Thursday, 26 November 2009

One of my favorite interviews ever..

Absolutely beautiful:

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

El Subte Línea A & Orugullo Gay

The Buenos Aires subway system, locally known as subte, opened on December 1, 1913, making it the oldest underground system in Latin America, the Southern Hemisphere, and the Spanish-speaking world. On December 2, Línea A (the first subway train to be built) opened to the public, and around 170,000 passangers enjoyed the first subway ride in South America.

I'm not biased, but my line of choice is línea D. When I switched to línea A to meet some friends in El Congreso, I stumbled upon this gold mine of the past. The inside has not strayed from its original wood craftsmanship, and the ceiling loop supporters have defeated all upgrade attempts of the metal bar. I felt like a train stowaway when I manually pulled open the doors and hopped onto the already moving subte; automatic doors have replaced all other lines except Línea A. It was great until everyone in the car jumped off at the next stop. Was it closing? Did I smell? Was this the wrong direction? The only conclusion I came to is that the pure coincidence allowed me some quality one on one time with Línea A in the year 1913. Cool.

Back to the future, my friends and I made our way to the annual Gay Pride march that starts in the historic Plaza de Mayo and ends in El Congreso. Buenos Aires has one of the largest gay communities in Latin America, and this annual parade celebrates the gay community and its progress toward equality. Last year, around 50,000 people marched to the beautiful Congress building, and I don't doubt that this year's number was even higher. People of all styles come to partake in the festivity as gay, lesbian, and transgender floats slowly make their way partying down Avenida de Mayo with endless electronic music, bright colors, gay pride fliers & flags, outrageous costumes, and drinks. The best part, everyone seems happy.

Somehow, we ended up on a float, dancing across Av. 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world, at three in the morning. One girl made her guy friend ask me if I was gay. They had a little bet going out of curiosity: she thought I was gay, he maintained I wasn't. Sorry sweets, I'm here for the ride, but the three of us toasted to the night nonetheless. When the floats made a semi-circle in front of the Congress building, it was our time to hop off. We had a blast and ended the night downing two delicious Argentine pizzas with a side of beer. The beauty of 1913 to the beauty of 2009 in one day? Not bad.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fútbol rules the world, minus the US

Under a freeway & the sole woman in this tourist free barrio, how the hell did I get here? It happened like this.. I wandered down some (random) side street, passing two guys I knew from my university in Los Angeles. What.. the.. how? At first, I convinced myself that my eyes were playing me for a fool. Trusting the instinct, I glanced over a second time. Indeed.. I knew them through friends of friends. They had been, by chaaance, visiting Buenos Aires and waiting to meet an elderly Argentine couple that they knew through friends of friends of friends. Damn.

In step with normal Argentine generosity, the sweet couple decided to fashion a connection between there and here by introducing the strangers to a pair of young Porteños. The elderly husband & wife (of course) asked (made) the young locals take the young foreigners to a River/Boca fútbol game. When I found this out, I laughed. My two friends stood out so starkly, even on this random side street, with their blond hair, blue eyes, and all-too-put-together clothes; they would scream intruders at the one location that epitomizes the strong and stubborn Argentine pride: a fútbol game. The Americans were nervously out of place, and the Argentines probably felt like.. Damn, really? We have to take these goobers to the biggest game of the season? True socios don't pollute the already electric atmosphere like that. This wold be a discredit to their name. However, the elders prevailed because at that very game, the unlikely group bonded over, and celebrated, their common passion: fútbol. No longer a obligatory date, Lucas even invited one of the visitors, the one confident enough in his skills, to play some soccer the following night. I laughed again. These guys were going to accept to play soccer with Argentines who live for it and spend e v e r y spare moment playing it?

Now, where do I come in besides as an amused observer?
When I happened upon these mutual friends, I became spontaneous tour guide. When I became spontaneous tour guide, I received free entrance to any side activities, aka, they invited me to sit with Mike on the sidelines and enjoy the show. Wonderful.. Inside access to Argentine life? I'm in.

The whole night suprised me. First, getting to Barrio Flores was an adventure in itself, being outside of the bubble that international travelers stay loyally within. Once there, I didn't know if Lucas would show up. I didn't really care at that point because it was ten at night, and I felt refreshed from the change of scenery. We found a small store to buy Mike & I some wine to go along with the game. The store owners were like the barrio: receptive, comfortable, real. We spoke in broken Spanish, gaining some respect for even coming to Flores, and even more, for coming to play soccer. After petting their pitbulls, haphazardly pushing the cork into the wine bottle (a desperate act but a solid team effort), and making new friends, we went to meet Lucas.

After a long digression, here arrives the highlight of my night, and the story behind the photos. The whole time leading up to the game, I was imagining this allll going down at some park under some weak lights. Lucas proved me incredibly wrong. We waltzed into some soccer playing haven. The sign on the outside boasted a place to play soccer, volleyball, and basketball, but let's be real. The only thing going on there is soccer, and the only people who partake are Argentine men.

Regardless, this place was awesome. Set up under the freeway, it included three 'indoor' soccer fields, divided by mesh netting. The guys that weren't (yet) playing sat with a Quillmes from the bar up front. The three of us were stoked at the chance to see something like this. I had no idea these places existed in Argentina, and apparently they're quite common. It's genius. Usually land under freeways are absolute wastes of space. Instead, this place provides somewhere for these guys to further their friendships, forget about their hardships, and play what they love. It stays open late and is always a healthy alternative to other spare time possibilites. If LA could every pull something off like this, it would be a much needed hit. Maybe it can?

The sense of comraderie and competition was overwhelming--my turn to be out of place. Still, I was welcomed, joking around with some of the players. The wine probably helped, and really, I think the regulars were amused that a girl had guts, reason, or especially a desire to make an appearance. Settling in with Mike on a bench, perfect for watching and picture taking, I was ready to see if Alex could live up to his word, and how the Porteños would receive a foreigner in on their game. He was definitely nervous, and the others he warmed up with seemed rather uninterested. As soon as he scored the first goal, though, everything changed. I was impressed. Mike was buzzed and stoked for his friend. The US unknowingly received instant fútbol-playing respect from a fútbol-playing kingdom. The competition upped a level, and the Argentines were glad for it.

After the game, all the guys hugged, kissed, whatever. Laughing and beers replaced sizzling (yet extremely respectful) competition. I talked with Lucas and his brother for a little, both I liked very much. The standard questions were asked: what am I doing here, what am I studying, how do I like it. My responses evoked the reaction that, by now, I know all too well. When I say I'm here learning their language, and yes, I'm in love with it all, pride washes over their faces. Literally, every time, with every local I've met, I watch as pride brings out their smiles and lights their eyes. Their expression says: hell yes, my country. They are so grateful that a foreigner, and a foreigner from the US no less, can see it too, see how amazingly unique this country is. Taxi drivers, colectivo drivers, strangers on the street, waiters, homestay parents, teachers, salsa instructors, strangers in bars, store owners, museum workers, band members, music goers, theater goers, coffee drinkers. I see it, everytime.

Saying goodbye to the guys, to the hidden gem of a soccer spot, Mike, Alex, and I settled in for a quiet but content cab ride home, until we, too, parted to go dream. Alex dreamed of soccer goals, Mike dreamed of BsAs' nightlife, and I, at least for now, keep dreaming about Argentina.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Guaraní People

The Guaraní indigenous communities belong to no border because they precede all borders, because they precede the discovery of America. Las Guaranías live in the jungle in Northwestern Argentina but also in Brazil and Paraguay, among other regions. These pictures in particular were taken in a community near Iguazú, Argentina.

What was my Mirá Vos? Where to begin. They live completely in harmony with nature. Meaning, their beliefs stem from the earth that cradles them and are inspired from natural wonders like their neighbor, Iguazú Falls.
Las Guaranías kill for need, not for excess, and utilize the medicines that Nature provides. Usually living to about 110 years old, these people don't suffer from cancer or asthma because their communities don't affiliate with the processed, the plastic, or the perverse. They refuse the overstuffed, the oversized, the over-want. They aren't into consumerism; they are into peace, participation, and independence. They speak Guaraní, which sounds more like Japanese than anything else, because again, they precede Spanish in the region. An example of their positive outlook, the Guaraní language does not have a word that means, "no." They embrace simplicity, and they represent what modern society has lost: the basics. When talking with one of the community members, he explained to me that they really don't talk much. It's unnecessary. They communicate through nature and through music and through body language.

Las Guaranías do, however, hold assemblies and come together to talk out what they are feeling, how they are doing. Seeking and acting on the consensus of the community, the assemblies are moments for everyone to participate, not just indigenous leaders but the Guaraní people. These communities are an alternative to the society in which most of us exist. Yet, they're not in denial about their surroundings, using tourism to supplement what the land provides and to rebuild their losses since European Colonization. To safeguard their autonomy (dignity)? They maintain a distance.

Don't get me wrong, I understand their lives are hard, and I understand that I am not intimate with their history. But when they extended us a Welcome to share how they lived, some of the others thought it was all so sad. I disagree. I think my fellow visitors are just unexposed and unaware to any alternative outside of our tumultuous consumerism culture. The Guaraní people do it right: happily in harmony and harmoniously happy. Nature will prevail, and when it does, so will the these communities. They are, bit by bit, moving ahead, unified.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Sometimes the hardest part is starting. That was me the other day. I couldn't decide where I wanted the day to take me. Finally, I chose to just Go. Jumped on a colectivo to nowhere and walked and walked.. and walked, and since I had started, I couldn't stop. The day rewarded me sweetly for my choice, and I wandered contentedly up Defensa under the stars to Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada, homeward bound. Casa Rosada? Nothing new. This, though, absolutely took my breath away. It amazes me that something so simple as pink lights can turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Maybe it epitomized the magic of the day for me, or maybe it was just so wonderfully unexpected. Someone else in the plaza explained to me that the lights were for Breast Cancer Awareness during the month of October. Whatever the reason, I felt like sitting with a bottle of wine to people watch and get lost in my thoughts before the glow.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Just Watch.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Street Funk

Hermanos Macana: Their sound drew me to them. I listened, entranced like the other street walkers who stopped to form the growing semi-circle. It wasn't even just the sound, their whole vibe was contagious. They had so much energy to go along with their funky, jazzy music. I asked the girl, who seemed to be with their crew after she handed the trumpeter some chapstick during a break, who this band was and where else they play. Over the music, I think I understood that they really don't have a technical line up of songs in order to be 'good enough' to play at some other location. I see it. These guys just want to play music. Play they do, they Jam. They're happy with the street, and it seems to me they really don't have any burning desire to make anything official (also apparent from their myspace page: Maybe one day they will. For now, they'll stick to the street Florida on Saturdays and give a gift wrapped with a big bow to anyone who will listen.

Loser Wins

These guys just up and set up shop in San Telmo next to this mini-garden. Hilarious that the one guy's shirt says Loser on it, but what a wonderful idea. I contemplated asking to take one of them on for a quick minute but decided not to interrupt directly and just snap photos instead. They asked me to send them the pictures.. Che, here you go.

Peron is definitely one of the controversial figures from Argentina's history. This quote loosely means: it's better to have less talk, more action, less promises, more action.


Meet Fredy. He was my homestay dad before I had to move because of logistics. His jolly laugh comes with this light in his eyes and absolutely makes my day. Born in the small province Esperanza, he studied law until one day he woke up. Law? Hell no, thank you. My passion is photos, he said to himself. Fredy has driven that dream ever since and what a beautiful photographer he is. I adored and adore him. Living with them for a whirlwind month, they are proud, loyal, creative, passionate, and hilarious people. Cecilia and Fredy met in the province of Santa Fe at 17, worked to live on a campo, and then had two beautiful children before moving to the Capital Federal. When they're together, I feel like they are two kids that share this huge secret that everyone wants to know about but no one can. Their creativity lights the fire, and their shared history leaves them inseparable. They opened their arms, their lives, and their hearts to me, especially Fredy. I'm sad I had to leave, but I'm so glad I was a part of that treasure, locked in time.

check out his photography blog:
check out his personal photography:

A Different World

Recoleta cemetery: most popularly known as the resting place of Evita Peron. Wandering there one frost-bitten morning, I was expecting a grassy cemetery with larger, more gaudy tombstones than what I was used to. Completely blown away when I arrived, I lost myself in the maze of coffins and cats creeping in the shadows. I didn't really comprehend the extent of the grandiose city until one day, when I was searching for a hostel for future visitors, this was my view from the hostel's top floor. Can you imagine waking up to this every morning? I knocked on the hostel door, not even cognizant of my location with respect to the mini-world, climbed five flights of stairs, and stumbled upon... Unreal.

Perrito Ladrónito

What a dog. "Ladrón de mi cerebro" literally translates to, robber of my mind.

Thanks to someone who read this and commented, I learned that "Ladrón de mi cerebro" is a song by a very popular Argentinean rock band called 'Patricio Rey y Sus Redonditos de Ricota.'

Capilla de Monte, Córdoba, Argentina.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Outside to Inside

If you step outside the carefully drawn tourist boundary in La Boca, you’re recognized as foreigner no matter how much you think you blend in with the background. I chose to be conspicuous and went wandering through the off streets. I passed a man working at the local market twice, and the second time he gave me the Argentine hand signal for ‘ojo’ (pulling down the skin under one eye with the index finger), meaning watch out. A woman passing by simultaneously turned to me, confirmed that I wasn’t from Boca in any way, and warned me to turn around. The neighborhood is addicting though because you sense it’s the roots where Buenos Aires was born. At least, I think so. There are extreme amounts of poverty in Argentina, around 40% live beneath the poverty line, and La Boca only begins to reveal the truth about a majority of this country. Without much, the neighborhood becomes their playground and theirs alone; with every step, I found an image behind my lens that said something so much deeper than its two-dimensional form. This girl intrigued me. Forlorn yet independent, she walked down the path. Her body language was one of a woman’s intimate with loss. Where was she going? What was she feeling? To what distant corners of her imagination was her mind taking her?

These people are proud of their culture, their lives, their barrio that has so little yet so much. They wait patiently behind the twinkling tourist zones either waiting to reclaim what’s theirs or content knowing what they have is so much more timeless than a over-priced picture with an overly done-up tango couple.

From the streets, I wandered over to Fundación Proa. Unbeknownst to me, it was opening night of a new art exhibit, “El Tiempo del Arte.” That means that all wealthy patrons with all their glitz & glam came to play. The contrast from where I just came from was staggering. Music played and the artsy citizens perused the book collections while sipping wine and snacking on cheese and crackers, waiting for the exhibit to officially open. I felt dizzy while trying to reconcile the two worlds. I sat next to Carlos: a comfortable companion and a solid Spanish practice session. He told me a little about his life before we went on our way. The exhibit explored the transformations of love/hate, power/daily life, life/death, and mind/body through five centuries of art. The result was powerful.

This piece burned this image onto my brain, done by León Ferrari in 1965. Ferrari is a contemporary conceptual Argentine artist. His art often deals with the subject of power and religion. This piece in particular, called "La civilización occidental y cristiana" (“Western-Christian Civilization”), blatantly comments on issues of United States influence and protests against the Vietnam War. Forced into exile from 1976 to 1991 because of the military dictatorships, Ferrari’s art speaks a truth that others cower from and sends a message that is equally if not more applicable today.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Love Spectrum

Argentines are loving. Although private in ways that their pride demands, the majority are openly affectionate and curious. I was soaking up the Spring Sun in Recoleta when I noticed these two love pairs doing the same. The daughter and mother played tag on the grass before settling down for some maternal hugging. The lone porteño watched until the light of his life arrived and whisked away his attention. Every person loves to be completely adored in public here, and no one else pays any mind. With a kiss to say hello & goodbye, Argentines know how to connect with each other and embrace affection. How liberating.. is it surprising the people here are so friendly? Both sides were one of many in the park that day, and both did not want to be anywhere else but in the arms of their loves.