Day Two – Room With a View

The sun is coming through the window that faces west, but I am looking through the south facing window. Looking past the trees right outside the office, past the ugly apartment buildings built in the seventies, and past ugly new condos built last year. Looking south, I look past the Dominican Republic where I first learned how to surf, past Brazil where everything about it both true and false, to Buenos Airies. To the first real experience outside my comfortable little world. To Argentina where I once chased snow in the middle of a North American summer. That was ten years ago.

I think of the chaos that is this South American wonder. Amazed how on any sidewalk you are convinced you will get killed by bus driving too close to the too narrow sidewalk. How everyone quickly, but smoothly, puts their back against the wall when these city buses drive by at speeds that would be considered illegal here, never mind safe. Like a choreography that is learned from the time little ones learn to walk. A necessary urban dance that is performed by young and old, and everyone in between, every ten minutes. Then continue on their immediate journey.

Where stop signs and red lights are considered mild suggestions at best, only to be obeyed if an elderly lady over the age of sixty and walking with a cane is already on the cross walk. How she got there is incomprehensible, since no one actually stopped their car. She just started crossing and cars were simply moving, then not moving. And she crosses the street at her own pace. When she has crossed to the other side, the chaos continues again.

Then my gaze shifts past the center of town to the San Telmo antique market. Where the eccentric life of the city gathers on Sundays. A couple of buskers tango dancing at one end. A middle aged couple who have been weathered by the years, move gracefully to the bandoneon being played beside them. With more poise than the most well trained British aristocrat.

At the other end, the street vendors hawking their tacky wares. From antique pictures of people you have never met, but remind you anyway of a time when the city was at its height. The ubiquitous maté gourds, which have different prices depending if you are a guy or a girl.

Lining the outskirts of the market are tiny cafés, which all seem to have the same menu. The best coffee ever made, cheap beer sipped over the course of two hours, and a healthy dose political debate. The younger generation complaining about the current economy. And the older generation reliving past revolutions, while still plotting new ones.

Then the tango music fades, the smog filled city clears away, and the noise of a thousand poorly tuned buses slowly leaves my head. I snap out of the little haze I created for my self, and hope no one noticed I was daydreaming for what seemed like an hour. I look at the clock and realize it has only been about forty five seconds. And for another brief moment while I gather my thoughts for the upcoming task, I quickly drift back to the hustle and bustle of the South American wonder, and say to myself One day, I’ll go again.

San Telmo tango

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2 comments

  1. Cami · September 16, 2014

    The photo goes so well with what you’ve written. I felt like I was there with you. Loved this!

    • Mike D · September 16, 2014

      Thank you.

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