view of the area, an excellent place for people watching, and always the mental and spiritual room to reflect.

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This morning, I came across a quote by Carlos Gavito: “nobody can teach you the feeling…”…and it resonated with me…  It brought to mind so many of the things that we learn and do and mimic but never really get to fully embrace the natural feeling of because we get stuck in the surface of the perfunctory….

Whether it is through our striving for spirituality, religiosity, seeking the understanding of life’s questions…or simply trying to understand a language, art, music, a dance…or even travel…we attempt…but, can we feel it…and while we study and attempt to learn…nobody can teach us what to feel…for even with the same impetus, each of us may feel the same or something completely different…thus, a different expression in response comes out…

And, as I pondered and daydreamed on this mental journey, I saw this couple sitting in front of me.  First the newspaper, so many things are digital these days, it always catches my eye to actually see someone reading a physical newspaper.  But, the hand-holding, the gentleness, the tender expressions, their spiritual embrace that could actually be seen…what path did they travel to get to this point…was it just rainbow’s and bunnies? (doubt it)…was their joy, pain, forgiveness, mutual interest….were periods of lesser happiness given up to experience a greater happiness…yes, quite the pondering this morning….

This awareness has be looking back on my own life and reflecting on all the things and the events that transpired in a particular way that now has me sitting in an outdoor café, in Buenos Aires across from the national congress building on an absolutely lovely day soaking in the culture of international fare….pushing the internal doors that open to realize the superficiality of some of my own previous understandings….never-the-less, as the day moves on…I settle up…go inside, down the stairs to the bathroom to get ready to begin my walk… and lo and behold:

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sooooooooooooo……..all of that deep reflective thoughtfulness, soul searching, and deliberative attempts at increased awareness…well…PAUSE!!!!

I admit, that when I was younger, I had very little appreciation for art…Now…well…I absolutely love it…for many many reasons.  Somewhere in this world…there is a reason for this particular piece of art…there was a motivation, and intent, a purpose…if you look at the not so subtle and the very subtle details…there is so much coming out of this piece…and personally, I appreciate all of it…however, even my own eclectic nature has its limitations…I will have to appreciate this piece as a part of my memory…not as my current focus…hahaha…I will leave that to you…enjoy…whew….yes, you can thank me later…ok, back to me…

While I am not a Porteno, and don’t pretend to be one…I also do not feel like the regular tourist…more like a very comfortable foreigner.  When I come, people who work in various places or who stay nearby…give me greetings when they see me…they remember me…and admittedly that feels nice…especially in a place such as this….Buenos Aires is full of the ornate…however, it is the simplicity that is the most amazing to me…especially its relationship to the ornate…

It is amazing to me, how some of the coffee shops are just simple little places, and others carry the history of a museum.  Except, in fact, that the coffee shop is the substance of the museum.  Take for instance, Cafe de Angelitos on Rivadavia:

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This absolutely beautiful place – people – This is a coffee shop!!  Of course it has more than that, but yes…coffee…and walking by looking in the window…seeing the engagements, the sophistication, the culture…yes, coffee is an event!!  🙂

As the morning moves along, Buenos Aires is a wonderful place to be when you have absolutely no plans whatsoever…just roam…the architecture:

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If you time it right and are fortunate, you might just happen upon ‘una feria’ a street fair with some amazing items at amazing prices:

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And, I have to mention one of my favorite areas…a very long avenue, very wide, full of history, energy, life…any ideas? 🙂

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There are many places in this area where I spend significantly good time…while it may not be a mountain top, a brook, a beach, a temple, or one of the many sites that traditionally are talked about as being one of the great views or experiences of the world…in fact, move beyond the perfunctory…and it can be similar to those things…

To see people…what can be seen….and…

 

there is a meaning, like art though, we have our interpretations…that belong to ourselves…our feelings….now….this couple:

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I watched them for a bit…what is it…what are they doing…how did they get there…what did it take to get there….in actuality, they were quite captivating…talk about a spiritual embrace that made them stand apart…to the degree that as busy as this avenue can be….what seemed so simple about them, actually carries the answers to many an unanswered question…

Plenty of Art to be seen in the dynamic and captured moments of people, but if you are also interested in the more traditional type…then keep walking…you may come upon the National Museum of Beautiful Arts:

Traditionally captivating…many excellent pieces…the type of place where you can easily spend the entire day…look for the section that specifically focuses in on the history of the development of Buenos Aires and Argentina…it is more than worth the time…

To add, after a long day of strolling, observing, pondering….even better if you have a small earphone with some of the classics playing….you may come across another of the simply sophisticated wonders of Buenos Aires – Cafe Los Violetas:

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Yes, a cafe…are you starting to get the point about the cafe’s – SMILE!!!!

Like many other places, it isn’t possible to get the feeling of Buenos Aires from one trip…it is possible to become aware of the feeling…but, to understand it requires a guide.  Not, the tourist guide, but the guide.  Whether you are into Tango or not, there is this confluence that takes place that the term fusion doesn’t necessarily highlight the nuances that exist.  But, attach with the Portenos, and you will understand…you may end up at a place such as ‘La Hormiga’ or  ‘La Catedral: Social and Cultural Club’:

You might also find yourself, watching blues dancing, or listening to a contemporary band that has an orchestra nuevo type of feel:

Either way, you will give the standing ovation…and let me tell you something…this young lady…whatever stereotype her appearance may manifest, she is indeed a young Billy Holiday in Buenos Aires (I have the video to prove it) 🙂

As the evening closes out…you may still have the energy to keep going…maybe you will end up at Salon Canning, Gricel, Obelisco, or the Temple (El Beso)…but, maybe, just maybe….you may find a gem in San Telmo or La Boca…or….you may even find a surprise, along with a live Tango band, in ‘La Viruta’:

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I don’t pretend to know everything about Buenos Aires, in fact, I am simply sharing my experiences in that they may help someone else who is on a type of journey.  I started out further exploring my international interests, and that merged with an interest regarding Tango.  This interest in Tango inspired me to knock on the door of the cultural impetus of Tango…and more and more doors continue to open…to the degree that as these doors get explored…more and more friendships in all walks of life from all over the world continue to develop….and I’m referring to actual friendships…not ‘status-ships’….if you can tell, these explorations into the external create opportunities to better understand the internal…and vice-versa….something way beyond the perfunctory and reflective of the feel…I look forward to returning soon…in the mean time…

While these trips to Buenos Aires somewhat started as an exploration of Tango, the dance, all of these other experiences accumulated in my mind because as my friend Beatriz Dujovne (In Strangers’ Arms) writes,

“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…”

Fully lived? Sublimates?….mannnnn…..puhlease…..we aren’t just talking about a dance…however, as I explore what fully lived actually means, as I better manage my ‘ensimismamiento’…and I move into its realization…maybe I will eventually learn how to dance Tango….

smiling….

Amigos, Hasta Pronto!!!!

 

First Day in Buenos Aires, standing in front of the Congreso National…an absolutely beautiful sight that projects lots of things if your feelings are sensitive and aware enough to pick them up.!  … yeah, I know – my clothes are baggy…lost lots of weight – guess that is better than them being too small 🙂

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When I first went to Buenos Aires, I had no guide, no expectations and very few assumptions…probably a good way to approach life!  However, I did connect with Tango Alejandro Gee before I arrived; and, he literally became my guide so that I could find what I was looking for during my time in country – literally, experientially, and spiritually.

Sitting at dinner and a Milonga with Alejandro, he shared some excellent wisdom.  Alejandro said that an older Milonguero once told him, “in Tango, you have to learn how to walk in the dark.”  For me, that speak volumes of wisdom.  It solidifies how Tango has many analogies that can be used in our lives.  A story in the bible that is often repeated is how when the storms came and everyone was afraid, how Jesus spoke to the waters and said “Peace be still.”  For me, that wisdom is not just for the storms in the ocean or those in the sky – it speaks to the storms of the soul.  For those storms of the soul are the ones that really need to be changed into peaceful situations….not to mention the darkness faced by those struggling with the reality of mental health conditions.

One of the challenges of writing a public blog is that when you make your writings public, then people can read into your psyche.  But, sometimes we need to expose what is in our psyche for our own benefit and the benefit of others – so that those who may have the storms of life on their journey may also learn and benefit.

So it is true, we do need to learn to walk in the dark.  One of the things I find so interesting about Tango are the analogies that can be developed – being able to stand with balance; to develop our posture; to walk in spite of; to make sure that we don’t take steps that are too big or awkward so that we don’t throw ourselves off of our axis; to become aware of what we believe in, and to continually stand on it regardless to how groundless our situation becomes; to develop relationships based upon these principles; and to breath and lead with the heart.  Not just the physical heart, but our emotional center.  And, how this heart has to be used in maintaining our connections with others.  Sometimes in Tango we make mistakes – there may be a separation, we may step on toes, we may get lost; but, don’t stop…just accept the mistake and keep dancing..keep living….keep your heart aligned with….(you fill in the blank)….and continue on.

Just as these things inspired Tango originally – what is your passion(s) – what do you source to drive the power of your existence – what compels your passions to come alive – to thrive – to evolve – to give comfort – to bring you together with others – to build relationships – what is the inspiration of your passion? What happens to your passions – is there always joy, is there pain, loneliness, loss, happiness, camaraderie, family, love, the loss of love?  With El Beso – has your soul ever been kissed to the degree that when you smile it isn’t the mature adult smiling – but, it is the smile of a child – your inner child.  What happens with your passions – is there always peace or do the storms of life come along and you are in need of the words – ‘Peace be still.”

It is unfortunate that often times, movies about emotions are considered chick flicks. This indirectly undermines an understanding of the actual nature of the emotional capacity of men. Maybe one day, someone – whether it be a man or woman – will right that wrong and let chicks know they haven’t cornered the market on the expression of human nature. 🙂

With that said, it is absolutely wonderful to go somewhere where you can’t speak the easy language of words…you are forced to use the human language – a language of patience, of compassion, the language created when you stop projecting your own internal inadequacies and actually seek to understand.  This is the language of humility, patience and hope that a respect for humanity is met with respect.

I am being careful here with my wording as I don’t want to trigger stereo-types (e.g. cognitive shortcuts). So, without repeating the cliché that Tango was born in the brothels, let’s focus more on the river plat region. During this time very little interaction between the upper class and immigrants or the poor took place. And so, the Tango culture was basically born in how the immigrants and the poorer interacted together. Much of this social interaction took place at night, so let’s just say that the night time culture of an urbanizing environment brought together the people of the night who were from ALL walks of life. Those who frequented these establishments became known as Milonguero’s…the dancers, singers, musicians, and those who made a living during the night 🙂 … if you know what I mean – so let’s just say that if we are talking about brothels, we are also talking about pimps, prostitutes, thieves, and others that work in the night. There is a story I was told about a Milonguero who was a thief. The organizers still invited him to their gathering. But, they also knew to take everyone’s valuables and lock them up in advance. By engaging in this act, they could enjoy the Milonguero’s contribution to their social gathering, while also dealing with the reality of protecting their stuff!! 🙂 Consequently, when a Milonguero says, “to dance Tango, you have to learn to walk in the dark,” then hopefully, you get my drift 🙂 I got it…

What stands out though, is that these individuals from all walks of life were not just seen as some pariah. They were a part of the intricate mix of those who made the origins of Tango, of such, that it lasts the tests of time and continues to support people socially by bringing them together – not separating them. This says quite a bit about how being overly judgmental ultimately undermines the quality of our own interaction with others…not necessarily that of the person being judged….

and, the fact of the matter is – when people come into your life – they bring their life – the good and the challenging – judgement isn’t a useful tool – so, can you see there humanity – do you have compassion for them – if you can answer the question of why, does that build understanding – if they are willing to dance the dance of life – then, help them dance….

As I bring this specific trip to a close….being here, I was looking for something specific…looking to connect to the inspiration of Tango…to understand!! …. that is my learning process….Thank you to Alejandro Gee and Erzsebet Tamas (Jou Jou)….I found it…and now that I found it, I know what to connect to…Tango music, if they have words, are sung mostly in Spanish…but the relationship between the words, music and environment doesn’t always make it necessary to understand the words – if you can connect to the inspiration (some of us need that – and some of us don’t).  But, after being here and connecting to the inspiration…I can give you an example of what it means…click on this link, and listen to the words and look at the convincing expressions…and feel the emotion of what is being conveyed, and you will know for sure…what this trip was about….and what was found…

James Brown

This is a Man’s World

and now compare….

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Luciano Pavoratti & James Brown

Do you understand it now…?   Whew….I do…..!! 🙂

This trip was exceptionally amazing and I have to share and give thanks…thank you to all those that inspired it…you know who you are.  But, also thanks to those who give me instruction in Atlanta, Georgia – Angel Montero and April Parker!!

Usually after I travel abroad, I start to think about where I shall go next.  Well, in this case…I already know….with respect to Buenos Aires – in the next few months – Voy a Volver!!

And now we come to one of the main purposes of my trip.  This cultural exploration to delve into the inspiration and expression of Tango.  What I am specifically interested in is a specific style of Tango that is connected to the “Golden Age – the early years of the Dance.”  I want to see and connect with what drives the older dancers – many of the themes I have touched on in these posts on Argentina.  So, I followed the advisement of Alejandro Gee and took the walk to a particular Milonga being held at “El Beso – The Kiss.”

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When referring to an older style, a description of its inspiration is found in “The Meaning of Tango”:

Imagine a young man at the end of the nineteenth century, fourteen, fifteen or sixteen years old, living in a village with his large extended family in one of the poorest parts of Spain or Italy. He hears that the Argentinian government is running a campaign to bring people just like him to their country. They will find him a place to stay, feed him for the first week he is there, and help him find work. He has already heard that Argentina is one of the richest countries in the world – far richer than his own country – so he decides he will go there, make his fortune, and then come home and build a grand new house for his mother…

So our young man leaves, for the first time in his life, his mother, his sisters, cousins and aunts, and makes the long boat trip to Argentina. He arrives in the great port of Buenos Aires, only a few years earlier practically a village itself, now a bizarre mixture of sophisticated European capital city and Wild West frontier town…There are more people in each street than he has ever seen before in his whole life, and practically all of them are men…

Our young man finds himself far from everyone who has ever loved him and everyone he has ever loved. Perhaps in another place he would have consoled himself by getting married, starting a new family, having children to love. But the city he is in is a city of men. Maybe he will be one of the lucky few to find a woman to love him, but the odds are against him…Many of the men must have found the loneliness and isolation intolerable. The only place they could express their softness – the sweet tender part of their nature – was in the arms of a prostitute or dancing the Tango.

To dance with the women in Buenos Aires, the immigrants had to learn their dance – and learn to do it in a way that pleased the woman, or the women would not dance with them. The unique pressures of this extraordinary city, in this extraordinary moment of its history, formed the evolving Tango, and made it into something more than a dance. The Tango became an expression of a fundamental human need: The Hunger of the Soul for Contact with Another Soul.

– Christine Denniston “the meaning of TANGO”

Which answers some questions regarding Tango – what is the passion – what does it source to drive the power of its existence – what compelled it to come alive – to thrive – to evolve – to give comfort – to bring people together – to use as a tool to build relationships – what is its inspiration? In the history of the development of this human story, is it the pain, loneliness, the loss, the missing Joy, happiness, camaraderie, family, love, the loss of love?

Will not go too far into that as each person has to find their own soul in the Tango, their own longing – if you want to go that far – as Maya Angelou said it, “the soul is the longing…” so in the music, in the dance, in the embrace, in the camaraderie – what part of it relates to what you long for?  Whew…I like the sound of that 🙂  To sum it up…as the name of the club implies – “has your soul ever really been kissed”? And, what happened after that?…. 🙂

El Beso

Walking pass the door and into the stairwell, the color of the walls, the posters, the feelings generated by the environment and projected from the soul in tandem with the old style Tango music you hear playing,  and a sense of expectation starts to rise….

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Once you walk in you see every one seated by the organizer.  And, it reminds you of a traditional type of arrangement.  The organizer generally seats the women in one section, men in another, and couples in another – although in certain sections you will see them interspersed with each other…

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The environment, once you stop to observe the nuances, is something that reminds you of another time – a time when chivalry was a part of the order of the day.  Although people are seated in different sections, they communicate about a willingness to dance through the Cabeceo…a way to  inquire about whether or not a person wants to dance while both maintain their dignity.  If the answer is in the affirmative, the man walks to her and escorts her to the floor.  The main focus of the dance is to make the follower have a wonderful time.  Afterwards, the man has the responsibility of escorting her specifically back to her seat.  If she is not the best dancer, it is the responsibility of the leader to adjust to her in a way that still ensures she has a wonderful time.  I witnessed this on several occasions and the many examples of chivalry were quite impressive to say the least.

To watch the dance…

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Is a completely amazing experience.  I’ve seen many amazing things in this world, and this ranks right up there at the top.  If you get captivated into watching one couple dance, then it appears they are doing their own thing.  But, when you expand your focus, while including that couple, to include the entire floor….then, you witness one of the amazing views in life.  Similar to watching a flock of birds or a school of fish shift directions.  It appears they are doing different things because each has their own favorite steps, moving at various times to what they find in different layers of the music.  But, then it is as if a signal goes off…and, then they all move, seemingly, together counter-clock wise around the room in the line of dance – creating a glowing sense of harmony!  A beautiful sight to behold…

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As Alejandro mentioned, the majority of these individuals were older people.  Some appearing to be at least 80 years old…and many of them mimicking the walk of a cat…At first many of them just looked at me as I wrote in my journal with my look of amazement.

Then after awhile, they began to smile and an older gentleman sitting next to me began to speak to me.  Interestingly, as he talked, he quickly recognized that Spanish is not my first language.  And, I told him in my elementary Spanish way that I did speak a little.  And so, our conversation began.  I asked him about his style of dance, Viejo Estilo, the old style of Tango.  He spoke slowly and was so very patient that he gave me the time I needed to think and form my own sentences in Spanish.  Instantly, made me ponder what is it about older people that drives that patience in life and in the dance.  Just as if I was dancing with him, he made me feel good and made me want to talk to him more.  We indeed had a wonderful time.

As I asked him about the Viejo Estilo, their is only one thing he kept mentioning over and over again – El Piso! El Piso! El Piso!  El Piso means: The Floor…which goes into the vocabulary of the dance.  Never lose the floor!!  Right from the start when studying Tango and watching Tango in El Beso, you pick up right from the start it is a form of communication!  It is a language.  And, in every language you have to get the basics of vocabulary.

Borrowing again from Christine Denniston –

“A newcomer, to Tango, learns the way a child learns a language.  First, absorbing the language of the fluent speakers around it, then after about nine months starting to speak the occasional word, gradually gaining confidence and skill, until after about three years the child can have a reasonable conversation.”

In this communication of the language of Tango, there are certain focus points necessary to build the vocabulary.

Tremendous emphasis is given to just learning how to stand; becoming aware of your axis; developing your posture; and, learning how to walk…significant things that must be dealt with before steps can be performed effectively or are even necessary.  Of course there are more aspects to this vocabulary, but this serves as a start.  Now, keep in mind….I don’t claim to be an expert, knowledgeable, or even proficient.  In many ways, I am a baby still learning how to stand and walk.  Added to my own mix, I have ZERO, as in Nada and Nunca, history of dancing.  But, for me it isn’t a dance.  I’ve found some tools that can be used on my path in life that also allow a person to improve their relationships and build…

What gives me hope, is that I read of an old Milonguero – Old Style Dancer – who was asked by his companion “how is your Tango coming?”  The old Milonguero replied, “after forty years of dancing, I think I am finally getting my walk correct.”  *chuckle*….so, that gives me hope!!

There are plenty of sources you can use to learn about Tango, I’ve only discussed a few that are relative to where I am on my personal path and journey in dance and in my life.  And, believe me, there are plenty of principles in Tango and Buenos Aires culture that can be used to make the path and journey more mutually beneficial for all involved…finishing this trip with just a few observations – coming next!

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…

Buenos Aires, Argentina

October 22, 2015

When I first began to blog about my travels, the motivation was to document what I was seeing and experiencing so that my children and family could follow along with me. Then, as more people talked with me about traveling….it also made it very clear to me how fortunate I am to have had the experiences that come with worldwide travel. So then, blogging became also a mechanism to share these experiences with others who may be curious as to what is happening in various parts of the world.

One of the things I love most about international travel is to sit and listen to news stations and media outlets that bring a completely different perspective. Once you are outside of the States and develop a connection with the people you are visiting, then it is highly likely that you can easily identify how jaded some of the news coverages and political perspectives actually are and how they contribute to popular and un-popular culture.

As time has passed, and eventually I will post other trips that I have taken that have not made the blog as of yet, this blog has turned into something even more. Many psychologists believe that much of what makes up our personalities is a lifelong response to specific incidents, experiences, culture and/or events. Essentially saying that much of what is taking place in our minds is a response. The question for me becomes at what point in time do we stop responding and start creating what we want to be. Much of this ability to create comes from stopping the response mechanism and actively pursuing experiences that provide a foundation to build the mind that we want to have. I am clearly not saying that this is an easy thing to do…far from it!!! Because we know as Erika Badu beautifully sang – many of us are dragging mental bags full of all kinds of things that weigh us down. Never-the-less, sometimes we have to try to unpack those mental bags, and replace what is inside of them with something new, fresh, gainful, and gives us the tools to have a more complete life journey. And so…

We embark on another journey and this time we are heading south….way south of the border – to the land of Good Air – Buenos Aires, Argentina. As we move along, I’ll get more into the purpose of the trip and the experiences that await.

For now, it is quite a feeling to take off from Hartsfield- Jackson in the middle of the night, up into the sky…looking out the window into the darkness.

In many ways it’s a surreal feeling. Knowing you are flying over the Gulf of Mexico, places near to Central America and Cuba, down through Columbia and Venezuela…you can’t see much because of the darkness, but it is an interesting feeling knowing that you are there. Even in the dark, on occasion you will see spots of lights or small cities to peak your interest. Then, as the morning comes and the sun rises, you begin to make out the terrain – mountains, trees – this time it looked like parts of the earth had an Afro 🙂 so very thick. As the sun rises, you begin to make out the Pacific Ocean, Peru and the mountains in Chile. And in approaching Buenos Aires, you notice the changes in ground color and terrain and the obvious signs of life, farms, homes, and cities. Observing these areas, you may wonder what their lives are like. What do they talk about? What are their challenges? Is it the same as ours? What shapes their personalities? What would it be like to live their lives? Anyway, you get my drift!! It is always easy to make assumptions about people, their lives, their political and social perspectives etc…it is quite another thing to put on their shoes and wear their emotions and feelings…adopt the sum accumulation of experiences that shape the construct of their mind….

 

So, this trip will be a bit different. No one will be waiting at the gate, no guide (unless I find one), there are no friends or colleagues waiting to guide me around…this will purely be the experience of a stranger in a strange land. With a descent amount of knowledge about Spanish – but many of the people here actually speak Castellano…a different variation….’like I will know the difference’ 🙂

So, this is tantamount to taking off on an adventure like the ‘High Planes Drifter’…seeking to find what else the world has to offer. This isn’t the first time I’ve taken such a trip, and definitely will not be the last. And beyond seeking experiences to help mold the mind, it is also quite a feeling to hurl yourself into the unknown, to challenge what you think you know about people, their culture, their ideas, but also just as importantly – to challenge what you think you know about yourself.

I have a few surprises in mind that will probably surprise me just as much as it might surprise you. There is a specific cultural experience I am seeking this time around…so we shall see what we find….So….Adios me Amigos…and Hola Portanos….Here we come…..

Now forthrightly, although I’ve been many places and seen lots of things, international travel can be a bit overwhelming…stepping off the plane…trying to act like I have confidence in my Spanish abilities…well, let’s just say the first few people I came across were very nice and patient:

Had to get through customs with my Spanish – I got an A for effort at least…They let me in the country 🙂 Had to get a taxi into town – that gentleman spoke English so he went easy on me…the Taxi Driver…well he was a nice fellow…he just took me to my destination and let me rest – thank the LORD 🙂

So right now, I’ve taken a bit of a stroll, used my Spanish and their kindness to convert Dollars into Peso’s; set myself up at the residence where I will be staying; picked up some lunch (ridiculously delicious)…took a few pictures….

This is a photo of the National Congress Building in Buenos Aires right behind the statue of the ‘Thinking Man’ – always have to get that one in….

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Lots of beautiful architecture and amazing cultural activities to come.  But, for now, my friends, as my Spanish culture compadres do…it is time for a Siesta….