Sunday, October 31, 2010

Everyday Day of the Dead

This year's Day of the Dead tableaux in the plaza in the heart of Coyoacan, here in Mexico City, were as fantastic as ever.

But one in particular caught the eye, reminding us that for many young people the Day of the Dead comes on many days.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Last tango in Cordoba

We've just finished doing a 2 day seminar in Cordoba, Argentina's second city, tucked away in the mid northern interior of the country. It's a great town, that does justice to Saturday night and seems blessed with an abundance of warm and generous people. It's been among the funnest 'sing for our supper' trips yet. We arrived a day ahead of an annual Cordoba holiday, and only did the seminar days after that. So there was a much appreciated chance to hang out with our generous guests, see some very interesting places, and eat altogether too much good food. Even today's trip back has taken on a special charm – we found out last night (by chance) that today's midday flight to Santiago de Chile and on to Mexico City had been changed without notification. We are now leaving 3 hours early, going to Lima and then on to Cancun and, finally, to Mexico City. Given that the day is a right off anyway it will be nice to at least see a bit of white sand. It's a fine day and with luck there'll be some nice views of the Andes.

On the first day here we went with Joel, Marcela, Horacio and Justavo to the former Jesuit estancia in the historic nearly town of Alta Gracia. Basically, the estancia was a farm that provided food to support the university established by the Jesuits. The buildings, the best part of 400 years old, were in great shape and lovingly maintained and restored where appropriate, sitting alongside an impressive hand constructed lake. I especially enjoyed the forge, with its massive set of leather bellows operated by a big overhead lever that the smithy operated beside his anvil. There were lots of artifacts and some beautiful timber. I could have spent hours in the forge alone just taking in the detail and dreaming away on what it must have looked like in full swing.

After one of the best restaurant meals I have ever enjoyed we went to visit the childhood home of Che Guevara, also in Alta Gracia. The family moved there because they thought the climate would be optimal for Che's asthma. The house is now a museum and the focus is very much on the life of Che as a child and adolescent. Some of his favourite books were there (e.g., Gulliver's Travels), as well as some of the letters he had written to a favourite aunt. Also on display were the motorcycle used in the film about the motorcycle diaries, and a powered bicycle on which Che toured several Argentinian provinces. All in all, a most interesting perspective on the early life of a legend.

The hard work of the seminars passed more quickly than it might have, and last night brought a welcome sense of having done the work and now being able to kick back with good friends in a restaurant where Saturday night brings on a tango floor show. This morning's early start meant lingering less there than might otherwise have been the case, but we saw enough to further confirm a growing sense that Cordoba is a place it would be great to come back to.

It would be a lot of fun to explore the many and fascinating ways the digital underground here has found to make services available under very favorable conditions and at friendly consumer rates. Agustin, who participated in the seminar, was a mine of information on the digital underground and had us smiling at regular intervals as he described local ingenuities. A favourite example was how the problem of bandwidth had been addressed in the interests of the town's many players of massively multiplayer online games. Easy, really. Just load everything onto a server and set up a sizable LAN. No need for bandwidth, or for subscriptions to play the games. With very cheap rates for a link to the LAN almost everyone wins.

Can't wait to get back.

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