Sunday, May 22, 2011

South America

Buenos Aires, 2007.
My first trip in South America, summer 2002
South America has been amazing! 8 weeks visiting Peru, Bolivia, Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. This past week I've spent a fantastic few days in Buenos Aires.

I am a bohemian. One of the bohemian singers-songwriters I admire most is from Argentina. His name is Facundo Cabral. I had the chance to go to one of his recitals in Costa Rica while teaching there. I have listened to his music since I was a teenager. Now, guess whom I saw having coffee as I walked down Recoleta ? Yeah !! A friend told me that these kinds of moments happen to me because I have the best karma. LOL When I first saw him I hesitated for a minute to approach him for an autograph. I didn’t want to interrupt his conversation with a friend. But I had to. I went in the café and said: Don Facundo, could I have your autograph? He immediately asked me: Where are you from? I told him: Guatemala, he then he says loudly: Waiter, a coffee for my friend from Guatemala! He pulled a chair and invited me to sit. We chatted for a while. He told me about a Guatemalan girlfriend he had and how much he loves lake Atitlan. It truly was a very special moment. One of Facundo's song says: I'm not from here, I´m not from there, I´m from everywhere. He has so many beautiful songs about life and love and this world we live in. You can see why he is one of my favorite musicians.

As I travel I notice everyone longs for the same things everywhere: making a living, having friendships and love. I've met lots of friendly and cool people in Argentina and South America. Even though our encounter was brief, it was meaningful.

Another of my favorite singer-songwriters is Ricardo Arjona, from Guatemala. He actually sang on the streets of Buenos Aires in his beginnings. As I walked down a pedestrian street called Florida, I heard the tune of one of Arjona’s songs. I got closer and there was a guy singing on the street just like Ricardo Arjona. He really sounded just like him! I spent two hours listening to songs I know by heart. I could close my eyes and it sounded just like Arjona singing on the street. I will never forget going to an Arjona recital on the streets of Buenos Aires.

A couple of days ago I visited the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. I saw paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Frida Khalo and others. Amazing exhibit. I didn’t know Buenos Aires would have a collection such as this. Beautiful arquitecture can be seen on every street.

I love people-watching. Sitting on a bench in Madero, a fancy area where they have restored old warehouses by the port to house shops and restaurants, I observed a clown making balloons for children. I loved watching the kids’ faces as they got their animal balloons. There was a lady selling roses and as they always do, she would approach the guy in every couple walking by. This one girl hit her boyfriend on the head after he said no and kept walking. I laughed so hard! It seems Argentinian girls don’t put up with lack of romanticism, and they show it!! LOL

My South American adventure is slowly drawing to a close. South America is almost waving good bye. The following is part of a poem from a little book I found in a used book store. I share it with you as a good bye from South America...

I´ve been goin a long time now
along the way I´ve learned some things.
You have to make the good times yourself
Take the little times and make them into big times
        and save the times that are all right
for the ones that aren't so good.

Machu Pichu, 2002

Two weeks later in Chile
This email is being sent to many of the new friends I made while travelling this summer. To those friends I met in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, I like to thank you for the special moments we shared. To my friends in Central America, the US, Canada, and several other places in the world, I thank you for sharing this trip with me through my emails.

This week I visited the houses of Pablo Neruda in Chile. If you haven't had the opportunity to read him I encourage you to. While visiting his house in Isla Negra, as I stood watching the ocean from the huge window in his bedroom and saw the table where he wrote many of his poems, I got teary eyed. I took a deep breath and said “Thank you for your poems Pablo.” 

Paine Towers National Park, Chile 2007

With this poem I say bye to South America.

Colors, words, whispers
mountains covered with snow
the sun smiling
smiles, dreams, sights
South America has given me all these
and more
friends, memories, poetry
gratitude in my heart
Thanks South America!
Thanks for making me feel alive
planes, buses, boats, trains
the sound of rivers and waterfalls
the crisp air in my lungs
the beers and meals shared with friends
friends for a day, or two
or forever
two months, eight weeks,
thousands of stars
hundreds of hours
enjoying places and people I'll never forget
this time, this place have reminded me of
the beauty of today
the joy of friendship
the delight of living the moment
I thank God for this adventurous life
and I thank you my friend for sharing it with me 
Iguazu, Argentina 2002

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