International travel is the biggest perk of my work. Wayne and I take three or four major international trips per year. We are very busy with responsibilities mostly, but we do allow ourselves the luxury of a few hours here and there to soak in the culture around us.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, is one of our favorite travel destinations. Built by and populated by Europeans, it has a nice mix of European peoples, culture, and architecture. It also has a colorful, indigenous culture deeply rooted in South America. The people are amazing–warm, hospitable, serving, generous–I could go on and on.
The food, oh the food! Yes, Argentina is famous for their beef. A real haven for Texans! But unless you visit Buenos Aires, you don’t know that there are many Italians living in the city. That makes BA one of the best places in the world for genuine Italian delights. Their homemade pizzas and pastas are beyond words–even better than we have had in Rome! And of course, every meal starts with their world-famous empanadas.
And if you are in love, Argentina is a very romantic city. If you catch an authentic tango, you are in for a treat.
I wrote this poem in a coffee bar while on one of our many trips to South America. I sat sipping a rich cup of coffee, reading a good book, and waiting for Wayne to finish a teaching session. The coffee bar was on the fifth floor of a building and standing next to it was a beautiful Catholic church. Its spires towered above me, and I became enthralled contemplating the contrast of the culture around me–cluttered, noisy, and chaotic–compared with the respite of peace and quiet the city sanctuary offered me. The choice was mine. So I picked up my journal and pen to see where the pathway would lead…
Clocks in Argentina
In Buenos Aires, I am perched high
on the veranda of a small coffee bar.
A majestic cathedral towers above me still, and I crane
my neck to survey its magnificent spires. At the top,
an alcove cradles the sculpted body of a dead Jewish king.
His head, with a jeweled crown, hangs in surrender, while
blood pours from His wounds. Pigeons fly to and from the sculpture.
Huge clocks surround the alcove crucifixion.
Three are visible from my vantage point alone.
Below me, madhouse traffic rages like the insane,
final moments of a soccer game. This city sanctuary offers a
cup of tranquillity for a few moments of my time.
I accept the invitation of respite from the
outstretched arms of the church.
I close my eyes to imagine myself sanctuaried within
the basilica—the stone, cold floor, the exquisite
sound of silence, the penetration of sunbeams through
colored glass, the rich warm wooden pews,
and the glowing warmth of candles—dozens
flickering in the low light.
A priest’s robe sways across the room,
incense fills the air, but the candles command my attention.
They can be extinguished by a gust of city wind,
like my sin in an
amnesiac drop of blood.
I wonder in awe that I am sprung from those
sculpted, bloody wounds of the shadowed
alcove above, and I wonder what time it is.