Sunday, November 15, 2009

catching up: from paper to screen

Procrastination is getting boring. Nonetheless, I have no need to alarm myself. Although I have been absent from a/the computer, I have still been logging notes to share with you about my experiences in the beautiul city of Buenos Aires. It's quite remarkable how time speeds up without access to the technology that we are so privileged of using. Life goes on. I guess.

So to allow the virtual self to catchup with my experiential/practical self, I will be posting 3 notes per day. They will be dated so that all can keep track, or at least until my selves have congeled.

Enjoy, comrades!

November 7th, 2009 - CAFE @ Bar YRIGOYEN

By night it is a place of meeting. Cervezas, comidas y abrazos. Kisses on the right cheek. Complete amistad, friendship.

Just up the corner, there is a building with its outer wall lined with mattresses and slumbering human bodies. The overhang you pass under, in which they sleep under, insulated the smell of rotting urine and despair.

Around the corner, there is one family that sleeps. A mother, her pre-teen boy and a young girl about 9 years old. This is the divide.


By day, the streets are cleaner and the pigeons have replaced the pavement dwellers. Here to feed on the excess.

As everywhere blossoms in Argentina, there seems to be so much beauty by day and anguish by night. This is the divide.

November 8th, 2009 - LAST NIGHT... AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW

Last night was Buenos Aires' Pride Parade. HOMOSEXUAL CON ORGULLO. There were fake breasts on men and women in baggy clothes with faux hawks everywhere. It was awesome.

Outside el Congreso and Senado the people gathered. "Si. ¿Y, qué?" Rainbows and wig. Chanting and kissing. Groping and drinking. What a party.

Maggy, Jameson and I decided that we should join the celebration, not in every way, but at least we could drink. We went to the closest supermercado in search of an ice-cold Quilmes, a cheap lager that all the working class, and thus the trendy kids, drink. It's only good cold. When we got to the beer fridge, the bottles inside were warmer than our hands touching them. It was enough of a deterrent. We were told by a very kind 20-something: "Git wine! Iz de BEST!"

So, we moved towards the back and saw the walls of cheap Argentinian wine, all reasonably priced, all made just a few hundred kilometres away. But none of the them were twist-offs. Not one. I guess that's not how they do. No wine openers either. Nothing. Lost, without a ship, in a sea of booze.

Suddenly, the very kind 20-something emerged from an aisle and said: "Come, come! Cold!"

We followed her to the front of the store and she pointed to the deli section that was tucked away behind the produce.

"There. A la derecha."

Gracias. Muchas gracias.

A la derecha, the beer was so cold it frosted. We picked-up 2 bottles of Quilmes, 970cc, and paid $9.60AR. Approximately $2.25CA. For both.

We left, sat on a kerb with 10,000 people and drank. We talked about what this celebration really meant, especially to us Canadians.

There were no cops. No barricades to close the roads. The crowd informally closed them just by being there. Even the 16-wheeler trucks did not deter them. They had a right to be there. So this is was political freedom can feel like?

After a little buzz started, we decided to get some eats at our local cafe/bar (Bar Yrigoyen). It was packed. People drinking, sleeping and feasting on the sidewalk patio. Nonetheless, we needed their free WiFi (pronounced wee-fee) so that we could try to find a place to live. However, there were no empty tables and no prospects for any. Like I said, some people were sleeping, quite comfortably, at the tables. The owner/manager came out and asked us if we needed a table.

"¿Nesecitan una mesa? Un momento."

Literally, seconds later he had one of his staff grab a folding table and 2 chairs (Jameson grabbed the third) and added us onto the patio. The AGCO from back home would have shit its pants. Extending the patio, not enclosed, drunk people sleeping everywhere. The ERU would have been called in.

It got me thinking, even without the rules, people were still respecting the establishment. No one puked and no one fought. Incredible.

So we ate, we drank and we chatted. Then, we peacefully went back to our hotel where we slumbered.

Viva libertad.

November 9th, 2009 - SAN TELMO PAD @ PASEO COLON

We finally found a week-long stay in Bs.As. We are now located in the barrio San Telmo where tango and the arts live still.

It doesn't feel like back home, where artists are cynical and amazing. Witty and retaliating against some machine. Here, they seem to be optimisic and Bohemian. Free love and "forward-thinking" relationships. Lovers. Apparently. Lots of loving happening on the corners.

But, this is just San Telmo, I guess. There are other barrios that hold a different flavour. We will get to know them in time.

This 'pad' holds a unique but commonly found feel. Most buildings in this barrio are from the vieux riche (rico viejo?). Old money from the European 18th-19th centuries. So large and intricate. In 1871, Bs.As. was hit with the Yellow Fever and the rich moved from San Telmo into Palermo and Recoleta, leaving their servants and the working class behind. Nonetheless, as most people know, some of the biggest art communities are divined in the poorer regions. That is how San Telmo developed its artistic and cultural community. It's a little rough around the edges, but truly interesting.

Cobblestone streets lined with cafés and antique shops. Fruit markets, panaderías, carnecerías, cervecerías. I think I could get used to this.

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