4. Oct, 2015

Returning to Buenos Aires with an Opened Heart and an Open Mind

Argentina II

I start by writing this nearly a week after I arrived back in Buenos Aires, such fun we have had since. As I have alluded to on many occasions, it is not so much the seeing and the doing but the being in and the feeling when you are seeing and doing.

We returned to a damp evening in Buenos Aires. It had been raining, but the sky was now clear and we were ready to see the forecasted eclipse of the moon and watch it turn red. We were in Recoleta, the resting place of Eva Peron, looking for somewhere to eat.

11.45pm approached and the waiter kindly told us if we wanted to go and watch the eclipse and that he would wait for us. It was a spectacular event. It took a long time to the full eclipse but it was worth it and within 20 minutes the moon started to glow red and I mean blood red. I love watching nature unravel - another once in a lifetime event and I was enjoying watching it with just a handful of other interested people. Several of whom had their phones and cameras taking photos and remember mine were at the bottom of the river in a croc's mouth in Tortuguero! So any photos you might see have been hawked from the Internet. 

Recoleta Cemetery is an interesting one. A huge rambling and often neglected set of mausoleums which house the once rich and famous. It took us several minutes to find the one we were looking for, Eva Peron. Huge crowds waited patiently to take their snap from their preferred angle  - one thing I felt when there was that yes I'm sure it was a pilgrimage for many to visit, but I don't think it is appropriate to pose Japanese style in front of a grave! Anyway tour of the cemetery was over and we left to see what was going on in 21st century Recoleta. A visit to a brew pub, good conversations and the cinema to watch Robert de Niro in The Intern. I know my Spanish isn't great but I made an effort and I had many conversations with the Hispanics like this one.

'Ola, dos adults por Pasante de Moda.'

' dos adults por 
Pasante de Moda .' I repeat.

The checker then turns around and sees the name of the film in red lights behind him and says  'Oh, dos adults por Pasante de Moda.'

We then carry on the rest of the conversation in Spanish about where we are to sit and what time etc.  Really, is my pronunciation that bad? I enjoyed the film. I liked a couple of the de Niro quotes and there were a couple of sketches, like the break in, which made me roar with laughter. 

I am a big believer in taking notice of coincidences. I think it helps me to feel connected to the world, like someone is right beside me reminding me that there is something so much bigger than life on Earth. Even though small I caught on to every coincidence. We had just left RDJ and whilst there we saw a small jazz group who played The Girl from Ipanema, a beach in RDJ and I had downloaded it and as listening to it for a few days. Whilst watching the film the same song, a song I had not heard in years, was played and that for me was a coincidence. 

We made an effort to visit the zoo in Buenos Aires a short tube ride away. A city with 13.5 million people in it means the tubes are often rammed. It was a pleasant visit on a beautiful day. Underneath one of the main statutes near to the zoo lay a man asleep under a sheet of black plastic and on top of several mattresses. Homeless and favelas in the main are rare sights in Buenos Aires but sad al the same.

Afterwards we go to a local cafe. John looks over towards a man and with a puzzled face wonders what this middle aged man is doing. He can see only his back. The man's arm is violently sliding from side to side as he sits at the table. I giggle. I knew exactly what he was doing. Playing a game on his phone. I have seen this many times, in fact I often get hit in the ribs during my daily commute by some fanatical wizard as he tries to beat the computer! 

Uruguay was calling and  so the next morning we were to leave at the crack of dawn, so some of huge pizza we had ordered for lunch was on the menu for breakfast. 

Our aim for the visit was to top up our dollars and get to know this land a little better. At the port in Colonia, our landing base, I got some dollars from the nearest Atm. Determined Argentinians also had the same idea as most ATMs had been emptied. So much for keeping the country dollar free, another blind eye turned. It is illegal for Argentinians to buy dollars yet the only way they can buy houses is with dollars - go figure. 

We took a walking tour of Buenos Aires; fascinating and another visit to the cinema. We always arrive late for the start of the film as we aim to avoid watching the adverts. This was no different. We arrived at the start time of the film and tried to locate the room where 'The Martian' was showing. 
'Oh no senor, you have to go to another block.'
Yes we had purchased the ticket at one cinema but the cinemas in downtown Buenos Aires all share the showing of the films and we had to walk to firstly find the correct cinema and then the room! Yes - go figure! It was worth it - a good film. 

A long trip to Caminito was on the agenda on our last weekend in South America and we took In a long awaited visit to the art gallery of La Boca showcasing some local art and where our favourite Argentinian artist, Martin, once lived. His art is vibrant, emotive and like much art tells a heart felt story that instantly connects you and draws you in. His collection and death mask were also on show. Loved it.

We have, and I know I say it a lot, loved our travels. People, the hotels, the entertainment, the provinces/barras, the ambience, the galleries, the sights and the politics have  created a flavoursome menu for us to enjoy. However, we love living. We love Bath. Ultimately the trend of loving living and living it to the full in beautiful places continues as we travel. We take risks. We learn to take risks safely. As I retread parts of the blog I was not wrong when I said we will start safely and as time goes on the risks will be greater. If nothing else posting my opinions publicly is a huge risk. I make judgements that I don't always like to share. This is the first time in my life I have written things down and that is the biggest risk I have taken. My phrase is 'by the grace of God go I. I mustn't judge, but then life isn't perfect and nor am I! I do judge.

Our mindset does not change. Our pace does not change. Our philosophies however alter a little. No one can visit the favelas of Rio and have the same ideals as before. We have spent 10 wks amongst the cousins of the Incas, Mayans and Europeans. An interesting mixture and one I would wholly recommend spending time with. Christianity mixed with a mindset on sustainability for me was perfection personified. In reality though it is so different. Money changes pathways and in poor countries the problems caused by poverty are polarised. 

What was happening In the world in October 2015? Corbyn or Labour policies was worrying millions - you may choose your adjective differently here, England were out of the World Rugby Cup, migrants  were a topic of conversation across the globe, Argentina and the USA were preparing for their upcoming elections, X Factor was preparing for another winning single in the USA and the U.K., the weather in the UK was unpredictable, teachers were preparing for a strike somewhere In the world, Syria was being by bombed by Russia, people travelled the world and snapped away as they ticked things off their lists and the local pub landlords and taxi drivers charged them 500%+ more than the locals! Nothing really changes!!!!!

I have seen many things and I have felt many things. When we have pain, like a headache, we often take a pill to alleviate it, but when you have seen things that make your eyes burn, your heart sink and your head hurt what can you do about that? It is often said that we don't like to see others in pain because it is distressing and it is not their pain that hurts us or distresses us but the pain we feel when we see them. Therefore suggesting that we are selfish beings. I don't know how I feel about this. I know that my travels have uplifted me and broken me and made me consider the life I live. Ebay's motto of people are basically good is true in my opinion. I work with children and people who work with children - I see goodness in people everyday. I travel - I see goodness in people everyday. However, there are two things that most definitely help to make people good firstly the weather - it is not just science that says this but generations of philosophers and secondly a political system which allows people to flourish in the manner in which they want to. So if people are basically good with good intentions then they will flourish in a good way if you let them. 

I hope on my travels I have not just taken something away but given something back. I believe I have been polite, generous and complimentary in the main. I have tried to showcase the best of the countries and its people through this blog and I have had numerous conversations with many inhabitants explaining my love for their country, their lifestyles and their people. I have tried to show an interest in their history and if they have one their plight. I have tried to live like a local, speaking the language, using public transport, listening to and buying their music, shopping at the markets, not shying away from challenges, buying and eating their food. I have smiled a lot and when I saw scenes like this one - a young man, similar looking to my younger son, jumped out of his bed made from a cardboard box whilst it was raining heavily on the streets of Buenos Aires to allow me to have a closer look at the shop window, I have cried a lot. I do not know his plight or his story, but it saddens me greatly to see.

I will always smile when I think of my travels but I will also be angered by the governments, the leaders who should be protecting their flowers and helping them to blossom.