Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mornings with the Equipo San Luis

Saludos Boludos

So I was scraping the burnt off my toast this morning in a cheerful mood. Despite the rain and despite the fact that I had blackened one side of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I was content because all three of us that make up el equipo San Luis were awake and breakfasting together. A rare occasion indeed, because here is the usual run down:

Mariano or I wake up first, stagger to the kitchen where we put the kettle on and fumble around in the cabinets and fridge looking for breakfast. Whoever wakes up second wakes up and staggers out of his room. Buen día, chavon, says the first-to-wake in his low morning voice. Buen día says the second-to-wake in his even lower closer-to-bed voice. We touch cheeks in the compulsory morning kiss as the second-to-wake makes his way to the bathroom; then makes his way to the table where the first-to-wake offers him mate (mah-tay see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mate_%28beverage%29). After a couple mates all is right in the morning and we start chatting while reading the news.

We talk politics, we talk philosophy, we talk love. We talk about what we are doing that day and some times we lovingly make fun of Pablo who almost certainly is still sleeping, regardless of the fact that the alarm on his cellphone has been sounding for half an hour. I like my morning talks with Mariano. They are my favorite way to start the day. If I wake up and he has already breakfasted, I feel lonely drinking the mate by myself.
Eventually Pablo, sleeping in whichever-which way entangled in sheets, clothes and blankets, drags himself out of bed (or some more humorous mornings slides out of bed with a hard thump on the floor) and opens his bedroom door. Mariano and I are lighthearted and bright eyed already and we both say good morning, to which we may or may not get a response as Pablo makes his way to the bathroom. Prior to leaving for work Pablo will shower for half an hour, during which almost certainly Mariano or I will comment on the fact that Pablo showers for half an hour.

And off I go to the gym. Off Mariano goes to rehearsal. Off Pablo goes to work.

But not today. Today was special because we all woke up together. Those are my favorite mornings because I like it when the equipo San Luis is together, just the three of us. Today we talked mostly about Haiti and the international criticism of US military imperialist actions in the country. I often critique Argentines’ analysis of US politics and foreign relations as being boiled down and overly simplified; but I have to admit that they usually have the broad brush strokes of facts that are wholly ignored in the US media. For example the sheer magnitude of the US military presence is hardly mentioned in US coverage of the ‘aid’ operations but it rarely goes unmentioned in South America. For example the secured loans (last I saw it was around 2.1 billion US dollars) that the US has secured from international lenders is often reported in the NY Times, but in Argentine papers they also wonder about the structural readjustment package that is sure to accompany such loans. (Just about every Argentine knows what a structural readjustment package is. They have had way too much experience. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Consensus#Argentina). While the NY Times and Washington Post publish editorials on why sweatshops are what Haiti needs rights now (as opposed to sustainable and localized economic development), Argentines will reference the preexisting free trade zones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade_zone) in El Salvador, Thailand and Mexico; and after a quick analysis of their effects will abandon the notion that sweatshops are really what Haiti needs (because to say that Haiti needs sweatshops is really to say that we need to buy 10-dollar disney t-shirts in Wallmart or pay 150 bucks for Nike sneakers that cost 5 dollars to produce).

Ok Ok I’ll stop. Anyways, it was a good morning.

love and besos


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sumate a Couchsurfing

This week my first Couch Surfers arrived.

About Couch Surfers:
Couchsurfing.com is a social networking website used by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world in order to connect with like-minded travelers. Usually young people (but there are folks of all ages) who like to travel without strict itineraries and on a dime create personal profiles in order to meet other travelers (many in the backpacking subculture use couchsurfing). The ultimate goal is to have a free place to stay when you travel and to offer a free place to stay to travelers (although many users are just on the site to have coffee or to organize parties and social events). It is a great way to challenge the market-oriented condition of capitalist travel, and a great way to meet locals outside of a bar/club. You can get out my profile here: http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html

I had used couhsurfing while traveling in Brazil, and in my house there are usually people sleeping transitorily in some way, shape or form in a bed, couch or corner. But I had never had any travelers who contacted me through the website stay at my house.

Basti and Michael are our first surfers. Basti and Michael are two German students from Berlin who are taking a semester off to travel for six months in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. They have a key to our house and come and go as they please (they would need to because neither my roommates nor I know where will be at any given time of day or night). As a welcome to Buenos Aires, while they were toasting in the open air of Plaza Serrano with a few cervezas, a thief on a motorcycle sped by and grabbed their backpacked. Off he sped with their digital camera and video camera while an entire plaza of witnesses watched. Ironically hours before leaving my house they asked me if it was safe to walk around with their backpacks. I told them yes of course, nobody is gonna mess with you as long as you keep it close to your body. When they told me what happened I responded, ahhh sí, bueno a veces pasa eso. Pablo responded, y sí, les iba a pasar eventualmente. mejor ahora para que se relajen por las próximas seis meses. Hey, es lo que hay, right?

I think we are going to continue hosting couch surfers in the future, although we might more strictly enforce a Spanish speaking rule so everyone in the house can communicate and so we can invite them out without feeling as if we need to watch out for them.

Not on couchsurfing? SUMATE YA

besos and amor de Argentina

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

South Western Dinner Party

Saludos Boludos

Impromptu dinner party last night.

Vegetarian chili, homemade cornbread (no mixes in argentina!), and rice with fresh avocado and lemon dressing.

Lucas, a friend from Sao Paulo who came to Buenos Aires and stayed with me while working on a documentary about the rural landless citizen movement in Paraguay. In a nutshell: during the neoliberalization of Paraguay, the government sold a bunch of land to extremely wealthy foreigners, most of them owners of farming corporations (similar to the HUGE corporations we have in the US that have destroyed the concept of the “family farm”). Much of that land was occupied by poor farmers who had collectively farmed for generations and all of a sudden were displaced. They organized. In a throw-the-dog-a-bone type move the Paraguayan government gave them some extremely rural (basically inaccessible) land in the center of the country and surprisingly it turned out to be an example of local sustainable development (maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising). He and his partners are in post-production now and I can’t wait to see the documentary finished.
Luis, my very good friend with whom I lived for a couple of months while I was in between my old apartment and current house. He supplied the avocado, fresh from his dad’s garden in the country. Yum. Many folks kinda tilt their head in surprise when they find out we are such good friends. He doesn’t share my love for radical politics nor my interest in feminist studies (quite the opposite actually). We are indeed the odd couple, but Luis has a big heart and he is a great friend.
Mariano, my actor/opera signer roommate who is starting to give voice lessons at home. His new play premiers this friday and is a collection of Shakespeare's love sonnets. Before moving to Buenos Aires to peruse acting, Mariano was studying sport sciences in Mar del Plata (about 5 hours south of Buenos Aires along the Eastern coast), which means he also doubles as my work-out adviser.
Three friends of Mariano, Mina, Andrés, and Carolina also joined us. They are the first test subjects of Mariano’s voice lessons. Like minded folks, we all get along great. Andrés and Carolina are both psychologists who work in hospitals and are beginning to offer group dynamics consultations to private companies and corporations, ‘para sacar plata a los que tengan’ says Andrés.

Dinner conversation was varied and dynamic ranging from the social history of the menu items social history of the argentina military regime (kinda a standard at any dinner party in Buenos Aires). But this time it was a bit more interesting because Andrés was sharing a story that shed light on the generational difference between those who grew up knowing only democracy and those of older generations who grew up under Perón, lived through the military dictatorship and witness the transition to democracy. I liked the story because while Argenintes, even and sometimes especially young Argentines, are often aggressively passionate while talking about the military dictatorship (something that I obviously cannot relate too), but Andrés made a rare confession--neither can he. It left unanswered a lot of questions about what it means for young democracies when the population ages and new generations no longer have the lived experience and knowledge about what it means to live under repressive governments (yes I know I know, anarchists and libertarians, we all live under repressive governments but it’s not the place or time for that OK?).
Pablo, my other roommate had a crisis at the office and was stuck working until about 11 pm (which was about the hour that we scraped the chili pot clean, unfortunately for him). Pablo works at the Ministry of Education in the department that handles all of the government subsidies and scholarships to public schools in the country. Full of good stories he is.

Ok this was a new style of blogging with me. Not that I have ever been all that consistent. But I’ll continue to experiment and hopefully will find a groove that allows me to write entries that don’t consume hours of my time yet are still interesting to the ten of you that read this. haha!

much love and many besos