Walking with the dead

Picture of Sally in Recoleta It’s been quite a week for me in Buenos Aires. My laptop died on me and in the process managed to fry its USB ports. It did eventually wake up again but I’ve spent today organising a temporary fix by buying a USB card, so at least I can upload photos again and thus write my blog posts. At the same time, I managed to hurt my left foot and couldn’t dance for a few days. Now that my life depends on my feet, injuries are serious. I started to investigate hospitals, wonder about what I would do if the foot did not recover. A life of adventure may seem attractive but things still happen that I cannot control. Then, being alone in a strange country can feel quite difficult. This weekend I knew that all my tango friends in the UK were dancing together at the 14th Tango Tangk and I missed home, a little. I would not be human if I did not have tricky days. The thing is, I always know that they will pass. Tomorrow is a new start.

The sun shone at the weekend and I had a great day out in Recoleta, the barrio where I live. Gabriella and I walked to Plaza Francia behind the Buenos Aires Design Centre. There we found a huge colourful market packed with stalls selling traditional crafts, clothes, jewellery, bags, leather… you want it, they have it! It seemed the whole city was out sunbathing, shopping and eating at the many cafes and restaurants. We joined in like true BA chicas. ‘This is the life!’ we remarked as we sipped our banana licuados in the sunshine. It felt exciting to know that I can walk just a few blocks to this every weekend if I want to.

We walked back past the famous Recoleta Cemetery and decided to explore it in the perfect late afternoon light. It is impossible to describe the atmosphere of this place but I will try. No matter how many people are entering, the network of ‘tomb alleys’ absorbs the living. Cats live here and slink through the silence and the shadows, slip in and out of the ‘houses’ that hold the coffins and the memories. The dominant colours are monochrome: stone and marble, light and shadow, dust and cobweb. Occasionally there is stained glass and the sun’s rays splash through it and draw the attention. The dead are spelled out in text, symbolised by sculpture, celebrated with craftsmanship that becomes art in front of our eyes. We want to photograph every corner, every crumbling stone, every angel against the blue of the sky.  We walk in for a few minutes, stay over an hour, I say that I will walk here in the future: when I am sad, when I am joyful, when I want to remember how precious life is.

Walking with the dead reminded me of my purpose on this journey. No matter how difficult, I want to live my life as an adventure. I want to follow my dreams. I have never been more uncertain about the future than I am now, but to be here dancing in Buenos Aires, tells me that I am alive.

See pictures of me and Gabriella in Recoleta


4 Responses

  1. A friend of mine showed me photos of the Recoleta, and what a strange place it is. The found a ladder and managed to get an aerial view which was possibly even more surreal.

    The Tango Tangk milongas were excellent with lots of guests from far and wide. I’m counting the days until the next one now, or possibly until the next Mango… yummy dances await.

  2. As always, Sal, the true trooper – making the most of the situation.
    Enjoyed the photos of Recoleta. Hope the foot is truly recovered.

  3. Thoroughly enjoying your blog all the way from Australia, Sally! Also, I thoroughly enjoyed dancing with you while in Bs As 🙂

  4. I remember being lost for 2 hours in the cemetery…that was an experience…I was too cheap to buy a map when I first entered the cemetery…and to make it worst…I was too much of a guy to ask for help….

    …eventually, though, I did find my way out…it was definitely an adventure. Next time, I’ll buy the 5-peso map. *grin*

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