From January 2006 I am spending 9 months working on a voluntary art project for the Artcorps in Guatemala. I am working for Fundación Riecken, an NGO who are constructing libraries in Honduras and Guatemala. I will be artist-in-residence at libraries in Chiché and Zacualpa, in the Quiché region of Guatemala. I also plan to do a little travelling along the way...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Buenos Aires life

I have finally reached my final destination and am smoothly establishing myself into the rythmn of Buenos Aires life. This city has been beckoning me for years. For so long have I created images in my mind of how it looks and feels to be here and I am not disappointed. Granted, it is a sizeable city which feels slightly suffocating after spending three months communing with mother nature. Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, was a delightfully manageable stepping stone between these two worlds. Buenos Aires is a beautiful, captivating city nonetheless and certainly deserves its reputation as a Europeanesque oasis afloat in the vast continent of South America, with its eclectic mix of latin and indigenous cultures. To be here feels like going back in time. It reminds me of the “old-time Spain” feeling which exudes Chilean cities such as Valparaíso and Santiago. The ubiquitous crooning of 30s tango singers accentuates this old-world feeling as does stepping into a real porteño (hailing from Buenos Aires) milonga, where the dance floor brims with older couples, all impeccably attired for the occasion.

The legacy of an immigrant population composed 50% of Italian descent has imbued Buenos Aires with many distinctly Italian flavours, notably the gastronomy (this is ice cream heaven!) and communication, both in terms of spoken lingo and gesticulations as only the Italians know how. It´s a constant source of fascination to see so many Italian attributes being manifested Argentine style. The porteño dialect is peppered with Italian words, most obviously with Lunfardo, a wonderful “language” born out of the emerging tango culture with words composed of reversed syllables like a secret code invented by children to prevent others´comprehension, which was apparently necessary in the face of disapproving authorities of the time.

I have been donning my dance shoes and attending milongas where the performances have to be seen to be believed! With all the distractions of an excellent salsa scene and a multitude of friends to catch up with, I have not managed to become quite the accomplished tango dancer I attain to be…yet, but I ´m on the way!

I have managed to assimilate the porteño schedule into my daily life, which involves lunching during the afternoon, dining at midnight and dancing until the early morning, every day. So I calculate I should not have any problems with jet lag as I am used to staying up all night anyway.

With all these references, you may have gathered that the end of my latin odyssey is nigh. I must admit that after such a long stay away, the thought of returning to British soil both thrills and apalls me, pending the inevitable culture shock, of course. After an absence of 16 months, I can hardly believe that my journey is about to end, however I treasure the thought of joining and sharing with so many familiar faces once again. I have had such a wealth of experiences, seen such sights, met so many amazing people over the past 16 months, it is hard to take it all in and much harder to summarise! If you´ve been reading my blog (or emails), you will have been living it with me…well now I´m ready to come home and start a new adventure in my own land.

Hasta muy pronto, chicos, and stay posted for news of a timely reunion in London…