Thursday, December 10, 2009

My final few days in B.A.

So I wrapped up my final time down in lovely Buenos Aires by going out with a few friends, making a few more, and enjoying the nightlife. The Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival 2009 conveniently occurred from the 3rd through the 8th of December, giving me the opportunity to indulge in Argentine and internationally known jazz artists of all sorts.
     I relocated hostel areas, moving back to where I first started out in the city - Palermo Hollywood. I went back to the same hostel, Casa Mi Bulin, where the nice owner Maria offered me a place to stay that weekend. This was after calling tons of places, since I guess AC/DC decided to play that same weekend, filling all hostels with locals and foreigners of all types. I forgot how nice it is to have your own key to the place, coming and going with total free will. Also, I ran into the same British guy, Alex, who had been staying in that hostel since I had met him 5.5 weeks prior. I met his other British friend Leo, a musician and character. So we went to the local market and bought some bife de lomo and another top cut of prime beef, whose name escapes me. It is so cheap to simply cook yourself, as opposed to eating out the whole time. I wish I had cooked far more often than I did, now looking back on it. It only ran 12 pesos for 3 slabs of the same meat that you normally pay 30 pesos for in a restaurant. Following some rice, a tomato, red bell pepper, and some fresh baked bread rolls, we had all that was necessary to keep me happy. I gorged myself, and was not over-full.

     From here, we headed out to the Centro Cultural Recoleta, in Recoleta, which was conveniently near the awesome and famous Recoleta Cemetary, whose site I will visit the next time I'm in Buenos Aires. There were three jazz acts going on, starting at 17:00 and going through till 21:00. The first act was a trio of old people, only which the bassist seemed to dominate. I guess he was also the bass player for Al DiMeola, which is pretty cool. They played good tunes, but I didn't think they were anything spectacular. Especially considering the next band that followed, which was amazing. They are a local band from the city of Cordoba, and they specialized in jazz of the 1920's! This is awesome, since they had ridiculously happy music, with the percussionist going to town on plastic blocks, a splash cymbal, snare drum, and washboard. They had a couple horns, stand up bass player, pianist, and a banjo, making the crowd go nuts. A bunch of people formed a swing dance area, where couples and a few weird singles were showing off their awesome moves. For those of you familiar with the fact I own a novelty ragtime xylophone CD, you could see how I would love the novelty, mass-murderer-happy music that this band divulged unto us. The band proceeding them we skipped, as their were jazz acts happening at several times at different centers and venues throughout the city. Leo and I hopped in a cab across town to San Telmo, to check out a crazy experimental jazz-tango band, with a lot of art dancers swaying with the music. It was more like ambient noise at times, than music, but they obviously saved the best songs for last, since the remaining five or so were incredible and passion-filled. Sometimes I think that experimental music is only for musicians, as it is technically challenging and a kind of "statement" if you will, more so than an audience pleaser. My opinion, anyway.
     Following this band, we were gonna head to some local's place; see, Leo had met a porten~o here, whose apartment he was considering renting out. Anyway, that guy was having a party at said place in San Telmo, so we were already nearby. Next thing was to grab a bite to eat prior to heading there. We wandered the cobblestone streets until we settled on Plaza Dorrego, where several cafes and restaurants lined the corners. We checked out a place called Neferetti, lined with Egyptian art and decorations all over the small, cozy-feeling restaurant. We ordered a ham, cheese, and green olive pizza, and a couple chopp beers (draught in a pint glass), and luckily caught a bossa nova, jazz and blues trio playing several covers and a couple originals. It was nice to fill that Saturday night full of music of all types.
     We walked some 20 blocks more than I anticipated, finally arriving at this guy's house with a gift of wine. He had a bunch of friends from Patagonia staying at his place for the weekend, as they all came here for AC/DC. It was truly interesting hanging out with all these people, as I nursed a glass of Fernet mixed with Coca Cola (very Argentine drink), passing the time away into drunk land. There was a stereo system covering many bands of music, and I soon took over the computer to DJ the playlist a little more. This was either because I wanted to hear more familiar bands, or to please the crowd. Probably a little of both. By 3 o'clock, it was time to hit the hay. The locals were all going to hit a club in Palermo, which I aptly turned down for a bed instead. We taxied our way back to Casa Mi Bulin and crashed for the night.
     Come Sunday, I just hung out at the hostel pretty much all day, since it was raining out and I had nowhere to be. I headed to the concerts again in the Cultural Center, this time traveling solo. Before entering, I perused the local feria that was occurring right next to the place. All the usual crafts, like belts, jewelry, instruments, more leather, clothing, textiles, etc. I bought a t-shirt from one of the stands, since I wanted another medium shirt to add to my limited medium shirt collection back home. After high school, I dropped to the fit weight of 160, therefore dismissing all of my large t-shirts so common to me back then. The problem is now I have tons of large-sized and band logo t-shirts, that I don't yet know what to do with. But again I've gotten off-track. I headed into the Center and caught 20 minutes of an octet, which was pretty good. From here, I headed out to another nearby center for music, called Teatro Sarmiento, right outside the Jardin Zoologico. That act had overfilled the seats, so a group of eager people, including me, had to wait outside in the bitter cold. I don't know where all this cold weather nighttime had come from, as Saturday night was frigid as well. This time I had decked myself out in cold weather gear, so I was faring better than on Saturday. The following act was an experimental quartet, one that I actually disliked but a few songs. Oh well, I had no idea what to expect. From here, I was already only 15 blocks away from my hostel in Palermo, so I decided to stop by a restaurant, stuff my face with empanadas, and then walk around Palermo. I did just that, visiting Plaza Serrano again, where I met Graeme and those two Argentine girls, the very first night I got here. Walking back to my hostel from here made me connect dots as to where I was first dropped off by the taxi from the airport. I feel like I could easily find my way around BsAs, given maybe a month or two more. I reflected on all the good times I had in Palermo that first few days of being here, and lamented on how I'd miss the place dearly.
      Monday, I headed back to Calle Murillo and its Centro del Cuero, to buy that delicious veal jacket.  I wonder what that young calf tasted like prior to donating his skin to me. I shelled out a discounted 400 pesos for it, and went to another shop down the way and got my dad a carpincho belt for wearing. After my large spending, I caught the Subte back to the Microcentro, where I hit up Calle Florida and Calle Lavalle, both pedestrian-only streets that are lined with shops and shopping malls (which are tucked away into hallways that branch off from the main walkways). I got a couple postcards, and managed to literally spend all the money I had withdrawn from the bank that day. I kept the 40 pesos necessary for the shuttle bus to the airport, and 20 for the cab ride to the shuttle location in Retiro. I took an amazing one and a half hours to pack my bags for the airport journey, and followed through with the cab and bus shuttle rides. At the airport, I caught the on-time plane for Miami, crossing again over beautiful Cuba, which I awoke to see, with the dark twilight on the horizon making for some great brain photos. It was a spectacular strip of dark red and black and a darkened spectrum, bordering the Caribbean sea horizon. The flight was 9.5 hours to Miami, and another 5.75 hours from Miami to Los Angeles. Couple this with the 3 hours of waiting, and by the time I reached Los Angeles, I was pretty tired and happy to make it back alive. There was snow on the mountains around Los Angeles, which was pretty unusual, I thought.
     I met up with my dad at the airport, and he informed me of a huge storm that had just raped Southern California only one day prior to me arriving. It dumped snow in L.A., heavy winds throughout the coast, and a record 2.5 inches of rain on San Diego. I guess if I had arrived on Monday instead of Tuesday, there would have been delays of all sorts, that I thankfully didn't have to deal with.
     It truly is good to be home, but a few things hit me hard. First off, it's bloody COLD here, especially because I was bathing in Spring back in Argentina. Second, there is literally nothing going on here, given that it's winter. And third, I realized I don't have a terribly happy bank account right now, so I got to get back to the rigors of job searching, money-making, and figuring out where to move. That is also a challenge, since I don't know what schools will accept me for film yet, so I need to wait until this SPRING to find out what I'm doing next Fall time. Back to the grind.

Will post more on thoughts of Argentina as they arise, maybe how it has affected me in day-to-day living, etc. Also, will keep you all informed of spectacular Oddwood performances and any local traveling worth noting. All for now, more for later! Until then, this is Drew Peters.

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