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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

...Argentina Pink "Where Borges Wrote of a Labyrinth"

Twenty years have passed. August 2004. Since I descended into that magical world of fog and rain. Not at all what I imagined my first South America journey to be. Where is that southern sun? And yet exactly. Traveling from summer to winter. From New York City to Buenos Aires. The cool moisture outside the airport seen alive from inside the airport's panoramic windows. Welcoming me. To a city from my childhood dreams. My shirt was baby blue. Like their flag.

Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) once wrote of "mirrors, mazes, and swords" within his mystical homeland. The father of literary magical realism. Just as painter Pablo Picasso and his visual surrealism. For one week in 2004 I entered Jorge's beautiful labyrinth. Puerto Madero. La Boca. La Casa Rosada. And El Obelisco.

On the first day, I remember the sidewalks. Not red cobblestone. Instead teeny white squares. My hopscotch crossword puzzle. As I searched for words. "Commit this rainy stroll to memory. Remember this dream. What is a ten-letter word for being immersed in beauty? Answer: ENCHANTING." My black New York-y umbrella flapping in the rain and wind. So gray.

On the second day, the sun came out. Swords of rain stopping their vertical gravity pull. Instead a taste of spring. As I walked along the water. The coast of Uruguay seen across. A stone's throw. Swanky shops surrounding me on the boardwalk. And soccer players running on green turf. Wonderful. Miraculous. Right beside la Casa Rosada. The Pink House. Their main federal building. GOOOOOOOLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!! What deep national love for "the beautiful game."

Then the houses at La Boca were orange and blue. Forever bright. An homage to Italian immigrants. Surrealist Picasso would approve. Then el Obelisco afterhours was hugely tall. White needle. Or sword? And the wide avenue below it grew wider, and wider, in my imagination. As cars zoomed past. Their white lights shimmering on the palm trees. Once obscured in night's ebony. Charming. Frenetic. Earth's widest street. I've seen it.

Inside the hotel, after a week of publishing sales at our convention, I was content. Work accomplished by day. And weeknights at restaurants that were draped in red wine and steak. Enveloped. I had entered the labyrinth. Where Borges wrote of "mirrors, mazes, and swords." But this mammoth city had not lost me. It was rich, full, and romantic. This Paris of South America. I loved it.

On the final day, I looked in the mirror. Flat reflection my electric wonder. And I simply said, "Thank you." I had lived out my fantasy. Seen in a slumber between pages. Far, far away in my high school English classes. Far, far away in my college Spanish classes, too. Miles and hemispheres crossed. Altitudes popping my eardrums. Pack gum for this journey. My first passport stamp in South America. I was writing my own book. In gratitude. And it was suffused in winsome pink. Gracias, Sr. Borges.



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