Archive | 13:34

And then, everyone leaves  . . .

15 Sep

 

On Tuesday, after all the poetry and talk was done, we were taken to see a Uruguayan folk dance group of superior talents: in the second half of the show the men produced these steel balls called boleadoras (I forget how, if at all, they relate to any aspect of cattle husbandry) and whizzed them around their heads on ropes. Truly impressive. Then we had a group photograph – in fact I took a ‘groupie’ – as it should, or may, be called –  in which I do not appear, though I attach another taken earlier in the day outside our favourite San José restaurant, the self-explanatory roti-parilla: in the foreground, in black, our hostess or maître d’ – Maria.

 

faves roti

Next morning, back in Buenos Aires, the world is too loud and large objects move around quickly, dangerously. Crossing the road from the ferry terminal with two suitcases in order to track down a taxi demands a certain degree of skill and agility. The distilled lethargy of small town Uruguay now resembles the leftover dross of a dream from which you have recently awaken and cannot quite piece together: the dream’s debris holds you back in this Brave New World. We take a taxi to Palermo and I check into the same hotel I stayed in on first arriving in Buenos Aires 10 days ago, and again four days ago, after the trip to Chile. It’s becoming a habit, and I’m beginning to feel at home in these streets what with all the recent yo-yoing and after five visits in as many years. The staff at the hotel greet me as though I were a regular, and I suppose I am, albeit accidentally. Despite my work as a writer and translator of poetry from Spanish, there is little real sense of contrivance or intention in my returning trips to Buenos Aires and other Latin American cities: it is more as if I were fulfilling a destiny that was decided for me when, in my teens, I bought a big map of South America and stuck it on the wall of my bedroom, which now seems like a determining moment.

People asked me about that map back then, and I was never really clear about why I had chosen to put it on the wall. It felt like a challenge to myself of sorts; a possibility that might be made to happen when the time was right, and it was able to turn itself into a plan. I had no idea it would take so long. And then, around ten years ago, I start thinking about Latin America in a new way, less linked to the past and influenced by my reading and by some serendipitous meetings with Latin American writers, who subsequently become friends, and some of whom I would translate. And I’m tempted to say that I knew this would happen, but that would be an exaggeration, of course. However, if I consider the archaeology of the thing, and work backwards from the present, is it really all that strange to think that my placing of that map on the wall acted as the trigger to where I am now, in relation to my work and most of my friendships?

Below are a few photos, in no particular sequence or order of importance:

 

faves w Andy Marina and Jorge at Goethe Institut

Left to right: Andy Ehrenhaus, Blanco, Marina Serrano, Jorge Fondebrider; Goethe Institut, Buenos Aires

faves blanco with blanco

Blanco perplexed before an image of the alleged Richard Gwyn, Catedra Bolaño, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago

faves fab four w carlos as benny from crossorads circa 1976

The Fab Four, from left: Jorge Aulicino, Carlos López Beltrán (whose expression and headwear bring to mind the character Benny from Crossroads, circa 1976), Pedro Serrano, Andy Ehrenhaus.

Escritores, traductores

Pedro and Blanco, Santiago

faves vero blanco and Auli

Vero, Blanco and Auli discuss the benefits of smoking

faves reading at San Jose with Marina and Laura

Reading at San José with Andy Ehrenhaus, Marina Serrano & Laura Wittner . . .

faves random dog

Random Dog, San José

faves don quixote

Random Quixote, San José

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

faves boneless pig

faves last morning

Farewell breakfast, with Pedro, Jorge and Carlos.