Sunday night means the early milonga at Glorieta in the great gazebo and under the stars. I had texted Niico that I hoped to see him but got no response. He apologized when I saw him, said phone not working right. But he had lots of business that night and other than drinking mate with him and some pals out on the grass and a very brief portion of a tanda, we didn’t connect much. He was working the crowd, checking in with potential students, doing what a padrino does. I had a few dances and walked down a few blocks to the main street and caught a taxi. Monday of the last week I set out to gather a few needed items, especially a large duffel from a shop on avenida Santa Fe near the Palermo stop. I needed another bag for that big painting Hugo’s mom gave me when I was out in Santa Fe province, six hours north of BsAs. And the tokens for my family would not all go into the other cases. It’s all about the shoes, you know, and by now I had several pair. Monday night it was Luci’s class at Malcomb on Cordoba at 8:30, then the practica/milonga. My best night at Motivo. I bring gifts for Luci: a book for her little girl which she seems to love. It’s got places for the child to touch all the way thru. And for her, a lovely bottle of lemoncello. We share a very warm hug and exchange some brief words of appreciation. Chino danced with me a lot in the lesson as I was sorted into the smaller, more advanced group working on boleo series. This night he sees my progress and I get several “yes’s” from him. Each “yes” is a gift and a blessing. I danced a lot this night including a special tanda with German, El Chino’s friend and one of my special teachers. He’s my concept guy and a big reason my dancing is so much better. German gets in my head. He plays drums in LALittleband, an awesome jazz group that bears watching. They are plenty awesome. I meet a young couple from Germany at the next table. They watch most of the evening. She’s chatty and tells me how well she thinks I dance when she shares she’s amazed at the general high level of dancing here. I miss her name and numbers and am sorry later I didn’t make a greater effort. Chino sits with me quite a bit this night and we talk. This is highly unusual as he’s often working all night. But we are aware the time grows short and this is my last Motivo. I stay to the very end this night, helping take the colorful plastic covers off the dozens of small tables and folding for next week. Carla, Chino’s dance partner helps for a while too, then goes. Chino and I are last out the door, and he sends me ahead saying he’ll meet me outside after he turns off the lights. As I step out onto the sidewalk there is Bruno, German and his nobia and maybe one or two others. It’s about 2 a.m. I don’t know if they will head home or go over to Veruta, but I say goodnight and head for the corner of Cordoba to cross for a taxi. I sprint across as I am against the light and one lone car comes whizzing toward me. Then a taxi appears immediately and I jump in. Later Bruno tells me he watched me as I went. This is typical protective behavior of Argentine men. I knew they would be sure I was okay. He smiled and said he told the others, “She left 25 years behind when she came.” And he was right in a way. Bruno had felt badly that night that he didn’t show for our Monday apt or even answer my texts. So Tuesday we had an apt for lunch across from Lunallena at the coffee shop on the corner. We sat outside as the day was pleasant. I ordered my favorite pumpkin soup which comes with a scone and small green salad, with coffee con leche. Bruno had a delicious looking sandwich. He managed his but even tho we talked for two hours, I couldn’t manage more than half my soup. My hunger was gone; I was being filled up with love and kindness and friendship. “Bruno is famous,” Ricarda told me. She’s the owner of Lunallena, my tango hotel. I had seen him dance at a milonga recently, since his last tour. It was a mini show, typical of milongas here. They usually happen at 12:30 ot 1 a.m. and include 3 to four dances, some choreographed, some improvised. I saw many of these and Bruno’s was unbelievable! Though this day he tells me he wasn’t particularly happy with the performance. We talk deeply and he tells me about his life, his family, his decision to dance, his part in making the world a better place. I ask him if he wants to ask me anything, as he has done most of the tallking. He thinks for a moment and then looks into my eyes: “Come back to us.” I tell him I want to and I will. But next time only for a few weeks. This visit was a rare blessing.
Wednesday I go to shop for my last supper in BsAs. I have invited a few people: Nico and Arenalis, Chino and Bruno, German who brings his girlfriend too, Rodrigo, George and Darlene, guests at the hotel, Esther from Denmark and my frequent milonga pal, who comes by early to say bye but passes on dinner, Michael, Nico’s American teacher friend, who doesn’t come, Carlos and another gal in the hotel who had made other plans. I collect ingreedients for stuffed mushrooms, asparagus ham rolls, tomatoe basil salad, potatoe salad, waldorf salad and civiche. I add sausages and cheeses and green olives, breads and crackers, coke, water, mixers for gin and tonic. George will bring the wine. I spend most of the day preparing food and enjoying it so much. This is my gift to these people I have come to love and I hope they will enjoy. It begins to rain and this is a disappointment because Chino is supposed to come for me on his motorcycle. He, German, Bruno, Geopge and Darlene and I are all going to Rodrigo’s art/tango show in the Konex, a new hip performance and milonga venue at 3131 Sarmiento. I have picked up the tickets the day before. The show is fantastic and lasts about 90 minutes. There are 6 dancer/actors, 3 men, 3 women. It’s funny, intreaguing, brilliant! The best show I have seen in BsAs; perfect for my last night. And everyone in the young tango world is here tonight. The place is teaming with talent! Chino comes with a cab to pick me, Darlene and George. The others meet us there. After Darlene and George head on home to Lunallena while I hang with the boys who have a lot of chatting and connecting to do, and we want to wait for Rodrigo to congratulate him. Chino rides over on Rodrigo’s bike and German and his nobia and Bruno and I grab a cab. By now we are all starving! The dinner party is a lovely evening, warm and cozy, fluid and full of good feelings. Nico has not been with us, but he shows up with his nobia. I am grateful as I know he is tired from the Intensivo this week and comes reluctantly. He hands me a disk on the school out in his hometown we are trying to support. He took me there a few weeks before to dance with him in a benefit for this high school for kids who have been in trouble and now want a second opportunity to get their lives together. German hands me a gift they have put togehter: a guide book for the collectivos(buses) of BsAs, a supte pass with two rides and a bunch of change. “You need these for when you return.” I accept with gratitude and tears and we share a nice hug. Rodrigo brings me a cd he’s burned for me of music he wants to share. Nico and his nobia are the first to go home and before I am able to give my small tokens, cd’s I have collected and chosen for them: late night selections of electronic tango for Bruno plus a double disc of Pink Floyd. His big surprised smils says he is very pleased. Then for Rodrigo, the latest Otros Aires disk; for German, a great latin jazz album, and for Chino my treasured Cat Stevens disk and my most treasured book of the moment: Hafiz’s The Gift. Everyone is amazed that we are all standing around having this time together. We are aware what a rare and surreal moment it is on this planet. It’s late, everyone helps with the cleanup; lots of leftover food which I package up for the boys to take home. They all live on the economic edge, these young artists, never knowing where the next money is coming from and how long it can last. They are pleased to have some provisions. I wallk them to the door which must be opened with two keys moving simultaneously, and we say our goodbyes again. I step outside and just linger a moment, reluctant to let them go. Finally a turn back into the building. It’s nearly 3 a.m. and I go to finish washing up before heading to rest. I couldn’t have asked for a better last night for my time in BsAs. And it’s not over! Bruno comes at 1 p.m. on Thursday for my first and only lesson with him (this trip!) It’s perfect. Bruno integrates his research and philosophy into his dance. His goal is to free us to dance playfully but with control. He underscores much of what I already know are my challenge points, but also shows me new ways to understand what we are about in this tango experience. He is gentle, soft, clear, imaginative, sensual, so much fun! When our time is up, I take his face in my hands and say, Bruno, I know you want to make this a gift, but I want to pay you. This is your livelihood. “No, please,” he says, “This is something I can give to you.” So it is that my last lesson in BsAs is a rare gift from a young, brilliant rising star in the tango world of BsAs. I couldn’t in my wildest dreams, have imagined this. I can only say, “Muchas, muchas gracias!” Before he goes, I load Bruno up with the last of the kitchen things I must leave here: food, pans, etc etc. It’s a lot, two big bags. And I Offer to take in a taxi as he is on his bicycle. But he insists he can handle it and he does. My last image of Bruno is this tall, skinny guy on a bike with these big, heavy bags, balancing along the cobblestoned street called Arevelo. Bruno is turning down tours just now. He wants to remain in BsAs while his brother goes thru radiation therapy for the tumor in his head. It’s a worrisome time for the family and Bruno is dedicated to his family. It’s a good thing I fiinished up the packing in the morning because Rodrigo shows up about 3 p.m. to have a refresher on tapping. I am happy to see him once more, of course, tho this means no visit to Cami to get those shoes for Sandy. Alas. We sit at the table in the kitchen of Lunallena and review the process for tapping (eft) for the relief of pain and many other concerns like phobias and addictions. Rodrigo had a little sickness once and we tapped for him and it helped. He’s kinda into healing arts anyway, especially native healers, so this is up his alley. It’s a good visit and I am glad he made the effort. The taxista comes and Rodrigo helps me with the heavy bags, lugging them into the trunk. We hug bye again, and I am off. It’s 4 p.m. This time tomorrow I will be in my house in Beavercreek, outside Portland, repacking and copying handouts for sacred dance workshops the next day at Kah-Nee-Tah. It’s the UCC Northwest Women’s Retreat, and another world, another life away.