Back in action

12 hours of sleep later and I think it is safe to say I am approaching something close to normal health. Trouble is lingering in certain areas but at least I can walk around again. My 80% recovery is well-timed because I have been meaning to check out two exhibits at the Museo de Arte Popular Jose Hernandez and I know today is the closing date for one of them.

I was relieved to find the inside of the museum quaint and humbly sized since the idea of traversing enormous halls in my unpredictable condition still sounded overwhelming. One of the exhibits was a collection of old tango memorabilia with shoes, records, paintings, testimonials, and more. The other featured hand-made instruments and focused on “craftsmen of sound”, their materials and techniques, and how the very involved work of constructing an instrument culminates in the emotion of the music that inevitably gets played from it. There was a quote from one of the artists related to the love of music and the search for sounds, and it made me think about how constantly seeking out new sounds (or synthesizing your own) is such an important part of electronic music production. There are fascinating consistencies in the underlying methods of creating music today even though our tools have changed so drastically.

I made a wrong turn leaving the museum and found myself literally on the wrong side of the tracks. The area had gone from modern and urban to industrial and relatively desolate in a matter of blocks. I pushed through in search of an outlet back to less blighted streets but this area seemed completely disconnected except for the way I had arrived. I recognized this as another time when I was lucky to look like myself. I have been granted a level of access in Buenos Aires that I have decided to refer to as “tan privilege”. It means I am not immediately identified as a gringa out of place when I wander into a neighborhood like this. It gives me the critical amount of leeway I need to course correct or find escape routes with a clear head instead of feeling like I am being stared at or targeted. I am aware that this variety of privilege has its limits, but I am grateful for my small measure of it nonetheless.

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The highlight of my day was the Sunday Fair in San Telmo. This is a fairly well-known weekly event held in and around Plaza Dorrego, and even though my previous experience in San Telmo was less than stellar I trusted the friend who recommended it to me and braved the journey. I was rewarded by an amazing assortment of handmade crafts, artworks, instruments, and antiques. It was the opposite of the ridiculous zone of hanging balls and cheap sport sandals that had assaulted my senses earlier in the week. This was the market I had always wanted. A hundred different potential impulse buys pawed at my pocketful of pesos but I maintained discipline and only spent what I had already put aside for the outing. I am going to return next Sunday though, and the plan is to merrily blow whatever is left of my wad here.

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I felt recovered enough to think a beer sounded good, and instead of dropping into a bar I chose to drink on the street like the booth hippies and watch people shop and socialize. There is something uniquely satisfying about finally savoring a local beer in the sun after being wiped out for days by a stomach plague.

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Tomorrow I leave for Uruguay. I had the genius idea of running some money conversion numbers to see if it was better to change my dollars to Argentine Pesos first and then buy Uruguayan Pesos with those instead of converting my dollars directly. As it turns out, the amount of Argentine Pesos I can get for my dollars here on the Buenos Aires black market will get me 50% more Uruguayan Pesos than if I simply sold my US dollars in Uruguay. This currency game is getting fun. Off to Montevideo and Colonia!

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