Living in Tango Paradise

Who is this guy?

I predict that Leonel Messi will be the first official consecrated and sanctified SAINT OF SOCCER!!  I don’t mean a hundred years from now, I mean, LIKE SOON! Within his and our lifetimes! Because he has a gift straight from that upstairs-place, you know, HEAVEN!!  You heard it here first! 

If you’re addicted to Tango, you’re probably interested in all things Argentine, and no doubt you already know about Leonel Messi, Argentine soccer star. Messi, currently playing for Barcelona, is golden. This kid has already made more goals than just about every soccer player in the history of the sport and, at 24, is likely to top that list before 30. Messi is not just a great player, he’s magical. He moves the ball effortlessly around, under, over and through the other team’s defenders, like Clint Eastwood shooting down 5 outlaws before they even have a chance to draw. He’s famously unpretentious, not a showoff, not a bully, just a super nice guy. Once he has the ball and is closing in on the goal, he’s not a one-man show.  He always kicks the ball to his teammates, setting them up for their own goals, but ready to take over and slide one in, and those poor goalies, they just can’t read him, and are always caught off guard. Some people have a sixth sense, others are just barely managing five, but Messi has a soccer sense! We love watching him play with his favorite toy, a soccer ball.

Uh-oh!  It’s back to that old story for a moment, yes, the ashes from volcano Puyehue, just across the border in Chile. Before we left Patagonia we took a day to drive the 7 Lakes Circuit, starting in Bariloche heading northwest. And we did drive part of it, but due to the volume of ash in the air, not to mention the bumpy dusty gravel roads, we only drove through Villa Traful, so shrouded in ash you could barely see the lake, and on to Villa Angosturas, the epicenter of volcanic fallout. Villa Angosturas is still struggling to clean up. They hauled away several feet of ash, but it’s hard to finish the job when the volcano burps and spits out another ash plume every few weeks. Tourists, the area’s main cash crop, are still visiting the lakes but their numbers are way down from previous years. In the above photo you can see for yourself. Ashy landscape en route to Villa Traful: visibility almost nil!

Hotel Llao Llao with volcanic plume

In this photo Hotel Llao Llao is to the far left on a hill. Looking across Lake Nahuel Huapi you can see a giant plume of ash. It looks like fog, but it’s not! We watched this particular plume move in our direction for about 24 hours before it enveloped us. The following day it moved on, the sky cleared, and just a trace of ash remained.

Patagonian ducks at Lago Moreno

Wild ducks were still playing house on the lakeshore, and we  took a nice walk through the Arrayanes forest to the lake pictured above. The sky was clear!

Ben in the Bosque Arrayanes

The tall guy was playing around with growing a beard, and he tried several versions which were unusual, distinctive, and even playful. Wondering how he looks now?

happy and beardless: it was collecting too much ash!

Finally back to the mecca of Tango,  we went dancing at Sunderland with good friends from San Luis Obispo!

me, Ben, Val & Mary

Do we miss our friends from the Central Coast? YES! Did we miss Buenos Aires when we were in the mountains? Yes, but we liked the quiet. Did we miss our apartment? No, not really. Did we miss a lot of tango classes? Yes. Did we miss dancing? YES!!! It’s tough to be a tango addict out in nature. Did we miss the lovely summer weather in Buenos Aires? Definitely! 80°F and humid, with frequent thunderstorms, is close to perfection. 85 – 105°F and dry with no rain for months (back home) is also very nice, but not as thirst-quenching. 65°F and windy (Bariloche) I can do without! But the cabin we stayed in was super nice: Balcón al Lago, Llao Llao.

Back in the city we have some great friends, and boy do they put on some great parties!

Dolores & Guilermo singing on a wabi-sabi guitar!

the girls are ready to go dancing!

Back in Tango paradise, we plugged into the city scene like a set of jumper cables suckin’ down juice from the Infinite Source of all Power: Tango. If you’re tired, stressed, lonely, got a headache, restless legs, whatever your issue, chances are Tango will set you straight. You know how sometimes you need to be around a crowd, even if you don’t know anybody, just to feel human again? Well I feel that way too! I prefer dancing at milongas that are not well lit. I don’t like to feel watched. There are some milongas in Buenos Aires where people dance to be seen: Salon Canning, Niño Bien, Confitería Ideal, Sunderland, Porteño y Bailarín. But I prefer the ones where you can be anonymous, like la Viruta, Sueño Porteño, Maldita Milonga, Café Vinilo, Círculo Trovador, Sin Rumbo, La Baldosa, El Tacuarí, Lo de Celia.  To name just a few. I prefer to dance with my partner, connect to my partner, connect to the music, the musicians, the floor, the community of dancers going ’round and ’round.  Then you can experience the bliss of joining the harmonious whole, the fantastic exotic universe that is Tango. You are just another pair of bodies moving around the dance floor, moving to the same beat and compás, that syncopated beat, the heart of Tango. It’s a healing, harmonious space where the music and your partner hold you close. You close your eyes and just dance.

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Ciao from Buenos Aires!