On the Road Again!
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Iguazu... So I thought a 20 hour bus ride to see the majestic falls might be a bit miserable, but a double decker bus complete with reclining seats made the overnight ride palpable replete with plenty of time to observe and think about our wonderings...
Mate... While we’ve been here, I’ve watched many small gatherings of friends in front of shops, around tables at the hostels, sitting on plaza steps sharing a custom I’ve grown to love - people carrying around thermoses full of hot water and a bags of mate which is a little confusing as mate is also the word for the cup, the herb and the event. I’m working really hard at trying to develop a palate for mate as it has a rather distinctive acidic flavor... hhmmmm... Many Argentines (and I’ve been told Uraguyans, Bolivians and Ecuadorians) carry around a cup made from a pumpkin that has been dried and carved into a very specific shape with a wide round base narrowing to the top. The cup is filled with the mate herb and a metal straw with a filter at the end is stuck in it. The cup of herbs is then filled with hot water and passed to a friend who will sip on the drink until empty - you know that slurpy sound you make when you get to the bottom of a milkshake - that’s empty. The cup is then handed back to the owner of the thermos and the mate cup is filled again with hot water and passed to the next person. Repeat for hours! I’ve learned that the acid taste is lessened after the third or fourth person and some add ginger and honey to the hot water - I gotta’ try that combo. What I love is that there is no worry or talk about germs, and my guess is that it is actually healthy to share germs among friends - lol! I’m looking for the perfect cup.
And the history... There were only 1.2 million people in all of Argentina in 1850 and over the next 50 years 6 million humans emigrated to this rolling country making it second only to the US in immigration. The density of immigrants to the existing population made the influx quite intense on how Argentina developed. Greater Buenos Aires is now a city of 13 million and feels like a European city in the heart of South America. Italian, Spanish, German, French.... all impacted the architecture, music and food scene. Lots of pizza going on here! LOL.
And Tango... We took a lesson taught by an American who came from California over 27 years ago and fell in love with the dance. He described and taught us by using metaphors, and asked that we notice how the dance flows counter clockwise in an attempt to chase something lost... We followed our willowy teacher over dimly lit narrow cobblestone streets to an authentic milonga (held in an Italian cultural center) and watched the room fill with dancers which flowed with eyes closed women partnered with men who were leading with their hearts... And later we explored the barrio of La Boca (mouth of the port) where the immigrants unloaded and set up tenement housing in an attempt to find a better life. It was in this port area - in the poorest neighborhood filled with brothels and unrest - that birthed tango.
Love this City.
And an intentional community... How to describe Casapuente (“House Bridge”)... a community where we were lucky enough to land for a week! This multi-colored home that needs a good paint job in the NW burbs of Buenos Aires is a community that describes itself as a place to “find inspiration, create and expose your light.” The four caring beings that reside in this community consist of a beautiful and gentle young woman from France, a fearless and saucy American woman who has lived “Free Life” for over 8 years, a red headed Argentine with German roots that sits around the fire after work and creates delightful improv on his guitar (joined by the bold American who’s voice is as strong as her spirit) and Sebastian - the passionate Argentine artist and founder of Casapuente.
As we rounded the corner to find the house that warm Tuesday afternoon, we were greeted by a 20’ tall sculpture of a spotted black and white dog named Lola. A path led us past a living green wall (whose trickling water dripped into a trough creating a soothing backdrop for morning coffee) which led us to double French doors and into a room with soaring ceilings complete with chandeliers made from up-cycled computer mother boards and another of artfully strung retired light bulbs; the walls were filled with large abstract paintings, and corners were full of surprises - sculptures made out of found objects. (The one I loved was the most reviling. It was made from objects found on a beach and depicted a skull stealing a mermaids driving away on a jeep.) The main gathering area was full of tables and chairs that rolled and moved easily which allowed the space to morph into community gathering space for all sorts of events!
This foursome is intent on living a creative life - the way they choose to define it and outside of the traditional ways most earn a living. They talk about being in the creative moment and honoring the flow of their bodies, being inspired by the beauty of community and finding and encouraging the creative process that brings joy to each person. The financial conditions of Argentina make it a difficult place to live because of soaring inflation, which exacerbates the challenge of living a life based on an artistic and free way to live, but they have a plan... and it can and is working! If you ever find yourself in Buenos Aires and want to explore what living this way means, check them out. They are an amazing group of humans committed to peaceful, creative living - the way they choose!
And as I typed this blog, my daughters and I were traveling in Argentine style! Back on that 20 hour bus ride to the Argentinian, Paraguay, and Brazilian border to see Iguazu Falls which, we were told, rivaled Niagara (BTW, they stood up to their reputation)! And that double decker bus - the seats laid back, and we were handed hot meals. Not sure good ole’ Greyhound could compete....