Friday, October 21, 2011

Today's word harvest: three new trees

Sapo game

Today we crossed the Rosario-Victoria bridge (long bridge over the Paraná river, longer causeway across the wetlands) to Estancia "El Cerrito" for asado (barbeque), a folklore show (with audience participation dancing at the end), some fierce games of sapo (coin toss with a bronze toad's gaping maw as target) and lots of lazing around in the sun or shade, depending on preference.

And I learned three new trees today: Ceibo, Ombú, and Paraíso (Paradise). Trees I'd read about--the first two, anyway--but hadn't seen or identified. Our friendly hostess shared a number of other plant names with me, but I can evidently retain only a few at a time. I learned the Palo Borracho's name the other day, though I'd been taking pictures of it for a while. The trunk looks swollen (source of borracho--drunk?), with thick spines, then nips in almost as if collared before the branches spread, but the fiber inside the seedpods is incredibly fine and silky.

Ceibo-- Argentina's national flower

Paraíso. Kids call the seeds--loose skins, hard pits--
"venenitos" (that is, poison). They're popular,
and painful, additions to Carnival water balloons.

Palo borracho

Palo borracho seed pod

I also saw tantalizingly varied birds out the bus window: Lots of herons, but also one that looked like a long-beaked storks. Huge, fat raptors of some kind, eagle-sized, some flying, some perched, some waddling. With a kind of crest on the head, I think. But, of course, traveling too fast to be sure. Will have to try to get closer another time. Unidentified birds, plenty of cattle, lots of sunshine. My eyes are still prickling a little from the glare.

Trust me. Birds abound.

As do cattle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Juxtaposition (compare and contrast)

When the program excursion to Buenos Aires (several weeks ago now) visited the Recoleta Cemetery, I was struck by the "Make a Wish" billboard framed at the end of one of the narrow paths--streets, in a sense--that crisscross the cemetery. Well off hallowed ground, but present in its visibility, a foil to the wishes expressed in the elaborate tombs: wishes for status, for immortality, for some tangible way to communicate to the dead how intensely they were missed, and loved. And life goes on, visible in cobwebs and bromeliads and the crowds of tourists with cameras.
I've been thinking about juxtapositions, including those visual juxtapositions, reflections. Thinking them in Spanish and in English. Maybe because reflejo (in a mirror) and reflexión (thoughts, considerations) are two I still have to think about too often, afraid I'll mark my thoughtful interventions as mere wavery mirror preening. Also because yuxtaposición is fun to say in Spanish, the x a little softer, the y a somehow more welcoming glide into the word. But more because being here, out of my usual context, invites reflection, comparison, the hey, what's that? reflex of the photographer. And I've been enjoying reflections in café windows and mirrored office blocks while feeling stymied by the reflections in ferry windows that prevented my recording the not-too-interesting view of acres of brown river water with no shore in sight. No great loss, right? But when you can't get the shot you want, you're sure you're missing something. 

Yuxtaposición/Juxtaposition: a winner for Scrabble in either language, but hard to pull off, being so long. Maybe I'm really thinking about repetition, the repetition intrinsic to memory and to theater, the same only different, again and again and again. 

Teatro Solís
A highlight of my trip to Montevideo was Oyster, a performance by the Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollack Dance Company (Israel). [Watch a tantalizing little clip here.] Why juxtaposition? Because of the unexpected combinations of music and movement, the odd wigs, the humor, the extraordinary postures, the color. Because of the new of their performance (with all its nods toward older performance traditions) against the grand old Teatro Solís, all gold paint and red velvet. Because it was just so wonderful, I want to tell everyone.

A few more I've collected recently:

Ramblas, Montevideo, Sunday morning
City beach, dune (re)generation

There's a parrot in this shrub, if you can find it.

So as not to have to read the same things twice--
Not sure I get the logic here.