Sunday, 9 November 2008

The last day with Stefan... for now

My first Sunday would be my last day with Stefan, as he was setting off in the evening for a 15-hour bus ride to Malargüe. Stefan is a true adventurer, and a photographer: he showed me some amazing photos of past trips around Argentina and Peru. He likes to get on his motorbike and travel around, capturing the breath-taking and sometimes surreal landscapes of Latin America (he's a motorbike mechanic, so his skills are obviously handy for such expeditions…). There's talk of putting a website together when we both get back from our travels: upon seeing the photos, I told him that he simply had to share them with the rest of the world, and he admitted that he'd always been thinking of doing some sort of website. This was what we discussed at lunchtime, which we had in Recoleta, the posh part of town.

I wanted to go to Recoleta for a quiet Sunday, because this is the home of the cemetery where so many of the leading figures in the history of Buenos Aires are buried. I was, of course, looking for the tomb of Macedonio Fernández. It seemed like a strange thing to do, because I'm not particularly entertained by the Christian culture of burying the dead and erecting large monuments in their honour. What makes it stranger still is that Macedonio himself didn't even believe that people died. In a way, he was right: people do live on in the minds and hearts of others, even when their body gives up. The spirit of certain people, their achievements, their contribution to the world, will never die. Nonetheless, visiting Macedonio's grave struck me as one of those moments where cultural conventions and rituals won out over rationality.

Macedonio Tomb

After Recoleta, we headed into town, to the Abasto shopping mall again, so that Stefan could say farewell to Jaime. I picked up a pair of earphones and instantly got the urge to do the Rolex Sweep around the mall… Jaime saw me wandering around, lost in the music, and they eventually grabbed hold of me. Jaime confirmed what he had already told me on my first night here: that he was my friend, and he was here to help me. This sort of friendship is the most touching sort, and again, it's proof of the Latin spirit. I came to a large city where I knew absolutely nobody, but instantly somebody told me that they'd help me get through things.

Stefan left for his lengthy bus ride, and I wasn't jealous: after the flight here, it'll take me a while before I want to make any more long journeys. My excitement for his and for my futures offset the sadness that I felt that I'd lost my daily companion. There's talk of putting a website together to show off his adventures when we both return home and, who knows, we may even meet up again in another part of Argentina in about a month. He's not on his bike this time, but in a Land Rover, so there's room for a companion…

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