From the first moment I embarked on this trip, I had contemplated the idea of flying to Buenos Aires once I arrived in Cape Town, to take a vacation to visit my family and my friends. It could not have been better timing for that, because once the euphoria of the arrival had passed, by the time I completed the crossing along the first half of the African continent at Km 33,457 of this trip, the fatigue and the recent heartache that does not go away, finally hit me hard. I needed the company of my people, and Buenos Aires to rest and reflect
The holidays are supposed to be for resting.
I had not yet recovered from jetlag when the long succession of events had already begun. To the already difficult task of finding space to go from house to house to meet again and spend time with everyone I wanted to see after three years of absence, now on top of it all I had to: organize myself to attend appointments with different doctors to run some routine check-ups, vaccinating myself for the next stage of the trip, to the dentist to lose my first molar, my psychologist to sew my wounds, renewing my passport, updating my website, completing late photo submissions for stock, writing two magazine articles, visiting a potential client of photos, attend the inauguration of my first exhibition in a local gallery, press interviews, two on the radio, one on television, give a lecture at the National Museum of Decorative Art of Buenos Aires and yes, also some time to sleep and rest.
Romi, my inseparable friend of a lifetime, along with the unconditional support of Fede, her partner, spent months organizing in their spare time an exhibition of my photographic work. A very special event for me, the first formal exhibition of my work in a small gallery in Buenos Aires. Dozens of friends, acquaintances and interested people attended the night of the inauguration, to see the photos and to talk with me.
The network of contacts initiated by Romi was expanded and derived in an interview in an art-related website, and two great interviews in the program "Your attention please" on Metro (a very popular radio station in Buenos Aires). There, I visited Shumi Gauto and Nico Artusi in their program dedicated to travelers, to talk about the adventures and the experience of traveling the world by bike.
For the second time, my great mentor in University, and now personal friend, architect Alberto Bellucci, director of the National Museum of Decorative Art of Buenos Aires, kindly invited me to give a talk in the Museum, where I combined travel stories, adventures and photography.
After almost a whole year of playing episodes of my trip in each run thanks to the support of my friend Robert, I was finally able to visit Paola and Tomi live on the TV Show "De Gira" that comes out on Fox Sports throughout all Latin America.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Everything happened in Buenos Aires, which still remaints to be that increasingly chaotic space, that was my home for 28 years, and with both, its grandeur and its baseness continues to reflect an Argentina that is even more dysfunctional than the one I left almost a decade ago. Every return to the "city of fury" (as a famous local song calls it), every 2-3 years or so, reveals a different face of itself and of my people, depending on the part of the world from which I return, and it still hurts me to see that at every time I come back I see more stagnation, than evolution. In this particular time, I see spiritual stagnation and even backwardness. I see people being angry at the world, angry at each other for their political differences, complaining about everything, filled with visceral hatred that is always at the extremes. It is either black or white, you are with me or against me. A sickly divided society.
Could it be that having spent so long in Africa has already begun to have an effect on me? As I go around my city, even in its tremendous chaos, I look around, I examine it, I contemplate it and wonder: how can anyone complain when in every single place, you press a button and a light is lit on; when I open a tap and not only fresh water comes out but even more so, I am able to drink it; what's more, there is so much of it, that I can actually use it to bathe for a long time and even waste it; when I turn a knob and I have instant fire instead of having to gather timber and make a fire on the ground to cook; when I can wear footwear so that the sole of my feet doesn't have to turn into a thick crust necessary to defend myself from the roughness of the ground; when I can wear clothing that is not ragged and smells like soap and not filthy rags that barely cover my nakedness; when the floor, the walls and the roof of my house are solid and not of mud and straw; when I enter a store and I have a varied selection of food and not a single thing whose only purpose is not to feed me but to make me feel the illusion of being full. How is it possible that in Africa my daily life is surrounded by smiles in the face of scarcity and in Argentina there's hatred looks despite the abundance? Who has the real problem? I know we are not Norway and certainly we have problems to spare, but what it's very clear to me on this visit is that these problems will never be solved by dwelling on mutual hatred, enmity, contempt and carelessness of how much we already have, in the absence of a common dream for the good of all despite our ideological differences. As long as our minds are set to linger on what we lack instead of on what we've got, on ideological differences and not the similarities of human needs, then I believe that I will never see a better country every time I return.
During the 5 weeks I spent in Buenos Aires, one by one, I was fulfilling all the events, but what originally supposed to be a break, it turned out not to be a break at all. I did everything I had to do, ate everything I wanted to eat and been with all the people I wanted to be, but I hardly slept and much less rested. I horribly miss my space, the road, the long hours on the bike, the loneliness of the landscapes, the daily company of the local people, I already have an urgent need to return to Africa and continue my journey.