Things are getting under control. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I’ll be home in a few weeks, and by the end of this week Robert will be with me. Also, I’ve seen a lot of the city and feel good about my accomplishments and overcoming certain challenges. I've been taking the time to slow down and enjoy the city. Sip cold beer and gobble down cheesey pizza.
I spent some time last week exploring some of the cultural centers here. These are great! There are several scattered around the city and they offer classes, galleries of local artists, films, plays, discussions, debates, lectures, and various other exhibitions and activities.
I’m continually amazed by how much free art is in the city. Most of the galleries are free, not to mention to street artists, creative (and sometimes not so creative) graffiti, and so on. I’ve tried my best to take full advantage of the arts here. I was very impressed by two exhibits in particular at the Recoleta Cultural Center. One was “Echos of Tibet” by Alicia Fernandez. You can see her website here, but it unfortunately doesn’t have images of these current works. I think they’re amazing and show a great deal of talent. I particularly like the vivid colors and details she incorporates. However, I’m not a huge fan of all of her earlier works displayed on the website. Also, there was a display of photographs of Buenos Aires in the past. Some of the elegant buildings that are now crammed in the urban sprawl of restaurants, boutiques, and apartment buildings, used to actually stand regally on their own.
American movies are everywhere too. I’ve succumbed on a few lazy evenings to watching old movies or sitcoms on the TV either with Spanish subtitles or dubbed. Also, with some of my spare time on unambitious, hot days I’ve gone to a few movies here at the theatre. I watched Che: El Argentino, from Benicio Del Toro and Steven Soderbergh. That film was almost completely in Spanish and almost completely incomprehensible to me. Partially, this was due to: presumably poor sound quality in the theatre where even the English voices sounded muffled and unclear, Steven Soderberg sucking, a non-linear plot line, and yes, my own struggles with the language. I’ve also seen Doubt (in it’s original English with Spanish subtitles). I wasn’t expecting to like this movie much, but actually I was very impressed. In my opinion, the Oscar goes to Meryl Streep, sorry Kate! I could totally empathize with and understand Streep’s character – a conservative, strict, old nun. Now, that’s acting! Just the other day, I also saw Benjamin Button which was a total waste of time, overly sentimental, and more closely resembled the piles of stinking, cakey, smudgey dog mess on the streets here than something that is Oscar worthy. The wrath that I feel for this movie knows few bounds, probably because I had high expectations. Hated it! ….but, it could just be me. It’s gotten some solid reviews and some people in the theatre even clapped at the end. I also went to a cultural center to see an Argentine movie: The Tango of my Life. This was a great little documentary about a local tango singing competition. Luckily, it had subtitles so I could understand some of the nuances and poetry of the songs.
I also visited another museum that happens to be in a fairly inconvenient location, which is why I’ve avoided it. The Immigration Museum was a fascinating collection of stories, articles, and old relics, but by the time I actually found it I was totally worn out. I just breezed through the old building where immigrants used to come through and read bits and pieces of the stories and looked through the old photographs.
Sidenote: on the way to the museum I spotted the Microsoft headquarters here and a Starbucks on the way home.
I’ve also been keeping up with social activities, which can be a bit challenging for me due to my introverted tendencies. Pretty much every Friday and Saturday night I can plan on a fiesta of some sort hosted by the Colombians. I’m getting fairly familiar with their international circle of friends and feel warmly accepted by them. This last Saturday was the Dips Fiesta where everyone brought a dip inspired by a recipe in their home country. Everyone brought tasty dishes, and I was impressed and overfed myself. I made a blue cheese dip with carrots on the side. Well, it was fairly invented by me and not quite the traditional style, but people really liked the ‘spiciness’ of the raw garlic and raw onions I chopped up for it, mixed with the strong flavor of the blue cheese and the sweet crunchiness of the carrots. I’d say it was a hit, but so was everything else there. I left the party at 2:30, which was early since it ended up going until 8:00am.
So all in all I’ve felt fairly confident here with my easy-going lifestyle. Well, except in Palermo, in which I always seem to get turned around and confused! Bah! I did eventually find the Japanese Gardens and managed to have some relaxation in the middle of feeling lost nearly all day.