Language in the street

We Speak Your Language


Drink with Conscience

Graffiti in Catamarca

Live your life without alcohol


Friendly café

Prices Subject to Change According to Customer’s Attitude

There are many forms of disability, the only dangerous one is to not have a heart

BsAs directs tourists to FaceBook.. a sound investment.


Smelly neighbour

Mestizo also means a person of mixed raced … dodgy ambiguity here..

To plant a tree, to write a book, to have a child, to adopt a mongrel.


Que bueno – this quote covered many walls in Chilecito, it celebrates the community’s recent political success in preventing a new mine opening in the region

Salta is Inca. Never Roman.

Que se vayan todos

This was a “cantito” (little song) that the Argentine people sang during the  protests and riots that took place on 19-20th December 2001 , which ended with the resignation of President De La Rua.

The complete lyrics: Ooooohh, que se vayan todos, que no quede ni uno solo, oooohhh, que se vayan todos … (Send them all to hell, don’t let a single one of them stay, oooh send them all to hell)

NB. “Them” refers to the politicians and the “clase dirigente” (ruling class)

Video of protests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myfM1oAJR34&feature=related

Below: Sign outside cafe in Cachi, Salta.

“Argentina 2011. They return the same. You voted for them.”

Carnes Argentinas Argentine meat

11th September Streets are commonly named after historical dates and military figures in both Chile and Argentina. .09/11 is also the date the US helped military dictator General Augusto Pinochet take control of the country.

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The flighty turn to the earth

Her parents had heard the little elephant footsteps ascending the stairs and with each one had felt a weight lifting, a sensation of relief in the knowledge that their daughter had come home to sleep.

Freed as such from the worries that had subconsciously underlined their afternoon they too fell soundly into bed, neither for a moment pondering where Inés might have been.

It was a parental philsophy of laissez-faire mingled with morals that had prevented them from saying anything that night. Liberal guidance they called it, their love manifesting itself most clearly through their fears – letting their worries direct their discipline. Hence, calmed by Inés’ return before dusk their love remained unmanisfested within them as they closed their eyes to the day.

Inés had unwittingly established her parent’s philosophy. Her gestation had triggered a transformation in them too, and as such they had together passed nine transitional months before, finally, she entered their world in her own little body.

The clear blue line followed by the blurry ultrasound had stimulated in them a search for stability, more than a nest of glittering rubbish they desired, all of a sudden, a sturdy platform from which they would be able to watch their young one learn to fly.

It was an ironic transition, since at the moment of conception it had been they who were flying. Chasing their dreams up imaginary ladders towards glistening rewards, greater freedom and more power. Their lives were leading them towards a more desirable neighbourhood with more square metres to call home.

However, suddenly, with a new life added to their equation it was as if their wings of desire had been clipped and as of this moment all they could wish for, in their new flightless bodies, was to plant their feet in fertile ground.

In nine months this transition had been trodden and they were, as now, sleeping soundly in what their friends called the middle of nowhere when, woken by the silent night that habitually surrounded the house, Florencia went into labour, reconciling herself with every contraction to the life long labour that it promised to deliver. Like a journey without a destination, each contraction contracted her to mothering the little life that was slowly and painfully freeing itself from her womb.

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La pregunta

The first encounter. The ever recurrent question.

¿De dónde sos?

La tierra

¿Qué parte de la tierra?

Ingla-tierra, Londres-tierra

¿Una inglesa?

Mejor Londoniense… una ciudad más que un país… Maybe porque soy una chica, a feminine lugar, un cuerpo feminino.

¿Pero Inglaterra es femenino…?

Pero Pachamama no tiene nacionalidades, la ciudad es dónde mi identidad ha sido creado (has been created), tiene una fuerza más fuerte para mi.

¿Buenos Aires tiene una fuerte fuerza de atracción entonces?

Me parece que sí. A strong force. Me atrapó

¿Cómo la fuerza te trajo?

Es una historía bastante larga.

¿Hay una versión corta?

Siempre.. In brief, no sé, no entiendo. Solamente soy.

A veces algunas de mis decisiones, mis acciones parecen más grandes que otras, comienzan viajes más distinctos, separados…

¿Pero, podés separarte de ti mismo para ver por qué, por dónde vas?

En castellano, sí.

En una lenguaje. Claro. But… ¿cómo sí si tu casa fuese tu cuerpo en vez de tu ciudad? … Este es mi practica ahora… Estoy tratando de sentir mi cuerpo como mi casa, pero mi mente a veces trata de ir a otro lugar, a mi casa familial, a Londres, a mis amigos, allá… a antes.

¿Y … a dónde después…? … ¿A dónde vas?

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El Manantial to El Bohemio Bollocks

It was an invitation that took us back south. In Buenos Aires Anna became Anita, una amiga de un amigo in the old world, and uniting our ties we became friends. A nearly native expat, switching between languages like an actress does roles, still playing the student (dedicated to Latin American literature), she inspired the city and guided me through many of its less evident doors. Entering one such porthole I became acquainted with Mel, a rubia from Wimbledon who had travelled south with her Spaniard, Pablo, an architect de Valencia. After several months of searching, the job market had appeared like a wall standing firmly against them and subsequently life in big city BsAs became unsustainable; so a plan B emerged.

They found a lady who was escaping the Argentine winter, heading back to Bath to look after an elderly mother, hence leaving her cottage in need of some carers. A deal was struck. Mel and Pablo moved in to shiver through a frosty season of leña calefacción, learning the art of patience – cooking on fire, and perfecting the knead for a home-made loaf.

Muy muy rico

As such, Nacho and I arrived to find life settled in the slow lane as Spring was just starting to warm the air in the woods around this fairytale home, where the mountains stood picturesquely still snow-peaked and the river ran still full. We wondered drunk on these rural pleasures whilst Wifi in the wilderness didn’t prevent us from indulging in long late lunches, practising the art of conversation between mouthfuls, criticising cultures, city spending and the race of life – all in Spanglish!

While the water kept running in from el manantial the food began to run dry, and with Argentina playing Spain on the football field we all headed into the Babylon of El Bolson for the 4-0 defeat of the world champions. However, disenchanted with the game I went a wandering, as I’m prone to do, and walked into an exception to the pueblo‘s hippy rule.

In an antique store full of ancient treasures I met Señor Péricles, an Argentine of Greek descent with a surprising passion … for our dear old Maggie Thatcher! A rotund, red-cheeked, grey-haired grandfather, he radiated with neo-liberalism, evangelically. Proud to the bone of his hard working life. Work, work, work… that is what the lazy youth of today aren’t doing, along with the hippies and tax-evaders. All adding up to a failing economy and moral disintegration. We discuss. 45 minutes pass before we symbolically united forces with our mutual appreciation of the beautiful craftsmanship that had created an old British pipe, a pipe with a story – it had been exchanged by a soldier in The Falklands for an Argentine military man’s mate in Las Malvinas. Giving and receiving, exchanging cultures while States fought a war. In the end though, beneath the politics of both islands and towns it seems you can now find all sorts reconciling their differences and making themselves at home.

Posted in On the move. | 3 Comments

Baribourgeois to El BoBolson

So, bringing two trips into parallel now as Bariloche twice led to El Bolson. Neighbouring towns with opposing ideologies. Bariloche the richman’s playground. Ski-ing, chalets and 5* hotels mix reluctantly with classes of rowdy 18-year-olds celebrating the end of their school days.  El Bolson: a hippy experiment, peace and permacultura, vegetarian beef in harmony with the naturaleza.

First time around, following the flor de luna I hired a bicicleta up and down the hills of the circuito chico, down with the highs and up with the lows as a coach full of tourists pulled up to my mirador. Their fresh legs over-took on four wheels while my two rested on a rock and their cameras obscured every angle of the 360· panorama.

Take two: A hostel up 14 storeys high meant a vista to feast on. Steak supper and smoking on the balcony followed by a morning of snow without skis at the peak of Bariloche’s house of god, Cerro Catedral.

Back to round one: Stereotypes became my reality in El Bolson as an elderly hippy nabbed me off the bus and invited me to his organic hostel, a homemade finca. I journeyed there in his battered-out old motor and entered the rickety gate with a smile.

Round two was brief in El Bolson as Nacho sipped chai with Trebol while I filled a shopping trolley with supplies and bought a quarter kilo tub of helado artesanal before taxi-ing it to the wilderness of Chacra El Manantial in Mallín.

The supermarket was a stopping point the first time round too. Outside this spot, sat on a grassy verge, Nacho and I, por casualidad, became reacquainted. Lazing among a crowd of hippy youths (El Bolson happily retaining its image) I got swept up in an evening expedition of International love* to la cascada escondida. Argentinos, chilenos, franceses, guatamaltecos, una holandesa, un alemán, una el salvadoreña, un suizo, una canadiense y yo – an inglesa for the record!*

From the fall night fell and we lost our bearings, finding precipices rather than our way. Eventually, as we stumbled across the dead (walking through the cemetery), we knew that we were alive. Closing in on the civilisation from which we had ventured, retracing our footsteps over a rickety bridge, we each arrived safely back on the other side.

*  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtUT3kgyYl0

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Growing dreams

The words had been spilled over lunch, in fact just after lunch, when all three were sitting full in front of their empty plates.

“Do you want to do the washing up?” Her father had asked pointedly, ever fond of the imperative question.

“I’ve never wanted to do the washing up,” she’d answered flatly, looking him in the eye.

“Tough: that’s life,” he’d said with a grin while his hand directed her eyes towards the sink, “learning to do what you’ve never wanted to do.”

At this she had felt her stomach tightening and her face contract around her skull as her mother added,

“We’ve actually both been thinking that it is time that you started contributing a little more to the household – cooking, cleaning, and maybe a bit of gardening too – start learning to provide for yourself.”

“But I am studying to provide for myself,” she’d exhaled in a single breath, “I’m learning how to provide for myself in the world out there,” she’d shouted, thrusting her arm and erect index finger towards the open door. Then, following her own gesture, she’d stormed straight through it, slamming the door as she left.

It had been a childish reaction. Emotion had overtaken reason, but within those four kitchen walls the words had seemed so unreasonable.

In the calm of the present she tried to translate her reaction logically.

“Whatever they say,” she told herself, “I’m still only a child and it is my parent’s duty to look after me, to help me, to support me while I learn.”

Ines had never really thought about what she was learning or what she was learning for. Books, equations and experiments… to what end?

“Learning to do what you’ve never wanted to do,” her father’s words returned to her followed by her mother’s, “Learn to provide for yourself.”

Then without explanation Ruben’s seeds appeared like children planted in the earth, cared for, watered and pruned while they listened to the seasons, growing ignorant of being loved, doing all that they could do, taking root, reaching for the sky. They learnt life as they went along.

Pushing open the front door Ines felt the weight of the day heavy on her eyelids.  Climbing the stairs to bed she fell seamlessly into her dreams without, even for an instant, imagining what her journey into the fields might have taught her.

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El Regreso

Caminando de regreso a su casa, Inés sintió que las semillas que Rubén había plantado comenzaban a crecer en su mente; como un nuevo mundo, brotaban y florecían en su imaginación.

Nunca antes había abierto realmente los ojos para ver más allá de sí misma, nunca antes había visto la vida que existía a su alrededor.

Su bicicleta daba saltos debajo de su mano mientras recorría el camino, despacio, a un mundo de distancia de aquel remolino de frustraciones con que que había llegado. Ahora se sentía absorbida por las sombras recortadas entre las hojas que se proyectaban debajo de sus pies, los tonos verdes que se reflejaban en su piel y el agradable calor del sol que se ponía detrás de ella, empujándola de vuelta a casa.

La naturaleza había reemplazado a la tormenta en su cabeza.

Perdida en esta nueva forma de mirar, se sorprendió de golpe al levantar la vista del piso y ver su casa tan cerca y desproporcionadamente grande delante de ella. Había crecido increíblemente rápido a comparación de lo que era: un pequeño punto en el horizonte.

Este cambio de escala la sacudió de vuelta hacia los recuerdos, y recordó de qué se había alejado, recordó la frustración y el enojo.

En un instante las palabras de sus padres reeplazaron la naturaleza que había calmado su mente.

—-

Translation by Malen Vazquez

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