Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Back to normal?

August 9, 2021

The moment I opened my eyes this morning I began reflecting on my wonderful weekend agenda that included two symphony concerts and several hours walking in the forest of Palermo Park.  The three days included what were once my regular activities.  I was so happy being in the moment.

I was so excited about the Friday concert in Teatro Colon by the Orquesta Filarmonica that I had to tell my neighbor Carlos about it when I met him at the corner.  He and his wife Cathy love attending concerts as much as I do.  I told him that the program was all French composers — Faure, Ravel, and Bizet.  Tickets were not necessary to see this live concert.   It was live streamed on YouTube.  When the final work on the program began, I was delighted to see a young oboist who I’ve gotten to know over the past few years.  Paula was finally on camera, so I took this screen shot of her.  She is living my dream.  I enjoy attending concerts, but watching online is the best way to see the soloists.

When I saw the forecast for Saturday was 69F and sunny, I immediately decided that my priority for the day would be a walk in the park and forest in Palermo, my favorite place to commune with nature.  The bus had to take a detour to avoid the protest demonstrators walking along Avenida Rivadavia.  Traffic was at a standstill, so I got off the bus and walked past the marchers to the subway station.  I took the train to the end of the line and started walking in the direction of Palermo.  It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a long walk.  People came out to enjoy the day after being used to staying indoors for many months.  It was a like a spring day in the middle of winter.  All I could do was thank Pachamama (Mother Earth).

After more than an hour, I finally arrived at the park where I used to walk every Saturday on this path with joggers, bicyclists, and walkers.

I didn’t stop walking until I arrived in my favorite part of the forest that is lined with Tipa trees.  In a few months the trees will be full of yellow blooms that grace this path.  I walked all afternoon in the park and forest, enjoying all the beauty that Pachamama provided.  The tree is full bloom attracted lots of bumble bees.

On my agenda for Sunday was another concert at Teatro Colon, this time with the Orquesta Estable de Teatro Colon with an all Beethoven concert including a violin concierto performed by the concert master and the 4th symphony.  The excellent camera work provides a close up of all the musicians during the performance.  It was truly amazing. I never tire of Beethoven.  I enjoyed every minute of the 90 minute concert.  I had a front row seat at home in front of my notebook.  It was a perfect way to end the weekend with music that feeds the soul and spirit.  Culture is alive and well in Buenos Aires.

Hug deficiency

August 9, 2021

A man living in the neighborhood would come to visit a friend who lives in my building.  They had conversations at the window of the apartment rather than inside.

The man and I started having conversations.  Sometimes we passed one another on the street while he walked his dog or was riding his bicycle.  I eventually learned that he lives only two blocks up the same street.

One day when we met on a corner, and I asked him for a hug.  I hadn’t had a hug in a very long time, and I desperately needed one for my hug deficiency.”  Julio obliged with what can only be described as a bear hug.  He lifted me at least a foot off the ground.  My response was a loud squeal.  I knew what to expect in the subsequent hugs I received from Julio.  They were powerful and caused me to laugh.  They didn’t cure my hug deficiency.

Jorge turned 90 on July 8th, and I stopped by his apartment one day to see him.  I jumped with joy when I saw him walking to the door with his daughter Silvia.  I danced with Jorge during the first few months of living in Buenos Aires.  We danced at Viejo Correo in Caballito.  After a few minutes of conversation, Jorge extended his arms to me.  I entered his embrace.  What I felt that moment in his arms was what I remember when we danced.  The feeling of tenderness, compassion, and love was overwhelming.  I cried. His embrace was a gift.  It was the hug I needed from a man who I have known for many years.  I will never forget it.

My hug deficiency was cured that day.  My body remembers the feeling.

WordPress believes it has improved its technology, but I disagree

May 14, 2021

Writing a post on Tango Chamuyo used to be simple and enjoyable. What used to be simple is now impossible. The techies at WP, with all their new ideas and innovations, don’t know how seniors like things to stay the same. “If it works, don’t fix it.”

I want to let my readers know that when I have some important news to share with you about the milongas and milongueros in Buenos Aires, I will use Facebook. This is all I can tolerate of this new writing format that has driven me crazy in only a few minutes!!!!

When he takes me in his arms, my body melts

October 11, 2020

I started reading a favorite book for the second time. The sentence above is from Henry and June by Anaïs Nin. It grabbed my attention when I read those words because they resonated in my body. Nin wrote those words in her diary of 1931, and I knew exactly what she meant when I read them. I was familiar with the feeling, because of the milongueros viejos.

I described it as melting when I danced with Alito in Regin during my November 1998 visit. I wrote about the profound experience in my travel diary.

Words can’t describe the feeling. You never know who will induce a melting experience while dancing tango. It’s as difficult as predicting the weather. You never anticipate it. It just happens, and you bask in the pleasure of it. If you are listening to the mental chatter in your head, you will never melt in his arms. Melting requires being in the moment.

I am grateful that my first melting experience came with my dear Alito. It confirmed that tango is not just another social dance. It is a feeling that is danced.

Seeing a friend during the quarantine

July 12, 2020

We were walking in different directions at the same corner when I saw my old friend Joe Petrisko crossing the street.  I called his name and got his attention.  We chatted at a social distance for fifteen minutes or more.  It’s been five months since we talked over tea for hours at Cafe de los Angelitos.

Joe attended the first tango festival I organized in 1995, and also attended the second one in 1996.  I needed a new business partner for 1997, and Joe accepted. The venue was arranged at the University of Maryland at College Park, in the area where he lived.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take place.

One day I said to Joe, why don’t you move to Buenos Aires?  There’s nothing keeping you in Maryland.  Eventually, he came down for another visit when I took him house-hunting.  He found a house he liked that day and moved in a few months later.  That was 14 years ago.  Everything fell into place for Joe.  He lives six blocks from me.

Both of us agreed that we are glad to be living in Buenos Aires today and not in the USA.

Dia de La Independencia

July 9, 2020

Where is everybody?

March 20, 2020

Yesterday seemed like a normal day.  People were walking, buses had passengers, restaurants had customers, and grocery and health food stores had people lined up at the door to buy food.

Today was so different.

I needed to buy food at the organic fair and decided to walk there. It felt like I was walking in the Twilight Zone.  There were very few people walking on the streets.  Buses were almost empty.   The subte is closed.  All the furniture stores on Belgrano were closed.  Obviously, President Fernandez told everyone to stay home.  Only food shops and pharmacies are open today.  The city is almost a ghost town at midday.

There are important posters along the streets urging citizens how to take care in this pandemic.  I saw one that warned people not to share mate, drinking cups, or utensils.  Sharing mate with the same bombilla is a cultural standard for Argentinians.  I hope they can make the adjustment quickly.

I walked from my apartment to Corrientes and Callao, where I decided it was time to return.  It was a lovely walk on a beautiful sunny day with quiet streets and almost no traffic.  I wasn’t going to find the organic fair at the plaza near Teatro Colon open as usual.  Tomorrow there is another organic fair a block from my apartment where I can buy most of what I need for the week.

 

When I arrived at my block, I immediately thought about my neighbors, the Taylor family who live two doors away.  Albert and his wife Ngozi were born in Nigeria. Their three daughters were born in Buenos Aires.  Albert drives a taxi which is their only source of income.   I didn’t see one taxi on the streets today, so that means Albert has no work to provide for his family.  The girls are studying at home this week since all schools are closed.  I haven’t seen them for a week and miss them all.  The girls started in the school orchestra program two years ago and practice in my apartment.  For the meantime, even our daily walks are suspended.

Felicitas plays the cello, and Emanuela plays the violin. This is the music studio for their practice sessions.  I turned the living room into a yoga studio for them.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

February 3, 2019

Today marks my 20th anniversary in Buenos Aires.  I want to share some of the reasons why I’m so happy in this great city.

Blue skies and sun during the summer and the winter!

Great weather all year around.  I have no complaints.  My hometown Chicago was hit this week by the polar vortex and registered cold like the south pole.  I feel sorry for family members, while I enjoy summer in Buenos Aires.  Even when it’s colder during the winter months of July and August, we don’t get freezing temperatures in the Paris of South America.

Citizenship.  It’s relatively simple for a retired person with social security benefits to get citizenship through the court.  You can do it yourself or hire a lawyer to handle the process which takes about a year.  I have dual citizenship since 2013 and two passports.  I have the right and the obligation to vote in all the elections.

Bilingual culture.  English is taking over the world.  I’m glad I studied Spanish for two years in high school or I’d be lost.  Knowing the local language facilitates making a connection with people.  Without it, I’d be at a loss for words, literally.  I meet people all the time who studied and speak English.  Store windows have signs in English, and restaurant menus are bilingual.

Social Security is enough to live on.  I started receiving monthly retirement benefits at age 62.  I own an apartment that I bought in 2005 with money from my mother’s estate.  I can live comfortably on my small retirement income and have savings, but I don’t know how I would manage if I still lived in Chicago.

Public transportation.  Buses and the subway are the most efficient means for getting around the city.  The highest fare based on distance is 17.50AR — about 50 cents.  We have electronic cards to pay the fares, and most lines are air-conditioned.  Buses run 24 hours a day, and the subways have extended hours on the weekends.  You don’t need a car in the city.  The downtown is pedestrian friendly.

Tango is everywhere in the city.  The dance and music brought me to Buenos Aires.  The milongueros viejos are the reason tango is unique in the city where it was born.  I learned what tango means to them, and they taught me how to feel and love tango.

Teatro Colon

The National Symphony Orchestra – Centro Cultural Kirchner

The Chamber Orchestra of the Nation in the National Congress

Philharmonic of Buenos Aires in Usina del Arte

Cultural life.  This is a city that values the arts and makes them available to all.  I attend free concerts at several venues.  It’s like having a subscription to four orchestras, except that all the tickets are free.  There are weeks I attend as many as six concerts and a concert lecture.  My years of instrumental music study helped me appreciate the cultural life I have in Buenos Aires.

Community involvement.  I attend neighborhood meetings every three months  hosted by the mayor and his staff when residents express their concerns and make suggestions.  Participation keeps me informed about our neighborhood.  The police commissioners hold monthly meetings at the police stations to stay informed and handle problems.  In my opinion, this is a city that works on improving all the time, and I like being involved.

Neighbors.  Having lived in the same apartment for 17 years, I have gotten to know many neighbors by name when we meet on the street and talk.  It makes me feel I’m a part of the community, like the one in the 1950s and 60s in Chicago when we knew all the families on the block.  Life is fast-paced today with technology, but I don’t feel anonymous here.  The owners of the health food shop greet me by name and know my purchase preferences.  I returned to the local pasta shop this week after a year, and the new owner, who met me only once, remembered I’m from Chicago. This happens regularly for me in Buenos Aires, and I love it.

House sales and resale shops.  These were my shopping destinations when I lived in the USA.  I’ve been a regular at the weekend house sales and resale shops in Buenos Aires since I heard they existed here.  I furnished my apartment going to house sales, and all my clothes and shoes are second-hand.  I give what I no longer wear to a church-sponsored feria americana.  I recycle everything.

Organic fairs.  When I finally learned that eating organic is important for my health, it wasn’t easy finding markets that sell it.  Fortunately, the city organizes organic fairs on the weekends in the parks.  I go on Friday or Saturday to buy fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, and beans.

Friends.  I am grateful for my friendship with these three women–Marilyn, Ines, and Romaine.  Concerts are our common interest, so we enjoy music together.  It’s always a special time for me being with them.

What would you miss most if you left Argentina?

May 9, 2018

That question was the title of a thread on BAexpats.org by a man from the UK.  Many reasons quickly popped into my head that resulted in my post:

I’d miss being greeted on the street by the neighbors
I’d miss being greeted by name at stores
I’d miss the blue sky and lovely warm days
I’d miss walking this beautiful city
I’d miss all the incredible free concerts the city offers in dozens of venues all year-long
I’d miss walking at the ecological reserve and Palermo park
I’d miss tango dancing with lifelong milongueros
I’d miss the magnificent architecture of the city
I’d miss connecting with friendly portenos in daily life
I’d miss all the hug and kisses I receive and give to friends and acquaintances in this grand city

I will never leave Argentina.

Then today I noticed that someone quoted and liked my post.  That person wrote the following:

I love your posts and your passion for this city. This forum is often used as an outlet for people to express their frustration with living in Argentina as an expat, which I completely understand, but your posts serve as a constant reminder of all the reasons to come in the first place, and reasons to continue living in Buenos Aires. Your free concerts thread is one of the best things on the forum!

I will admit that it touched me and caused immediate sniffling.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

April 22, 2018

I remember being excused early from school when I was in third grade with a few other students so we could go downtown to attend the Chicago Symphony Youth concerts at Orchestra Hall.  That was my first subscription to the symphony.  We sat at the very top of the hall in the gallery, looking straight down at the orchestra on stage.  Years later in my 20s, I had a subscription to the evening concerts.

I’ve attended concerts throughout my life, but never have I attended several each week as I do in Buenos Aires.  There are three symphonic orchestras in Buenos Aires: Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional, Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, and Orquesta Estable del Teatro Colon.  All three offer free concerts in addition to the subscription concerts by the OFBA and OETC.

The first free concert of the season by the Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires was Friday night in Usina del Arte in La Boca.  I went to the Teatro Colon box office on Thursday morning for two free tickets.  Mi Primera Sinfonia (My First Symphony) is a series of six concerts.  The conductor explained those concerts will feature the first symphonies which aren’t performed as often as their later works.  Dvorak’s first symphony has glaring composition errors written when he was 24.  First symphonies programmed are Beethoven (May 11), Nielsen (May 24), Sibelius (Sept 24), Prokofiev (Oct 26), and Max Bruch (Nov 10).

I enjoy retirement with so many free concerts throughout the year in Buenos Aires.  It’s a concertgoers’ paradise.