Norton Ink

Argentina 2002

29 de Junio 2002

Well I thought for a bit that not much crazy was going to happen to me after my last adventures, but of course, I was a tad bit wrong, I am a Norton, after all. Drama 24 hours a day, real or imagined.

We took another trip to Paraguay on Friday. This time to take a long bus ride to San Ignacio Iguazu to see some Jesuit mission ruins. Had to wake up and be ready to go by 8am, which I was, with one thing and another (crossing borders and with papers getting checked missing bus connections) it wasn’t until 11:30 that we arrived in the town where we were going. Since it was such a long bus ride we were much farther North and it was considerably hotter, making a grand choice of my black t-shirt let me tell you.

Everything shuts down for siesta which happens, oh, right around 11:30 and doesn’t open for another 2 1/2 hours. That includes old ruined Jesuit missions AND their museums. We were in Paraguay and Argentinean pesos weren’t working here (however they work great in Encarnacion, the Paraguayan border town just across the river from Posadas) and none of the banks would change our money into Guaranis (Paraguayan money). So no food, damn hot and nothing to see, we got on another bus and spent two and a half more hours in hot misery heading back to Argentina.

But we finally arrived at the border crossing. Usually, if you live in the area you just need to have a travel document with you that guys who hop on the bus check and usually let you pass through. If you have a passport however, you have to hop off and run into the immigration office. Having done this one time before (see notes about missing buses earlier) I jumped right off and ran over to immigration. Luckily I was the only one in line and the guy was really cool, even gave me the thumbs up sign when I got stamped. Oh one silly side note, every time you enter or leave a country here you get a stamp, so with 2 trips to Paraguay in one week I ended up with about 8 extra stamps in my passport. However I was so speedy that I was able to hop right back on the same bus.

However, when we came into Paraguay that morning, Teresa hadn’t received a little piece of paper saying that she had entered Paraguay, therefore she wasn’t able to leave. Huh???? Anyway, we both had to get off the bus while she dealt with that beauracratic hassle. No biggie, 10 minutes later a new bus arrived. Then they drop you all off at the entrance to Argentina. You get your docs checked and then they let you back on the bus. Well, we were last in line and the when we got there that guy just had a thing for us. First, my passport is green, not the usual blue and that got the once-over. Then he saw all the stamps in and out of Paraguay. More suspicion. He asked how long I was staying in Argentina, Teresa answered for me, “Two months,” which wasn’t entirely true as it was a tad longer but, whatever. He stamps the entry back into Argentina and the days allowed to stay (the norm for USA citizens is 90 days, and my 2 other entry stamps had that designation). After getting the passport stamped and initialed we walk over to a gendarmerie and he gives the passports the once over, suddenly I notice my passport is marked for only 60 days in Argentina and I needed at least 70. CRAP. Talked the army guy about it, and he said, “Well, why did he do that?” Which is what I wanted to know. So I had to walk back to Mr. Official and discuss a change. He wasn’t too happy about it, but in the end, after missing our bus yet AGAIN, I got the 90 days I needed. See if I ever go back to Paraguay.

Today we drove to San Ignacio Miní (more Jesuit ruins but completely in Argentina) and I finally got to see some ruins. They were immense and beautiful and I got LOTS of pictures. Really, really super fantastic. Then by accident I agreed to go see the house of Horacio Quiroga, a famous author who lived near the Jesuit ruins in the early 1900s. It was great, I got to see his house, which had a gorgeous view of the Paraná river (the one separating Paraguay and Argentina). I even saw an avocado tree!!! Celso saw several avocados (aguacates in Spanish) on the ground and he picked them up, he asked permission to take them and the guide said it was cool. As we were driving back to Posadas we went past a farm (campo) and Celso said it was theirs, we are going to go see it tomorrow!

We got back to town and I was bushed so I went to take a siesta and (no surprise to Kevin) as soon as I laid down I wasn’t the least bit tired, so I just read. An hour or so later, Cecilia and Sergio arrived and I got up and we all just hung out and talked. Just as they were about to leave I suggested trying to hook up the laptop to the ADSL modem. We hadn’t really even tried yet, we got stuck at the “Do you have this pc program that links you to the modem?” stage. Since I didn’t, I thought we couldn’t proceed, but later, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Mac had its own program to hook to modems, all I needed was a user name and a password and VOILA! I was connected!!!! So simple. Now I can fully utilize this great tool and write all my journals on here instead of straight to an email. Plus I have more chances for correcting when I have to re-read between writing and sending.

Then Teresa and I went back to the Institute of Music and saw a choral spectacular. There were four different groups who each did about 4 songs. Because it is a school, 3 of the groups were kids/teenagers, not much older than 13-14. Only one group was adults, and clearly they had been singing together for a long time. It was interesting because each group sang one song in English and I was really looking forward to understanding all the words. However, I found that because they were native Spanish speakers, they mispronounced the English slightly and it was more annoying than not knowing the words they were singing! However, they all did a great job with special emphasis on 2 different groups, these groups seemed to have more joy, they moved with the music and smiled more. The other groups looked a little nervous, but I guess that is normal when you are younger.

When I used to go see choral groups I would always imagine myself up in the group singing, probably doing a solo (am I the only one who is so ego-centered???) but this time I wanted to be the director, stand this way, smile, enjoy yourself!!!! Of course, I would have done a great job, what they need to do is have me as a consultant before the shows, that way I wouldn’t have to go to school to learn how to read music or conduct.

After the music, we picked up Celso and went to dinner. It was at this great restaurant called, “Fausto’s.” My dinner had so much garlic I can still taste it this morning! Up on the walls of this restaurant was an exhibit or paintings by an art teacher of Teresa’s. This very interesting oil paintings on hard plastic that appeared as if he had tossed some paint on and used a straw to blow the colors outward. But, so clearly, in the paint, there were figures of people and motion, it was amazing. These paintings were backlit. One or two of them I didn’t like but for the most part they were really interesting. Here is the kicker, they are only 120 pesos each, which amounts to about $35 and there is one I want SO bad, but getting it home would be a royal pain the butt, so I am going to wait to make that decision.

Here is where the night got fun, after dinner a space was cleared on the floor or the restaurant and there was a Tango demonstration, or rather, exhibition. This man was the Argentinean equivalent of Wayne Newton!!!!! Soooooo cheesy and in red poly slacks and a white dinner jacket with silver lamé, he had the hands-off mic and everything!!!! There was also a beautiful woman who had danced with him. After each dance, she would leave the floor and he would sing a song while she changed. It was all kind of cheesy and silly. They were both good dancers but clearly it was a working relationship, only. I couldn’t actually tell, but it seems the Tango is supposed to be a dance between people who hate each other but love each other so fiercely that they can’t stay away from each other. These two were merely bored.

During the whole dinner, outside there was a spectacular lightening storm, coming more rapidly together than I have ever seen lightening. Then the promise of the storm came through during the dancing, a HUGE downpour of rain. I was so strongly tempted to rush out into the rain and spin circles in the streets like I did as a child, it was so spectacular, but I barely refrained. I felt like these people were being shown up by the tempestuous weather. Whenever I am at a show that is of mediocre interest to me, I always want to leave early. Every time I end up staying, I never regret it (I have to say in my defense, when I have left these shows early, I never regretted it, either). But these two pros had something to show the cynical. Towards the end, the Wayne Newton guy asked the men in the audience if they knew how to dance the Tango and tried to get anyone to get up and dance with the woman. Finally, finally the owner danced with her and he did really good!! He certainly wasn’t Wayne Newton but he did an admirable job, then the two pros danced again and they were spectacular. They had done several different versions of the tango and this last one I liked the best. The whole audience begged for more, and they did one last dance which wasn’t a tango but was fun and joyous and I loved it. LOVED it, I was so glad that we stayed.

This culture has so much respect for music and dance, everyone here, even the teenagers respect the older music. EVERYONE plays an instrument, or dances or sings. Then I think back to some High School music functions in the United States, where you practically had to beg people to attend. This is the beauty of this culture. These people have so much respect for these things, they aren’t even high culture, just normal. I promised to say something about Posadas but this has already gone a tad longer than I expected (Norton genetics, again). So next time. Plus we will have gone to the farm!