Baja Blue

Baja Blue
Bluetrue sky of the Korokoro Hills

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Brazil: O Pais Do Amor e Magia

Brazil is, truly, a dazzling beauty.  With 60% of the Amazon rainforest, 1/3 of the world's unique species, more than 2,000 beaches and iconic natural and man-made wonders such as Iguazu Falls, the magnificent statue of Christ the Redeemer, exuberant Carnival, sultry boss nova, the iconic Copacabana, Ipanema and hundreds of other beaches, and endless other wonders, Brazil's beauty and diversity surprises and delights.

We were blessed to spend time in Florianopolis, and were awed by its more than 40 beautiful beaches, and the serene beauty of Campeche beach, ("our beach"), during "the blue hour".  In Curitiba, we enjoyed the beautiful gardens and extraordinary art in the Oscar Niemeyer Museum.  In Salvador, the centre of Afro-Brazilian culture in Bahia state, we wandered the cobblestone streets of Pelhourinho, stood slack-jawed in the baroque beauty of  Convento Sao Francisco, and absorbed the pulsing energy of the batuque drums on "Music Tuesday".  And in beautiful Rio, we gazed in awe at the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the sun and life of Copacabana and Ipanema, and the heart-rending view of the city beneath a pink-blue-mauve mist from our perch on Sugarloaf Mountain.

In Brazilian Journal, the memoir of her time in Brazil, poet P.K. Page asked: "Does place alter person?  Its like falling in love -- with the country itself."  And Designer Francisco Costa said: "Brazil is not what you see, but what you feel."  For us, Brazil's most dazzling beauty was this: the lovingkindness shown to us by wonderful Brazilian people who welcomed us warmly, generously shared their homes and life with us, and are now cherished friends, who we "feel with our hearts".

Here's to appreciating and savouring beauty, wherever we are blessed to find it, and treasuring the greatest beauty of all: love, and "the dissolving boundaries of our narrow human self."

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Buenos Aires: El Tango, La Vida

In Buenos Aires "poetry came in search of us".  We fell in love with our serene pied-a-terre in the heart of Recoleta, and spent hours strolling the tree-lined streets, wandering among the beautiful tombs and walkways of Recoleta Cemetary, and watching the world go by from cozy caf├ęs.  But it was the inimitable tango -- the pulse of Buenos Aires itself -- that taught us the lessons that Buenos Aires had to teach.

One rainy evening, we took a tango lesson at El Beso, and later learned that our beautiful and very patient instructor was none other than the marvellous Maria Plazaola, final partner of the late, great Carlos Gavita.  That experience was a lesson in grace, awe and humility.  But another tango experience had even more significant lessons to teach.

On a blustery Sunday, on our way up the stairs to the tango matinee at the famed tango dance hall La Confiteria Ideal, we paused out of respect behind an elderly gentleman struggling to walk up the stairs, and then gasped in amazement to see him glide with ease across the dance floor when the music began; a lesson in both passion and perseverance.  But life in Buenos Aires -- where to live is to tango, and tango just might save your life -- is like that.

Martha Graham once said: "Dance is the hidden language of the soul"; and, in the late-night milongas still active all over Buenos Aires, portenos wear their souls on their sleeves.

In honour of Buenos Aires, here's to living, really living, to discovering the hidden language of our souls, and to dancing, even when we don't think we can.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Chasing Neruda: Chile's Pure Poetry

Stretched between the Andes and blue Pacific, Chile is a country of soaring contrasts.  From the faded elegance and history of Santiago to Valparaiso's candy colours and shipping-container corrugated metal; from the salt plains of the Atacama Desert to the lush vineyards of Vina Del Mar and astonishing beauty of Patagonia -- at times, it seems as though "it is all here".

For us, Chile was, first and foremost, the birthplace and home of Pablo Neruda -- the land of "kisses and volcanos"-- the country that (eventually) loved its poet, whose poet loved it.

No trip to Chile would for us be complete without making a pilgrimage to Neruda's Santiago, Valparaiso and country homes; so, making the pilgrimage to La Chascona, La Sebastiana and Isla Negra we went.  And, though Neruda's homes, more than most, reflect the peculiarities and eccentricities of their owner, they also contain much that reflects Chile itself -- unique treasures, contrasting settings, shapes and styles, and a peaceful, eternal reference to and reflection of the sea.

Neruda famously said that "poetry came in search of him"; recognizing the poetry in these places, with Isla Nedra his favourite, he said: “Bury me at Isla Negra/in front of the sea I know, in front of every wrinkled place/of rocks and waves that my lost eyes/will never see again.”

Here's to having poetry come in search of us; and, whether that be the case, or not, to find it -- in ourselves, in the people we love, and in our cherished corners of this beautiful world.