Flashbacks (or Something More)

15 04 2008

I think Argentina’s stalking me. Or haunting me. Or calling to me in some strange mental telepathy sort of way. Or perhaps I’m channeling Argentina and making it all up. Whatever the case, it’s been cropping up a lot.

It’s going to seem hokey, but while there I felt I had some sort of spirit/force/what-have-you watching out for me. I’m pretty sure it was Gaga, my maternal grandmother who passed away before I was born but who, I’ve always been told, had a strong adventurous spirit and was in all an amazing woman. I grew up jealous that my siblings have Gaga stories and I never got to know her. In my recent adventures, it only seemed right to speak to a strong female force in my life—who, incidentally, came to San Francisco from Hong Kong (by herself) at age 22, knowing no one (and my mom was worried about my move to NYC).

In my recent adventures, I got to know Gaga. Just when I was feeling exhausted or sick or lonely, I’d get pulled into a parade at Carnaval or stumble upon a beautiful Ash Wednesday ceremony. And it always seemed that I’d recently asked her for help. Call it what you will, I think my grandmother was looking out for me.

Then I came home, and during the job-hunting struggles of late I’ve had the distinct feeling that Gaga is giving me the silent treatment. Last week was especially rough (a separate post all to itself), and I went into the weekend feeling particularly frustrated and all around glum.

Then on Saturday I sat in Washington Square Park to enjoy beautiful weather and a band playing the greatest hits of Marvin Gaye. The man on the bench next to me was wearing a bracelet, a wooden saint bracelet that just about every male in Argentina sports. I happen to have one of these bracelets. It was given to me by Dario, who I met on a bus to Buenos Aires at the end of my trip. This experience warrants a separate post in itself, but for today’s purposes, it’s only necessary to say that in a particularly weak moment I called on Gaga and then met Dario (which happens, in addition to everything else, to be my nephew’s name). He gave me not only interesting conversation and perspective but a bracelet by which to remember him.

I wore the bracelet the rest of my trip and periodically put it on now that I’m home. It’s not fashionable, but it makes me happy. I wasn’t wearing it Saturday (I put it on when I got home), but the sight of another wearing it here in New York gave me that same sense of happiness, and a sense of peace that this is indeed a small world and a good one. I didn’t talk to said male because he seemed to have lost that Argentine friendliness, but I vowed to email Dario and tell him about it. (I have yet to do this, but I will. And then I’ll blog about it.)

Since then, Argentina’s been all over. This morning in DailyCandy there was a deal for a Pachamama massage at the Iguazu Day Spa, and while I didn’t make it to Iguazu I am definitely simpatica with Mother Earth (as the Pachamama is also known). I won’t be getting the Pachamama massage any time soon, but it seemed a weird coincidence since I keep hearing about things from Argentina.

Perhaps more bizarre was my experience yesterday. After an afternoon of struggling through the headache that is taxes (yes I’m one of those brilliant people who waited until the last possible minute) I heard a street band on my way to work. This is not uncommon (see above), and yet yesterday’s band was different: something about the horns and the rhythms was distinctive. Though I was surrounded by tall buildings and fast-walking people, for a second I turned the corner expecting a group of brightly colored diablos dancing around on a dusty street.

Perhaps it was my tax haze, but it seemed so real I was almost there, and I really did expect a parade. Is it all coincidence? Wishful thinking? Or am I simply going insane? Or could it be Gaga telling me to hang in there and remember my adventures (and her)? The jury is still out on all that. In the meantime, however, I will continue to wear Dario’s bracelet and to remember my parade.

And for fun, this video I took in Tilcara which captures my diablo abduction. You’ll see the girl next to me be pulled into the parade, then I laugh before my diablo grabs me and chaos ensues as I get pulled into the parade. It’s like the Blair Witch Project (except much less scary… and real).





Horsing Around

18 03 2008

Ginobli mingles with some furry friends on the way to the parade.
Ginobli mingles with some furry friends on the way to the parade.
It’s amazing how much joy a stuffed (pet) horse can bring. The horse, Ginobli belongs to Libby, and I’ve come to think of myself as his honorary aunty.

A few important things to know about Ginobli (or Ginobs as his friends know him):

  • Libby “won” him (but he’s a free horse so we don’t say that around him) at Dave and Busters two years ago and he’s been part of the family ever since.
  • He’s named after NBA star Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs. (Another fact of interest: Manu is from Bahia Blanca in southern Argentina.)
  • He’s not just a stuffed horse, and he’s certainly not a dog. He’s a Clydesdale.
  • His favorite song is Crazy Horses by The Osmonds. And…
  • He makes friends everywhere he goes.

Ginobli on the wall.

Ginobli meets his twin.
Resemblance? I think so.

Yesterday, Ginobs went to St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York. He started at the end, on 86th Street and worked his way down to the Met at 82nd, charming many a spectator along the way.

Ginobli and the big green hat.

He was so popular, grand marshal Tommy Smyth was probably jealous. He even acquired presents along the way, like a glittery green bowler hat from a kind lady whose child refused to wear it.

Ginobli’s Marach calendar shot.
The parade itself was your usual parade fare: walls of firemen and law enforcement marched, along with a few school groups, several bag-piping troupes, and ladies and gents in antique garb. Far more amusing were the crowds that populated its sidelines. We’re talking hardcore Irish here: giant green hats, gold sequined pants, green hair, necklaces, anything you might think of. These New Yorkers love their St. Pat’s.

But the parade is only the precursor to the massive party that followed in Irish pubs around the city (specifically, as I noted earlier, on Third Ave.) After all the crowd entertaining, Ginobs was tired and cold and insisted on having one beer, so off we stopped at Pat O’Brien’s. Almost immediately we were engulfed by firemen cheering for Ginobli, taking photos with him, and insisting on buying his mother and aunt (whom I think they felt sorry for since we’re both jobless) beers, so that ONE beer turned into three or four, and Ginobli found himself crowd surfing.

Ginobli and the crowd.

All in all, an eventful day for Ginobs. And Libby and I learned a few things too…

  • Wandering around the streets with a huge stuffed horse will get you some pretty strange looks, unless you’re at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • Horsing around gives you a whole new perspective on otherwise somewhat ordinary experiences.
  • Horsing around is a lot more fun with a real (stuffed) horse (er, I mean Clydesdale) around.




The Other Green Travel

16 03 2008

St. Patrick’s Day is not just a day in the tri-State area. The Irish set here really make the revelry last. As long as they can. The festivities start with the Hoboken Parade (usually the first weekend in March). Die-hard Irish and party devotees head across the river for a day of green beer and raucous parties. I’ve not attended myself, but have heard from friends that it’s chaos in the streets and there are lines to get into the bars.

Then comes St. Patty’s itself, which is marked by a whole weekend (whichever falls closer the the actual day) of green-clad Manhattanites, and many visitors, stumbling through Manhattan’s street at all hours of the night, and all hours of the day for that matter. These devotees aren’t messing around: the party often starts with beer over breakfast.

Though there are Irish bars and pubs all over the city, I’ve decided that Third Ave. between 18th Street and 30th Street is the Irish pub hub. Last night, decked out in my own green (and no, I don’t own green stilettos, nor even green shoes for that matter, though perhaps they should go on the list), I made my way up Third Ave. to meet some friends at the Mad Hatter. Along the way I passed Pug Uglies—where last year I saw a real Irish band, in full traditional dress, parade through the world’s tiniest (and most crowded) parade route—and several other Irish bars, all drenched in green lights and overflowing with the aforementioned green devotees, now barely able to walk due to the day’s long party.

The scene at the Mad Hatter was about the same as its pub neighbors, and after one beer my friends and I retired to the next likely St. Pat’s party place: Mexicana Mama’s, where we swapped guiness and U2 for the less traditional margarita and Mariachis. Somehow it was no less crowded, however. We waited an hour for our table, but the great food and the Mariachi serenade (we chose the ever-popular “De Colores“) made the wait worth it.

We ended the night with one last Guiness (which I only pretended to drink, ssh don’t tell) at O’Neill’s Irish Pub, also, remarkably, on Third Ave. but in the Forties (see, I must be onto something), where we listened to an Irish band and watched in rapture as the guy on the end gently tapped a large drum-like instrument (yes, that is the technical term). Over the crowds at this point, I didn’t enjoy the music for very long before I was ready to go home.

I’ll make up for it tomorrow when I visit the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the perks of not having a day job). It starts at 44th Street (at 11 a.m.) and winds its way up Fifth Ave., stopping near St. Patrick’s Cathedral where the Archbishop of New York, His Eminence Cardinal Edward Eaganwill watch and bless the parade. Given my penchant for partaking in parades, I’ll be avoiding the temptation this time around by watching closer to the end (86th Street), and then I’ll report back tomorrow.