A Letter from South America: Beautiful Moments, Part III

This is the third in the series of four articles about a trip to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil made by Lisa (2019) in November 2013.

Discussing South America without a word about the roads would have been wrong and disrespectful. Volumes could be written about the grace of the narrow and perfectly straight arteries, cutting through beauty. We went directly south, following an often empty lane. A lane as powerful and perfectly straight as it is possible to imagine. These roads were beautiful. Utilitarian, and, consequently, often overlooked, they possessed a charisma, akin to that of Patagonia as a whole.

Several hours down La Ruta del Fin del Mundo (literally – the road of the End of the World), a highway only slightly wider and busier, was Punta Arenas, an industrious, windy port city, with a character stated in bright and distinct lines. Having boarded a ship there, we continued to Ushuaia, past Cape Horn, cutting through the rough and empty seas the color of steel. The sun doesn’t shine here, nor does it seem welcome to do so. The Glacier Alley on the Beagle Channel, the Strait of Magellan, the captivating, disturbing, and attractive depth and largeness of the ocean was beautiful. The only company that was kept to us, the slightly lonely passengers of an Australis cruise ship were the dolphins, occasionally showing their heads above the water and the albatrosses, perfectly free, much like the condors elsewhere, who followed the ship crying out messages to be passed on to their friends on the other side of the world. The fever of the raging seas, the truly harsh, metallic skies, and the ethereal landscapes around, turned into a whirlwind of ideas, thoughts, impressions, and inspiration, producing a side-product of mild claustrophobia. As with modern art, the tranquil spectacle unfurling outside was too attractive to forget, and too profoundly disturbing not to fall in love with.

After three days, we emerged in Ushuaia, the southernmost city of the world, freezing, windy, and slightly intimidating. A brief flight later we were back in the warmer, northern part of the continent, in Buenos Aires. A city that seemed to epitomize spring, a welcome and much needed relief for the hearts of travelers still burdened by the anxiety and the deeply philosophical beauty of the troubled southern seas.

There were large avenidas, with 6 lanes of furious traffic rushing in every direction. Growing along them, the innocent jacarándas, with their perfect little flowers were in full bloom, adding broad strokes of cheerful purple to the customary grey of a big city. Many of my impressions survive in the form of exclamations, akin to the vivid color splashes on a painting by Jackson Pollock. There was a giant Ficus tree in the very center of the city, creating a shadow with an unbelievable surface area. And, there was the Parque Tres de Febrero, holding the beautiful, jovial, elegant, pastel-colored roses, the sight of which provoked a reaction that could be best summed up in one word. “Spring!” And spring it was, firmly establishing its rights anywhere you looked.

Casa Rosada, the residence of Argentina’s president, was outstanding in the perfectly ecstatic, unbelievably pink color of its façade. There was the Teatro Colon and the building of the National Congress, both majestic presences proudly dominating gigantic squares. Everything seemed fundamental, great, constructed to fascinate and inspire awe. Music was in the air all around. Tango was danced everywhere, in the streets, in the evening shows, during the milongas.

Perhaps, it was the contrast, but Buenos Aires, which literally stands for “Good Air” in Spanish seemed to be truly a breath of delicious air, the city of color, the city of music, the city of Spring.

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Categories: Arts & Culture

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