Vahram Muratyan is the author and artist behind Paris versus New York: A Tally of Two Cities, a blog that pits the pride and joy of both cities against each other in a magnificent series of minimalist prints. Through colorful graphics that border on 8-bit simplicity, Paris and New York come head to he’d, making it harder than ever to choose which city does it best.
Our travels begin in the imagination, long before the body is set in motion;
and they do not end when we return home.
The sounds, sights and smells, the newly learned and, even, the glancingly felt, continue to echo, refracting as they filter, like dust motes, through the thickness of our lives.
And so one travels once, in real time, and then forever more in ways perhaps even more meaningful.
I had a serendipitous encounter yesterday in Buenos Aires. Walking along the street, my eye was drawn to a little “boîte” of a shop, dark and lush with a center table set with gorgeous glass, dramatically spotlit. Enchanted, I stepped through into a magic kingdom of scent.
Fueguia, I was told by Julian Bedel, the “nose” and one of the world’s great perfumers, was a Patagonian Indian who joined an indigenous resistance to colonial powers and jumpstarted independence – at least that is what I remember of the story. What stayed with me was that Fueguia changed the score. And Bedel seems to have done the same. With scores of scents composed of 800 or more essences, this is a remarkable man of obvious talent but, on top of that, a man of poetry, of vision, of heart.
Start with the scents.
They come as extract of perfume, eau de parfum and room scents atomized in beautifully Japanese designed atomizers or burned with his gorgeous candles. And what scents they are! Mixtures of odd ingredients (think pink peppercorns) and usual ones, the strands are layered atop and alongside each other so that you can journey with the scent along olfactory pathways that lead to destinations that are pure feeling, ambiance, dreamscape. Along with each scent purchased comes a private letter to you describing, in a few poetic lines, the feel of the scent and then the ingredients.
How could I have been so fortunate as to enter the shop just when a charming guy in straw hat was on the floor? It took a while until I realized that this was the force, Julian Bedel, and then we spent almost an hour together. He guided me through the world of scent and then we talked of other things: the boxes which are made in Patagonia by a community they support; the other philanthropic work he does; the Latin American initiative he has launched to promote sustainable building practices; his vision to encourage local communities to understand, use and thereafter protect their botanical resources; his brand strategizing for individuals and companies. The man is a creative force.
Casa Sur is a really good, reasonable alternative to the grand hotels of Recoleta, the Alvear, Park Hyatt, Mansion Algodon and Four Seasons. Located on Avenida Callao just down the street from the big boys in a pretty 10-story house, this small boutique hotel has decently sized, peacefully decorated rooms, good service, an in-house restaurant, a tiny spa and, best of all, this great location. The rates are half those of the others and, while the entry level executive room might feel tight for two, there are other categories upwards from there. Regardless of the category, however, all rooms are well designed, contain everything one needs, have top of the line soft furnishings, and balconies that brings the outdoors inside and widen the vista.
There is this unusual aspect of my village in Uruguay..it is Sunday today and the two general stores in the village that offer any food are closed. I have pasta to cook..I am not without. Yet I have been asked by my neighbors to have dinner with them..a Sunday night simple kitchen dinner. Neighbors watch for neighbors.
Before I left for dinner I fed my visiting cat, Maxine, from a dinner I had last night..she tip toed over the wet grass (we had a huge storm today and are flooded) for her twice daily meal.
This is life as most people in the world live but we, from the capitals of the world, have only a distant memory of.
It is, without doubt, one of the most moving experiences.
Like Bartabas, Martin is magical with his horses. The stillness between them vibrates with an almost visible energy of love and trust. His performance is mesmerizing and moving.
Arriving from San Antonio de Areco to Pueblo Garzon, I have been doing my own horse talk with my neighbor in the next field over. I’ve learned that he listens intently but that he doesn’t like carrots.
Adorable Emilia from the beautiful estancia of La Bamba in San Antonio de Areco, shared with me her favorite shop for bombachas, those pleated, ankle-buttoned, waisted trousers that are synonymous with the Argentinian gaucho. The cut is important, of course, but what makes me keep searching for the perfect bombachas is the rough fabric one finds in most talabarterias. Emilia had the answer and sent me to Aux Charpentiers on Mexico and Santiago del Estero.
And there they are in cement, black, brown, khaki and – heaven! – white! And the fabric is the softest, smoothest, finest cotton!
They also carry Salteno bombachas and long split skirts noted for their many pleats and the fine embroidery running down each side. But these, while they made their way into my pile, are not pure cotton, but rather a mix of cotton and poly to “hold their pleats.”
It’s all fun and useful and not at all pricey or trendy. Just a product that is made and sold honestly.
What a relief!
A real find in BA’s trendy Palermo Soho, this small hotel with diminutive swimming pool on roof, reasonable rates (and rising as it becomes
more popular), welcoming staff and terrific in-house restaurant, Sipan, is a real find. Ask for room no. 14 with balcony overlooking the leafy street and a terrace through the trees where a would-be juggler practices with dedication. The best shops – arte etnico among them – are steps away. And one of BA’s hottest night spots, Casa Cruz, is just next door.
Even closer than CC is Sipan, a Peruvian fusion restaurant, that shares the hotel entrance. Have the wontons and octopus after one or more of their fabulous mixed drinks. If really hungry you can embarrass yourself with their Barco Sipan – a wooden carved and painted boat filled with fruits from the sea.