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– Brazil Journal Week 17, 8 do Outubro – Joseph Thieman

October 22, 2012

Brazil Journal Week 17, October 8, 2012

After a long day of travel, I arrived in Argentina around midnight on Wednesday. As I walked down the stairs from the plane to the bus, I was greeted by a unique odor that smelled like the ocean; except a little bit to bitter to remind me of San Fransisco. The airport there was significantly smaller than all the others I have been to on this trip, and was much dirtier. The police force there were much more intimidating, more heavily armed, and included more women. In fact now that I think about it, in all my many trips to the federal police here in Campinas, I have never seen a female police officer here. As I went outside to get some air after passing through customs I was bombarded by extremely pushy cab drivers trying to pick up a fair. Everyone smokes in Argentina, including the above listed police, and the crazy cab drivers. The bored policemen and cabbies just stood outside for hours chain smoking; as we all laid around in the entry way waiting for our bus.

At least I have already been through the language shock once, and I feel like the second time isn’t as bad. I knew that pretty much the only options I would have there would be English, Portuguese, or try to listen to the way other people talked; but still five days is not nearly enough to really pick up much. We waited until 4am for the bus to take us to the hostel in La Plata. By the time we boarded the small shuttle bus, I was so tired that I immediately fell asleep, and didn’t wake up until the bus stopped in front of the hostel. Entering the strange new building, in the strange new neighborhood was a dark and cloudy blur.

The next morning Mike came around noon and took us the restaurant, and showed us where the school was. The streets were sprinkled with fashion savvy people, wearing fancy boots, and new yorker style coats and sweaters. The cars are all older, just like the buildings and the sidewalks. As I travel, I grow accustomed to the little things; like the way coffee is made or served, and the way sidewalks are built and look. After lunch we all went to the music school to rehearse. Some of the tunes had changed, and the rehearsal was really going well. As we practiced I thought about how much I wished I could play with musicians like this all the time. I am always trying to get better, but playing with guys who are better and older automatically steps stuff up, I don’t know how exactly to describe it.

We rehearsed late on Thursday night, so we could go to see Buenos Aires on Friday. We woke up around 11 and went out to find the bus station, where we could pick up a bus to Buenos Aires. The streets around the bus station were more depressing. I saw a child maybe around 8 years old, alone begging for money. I saw a dirty little girl, even younger than the boy, standing in front of a dirty building spraying it with a Windex bottle that looked older than her. I was very happy to get on the bus, where I could close my eyes, listen to Andrew Bird, and try to forget. Maybe I will talk a little bit about my opinions of social problems, and poverty later; or maybe I shouldn’t go there.

Buenos Aires is a huge city, and like La Plata, it has a very European vibe; although I’ve never been to Europe, it’s what I imagine is a European vibe. We walked around for what seemed a really long time trying to find a well-known restaurant, that I thought was a little too expensive. I actually hardly bought anything, but the portions were so big, almost everyone gave me some of their leftovers. We walked and walked more just looking at the buildings and passing time. After grabbing some coffee I decided to head back to La Plata before our Brazilian friends; who were going to see a friend do a clinic at the Brazilian Embassy. Chris and Shane came back with me, and even though we left early we didn’t get back anywhere before dark.

The concert on Saturday went great, there may have been one or two moments that were a little rough, but it was nearly impossible to hear on the stage. I really wasn’t super happy with my own playing; but that’s normal, I was just OK with it. I was, on the other hand, very happy and impressed with the playing of everyone else. Chris and Shane really stepped up the game for this concert while playing with our new friends. I don’t know why but for some reason, earlier that day we got the impression from someone not in the band, that maybe we didn’t deserve to be playing with those three really amazing, and incredibly nice people from Brazil.

The building where the festival was being held was a gigantic Victorian style building with a two high floors, and a long rectangular center that was lined by rooms and the second floor balcony. In this long room, which you could look down at from the second floor, was what I imagine to be the biggest tattoo and rock convention in all of Argentina. After every jazz song ended, I could hear the familiar sound of Metallica outside the doors; that part of the festival really sucked.

Overall the time in Argentina was great success. The music was great, as was the company. I was also really glad to get back to Campinas. When I boarded the plane to return, I was so happy to hear the flight attendant speaking to me in Portuguese. This brings me to the two months left mark, which is incredibly difficult to believe. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was completely frustrated with the very language I just said I was so completely happy to get to speak.

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