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Journey to La Plata, the other capital Buenos Aires

This past week I decided to take a leap of faith and join the group of art and design students from the National University of Cuyo that were going to a student congress in La Plata. La Plata is the capitol of the Province of Buenos Aires, located near but not to be confused with the city of Buenos Aires, capitol of the country. A couple of guys in my Art History class were going and talked me into going as well with the promise that there would be live music every night and we would paint a mural. (and they were right). There was live music, every night. Even our first night in the bus was a party because a couple of guys had brought their guitars, and others had brought maracas and a caja peruana, which is something like a wooden box used as a drum. Everyone knew all the songs of course, except for Ashley, a girl I recruited to go from IFSA and I. So, we shook the maracas and banged on the ceiling. Music is universal no matter the language.

The only bummer was that it rained the first two days we were there, and the floor we were sleeping on got wet and cold. Aside from the weather, it was excellent. We met people from all over Argentina. It was a very liberal conference about educational reform and there was a definite hippie vibe amongst the group. We went to a few of the ¨tallers¨, but the audio was hard to hear and with our Spanish skills hard to follow. However, we did somehow find an interview with a song writer from Uruguay, Ana Prada, which was not part of our conference, but probably the best thing I went to while there. She talked about her life, finding her passion, where her songs came from and played a bunch of songs. We almost couldn´t believe we had stumbled upon this.  And, we could understand every word she said!!

The difference between the dialects of Spanish countries is astounding. We spent most of our time with 6 other exchange students; 2 from Mexico, 2 from Chile and 2 from Colombia. The mixture of Spanish was, obviously, hilarious. We also had Ricky from Missiones which is a town near Iguazu, and a group from Mendoza. Since the congress was a little hard to follow, we decided to go exploring in the city. We saw the famous cathedral, the theatre, the government building, the park, their cultural center which doubles as an art museum, and the museum of natural science. I have never seen so many dinosaur bones, or just bones of every kind of animal rather, in my life! They had rooms of taxidermied animals I have never seen before. Not to mention that all the dinosaurs were different from those I grew up with!

On the last night there was a big closing ceremony which seemed to double as a political rally. The speakers were very passionate and excited about their Neoliberal cause. We weren´t very involved in it, but neither was the majority of people. Everyone was huddled in circles talking or passing maté. However, after dinner that night we had the last musical performance. It was very laid back, just people come up to the mike to sing and play songs. But, as always everyone knew all the lyrics and the dances to go along. When the last few songs were played, someone got up on a table and started to sing the songs rewritten with new lyrics. The lyrics were political and contemporary and somehow everyone knew these too. Anyway, the huge group of people began to form a circle and jump up and down moving the circle from a circle to a giant moving blob and back to a circle again. So, of course, we joined in.

Sometimes I feel lost in the latinamerican lifestyle because it is so culturally different from ours, but this was an awesome weekend and I felt right at home, though a little mojada y con frio. jajaja

congress

we´re not actually this important, but the famous singer that was giving a talk on social movements and music had left…

floor

This is the room we stayed in

party

party2

The first night´s party.

mural

The mural we painted.

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