Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Texas company

Good family friends from Texas, Bill and Ann are in town so we've spent the last few evenings with them. Sunday afternoon we met for lunch in San Telmo at a lovely French bistro called Café Petanque – the owner squeezed his grinning little head into one of our photos. The café was packed and the food tasty. After a nearly three hour meal, we strolled the famous Sunday Antique Market along with thousands of other tourists and local wanderers. Usually a Sunday in San Telmo is one of the most pleasant ways to pass a weekend afternoon but the summer heat scorched the sidewalks and I wasn't the only one seeking shade more than deals. Thank god for the two hour sunday siesta ritual in our house!

Last night Bill and Ann invited us to a swanky place in Palermo Soho for dinner at a restaurant they had heard about called Casa Cruz. It reminded me very much of the hip, velvety cocktail lounges in San Francisco and New York filled with attractive yuppy couples and coiffed wait staff. For an added splash of sass, the bathrooms were designed so that men and women shared the mirror/sink area but went off to either the left or right to private bathrooms. Lots of confused looks and awkward glances and thoughts of "Oh my god, am I in the right place? Why am I touching up my lipstick next to some strange man washing his hands?" The menu offered such delicacies as Potato Foam, Essence of Truffle and Whispers of Asparagus Cream. I settled on the Patagonian Lamb ribs and ate well. Usually places that portend to be so fine, so gourmand, actually aren’t but this one was. We devoured the table. Ann and Bill picked a great wine that they recognized from their recent trip to the Mendoza wine region. It was a real treat for us. Our weekly routine includes eating out once or twice a week at most and usually at a small parrilla or pizza joint.

After dinner we took them to one of Argentinas famous tango dance halls aka Milongas – called Salon Canning. Our plan was to watch but I had a feeling Bill and Ann would be tempted to take their own twirl once we got inside (they had taken several lessons before coming). I caught a photo of the backs of their heads stepping forward to the dance floor with hesitation. Two seconds later they're bobbing, sashaying and chortling like teenagers at the senior prom. Hugh and I are working our way up to lessons. This was a close first step. The new tenants livng next door to us are a pleasant and interesting couple in from Hong Kong – here for four months to Tango and check out BA for a possible permanent move. She is a professional dancer and well known Tango teacher. Also a writer of Tango inspired poetry and drawings. He is a former professinal basketball teacher and I assume now retired. Tango next door?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tools of my new Trade

The past few weeks I've started giving private yoga lessons. I now have three regular students that each receive sessions twice a week at their homes. Needless to say, between travel to and fro, plus teaching my Tuesday and Friday night classes, writing and getting the daily chores around the house and caring for Utta done, my days are quite full. Tuesday morning I traveled to Nordelta (a sleepy suburb near Tigre) to give Astrid a private session on her peaceful deck overlooking the garden and the water. She lives in a huge two story house at the end of a cul-de-sac in a ritzy gated community 40 minutes north of Buenos Aires. She's eight months pregnant and last week we skipped a session because she started getting contractions. Her doctor told her she was 3 centimeters dilated but that as long as she felt ok, she could continue with yoga so we had another session this week. I created a modified series of Ashtanga postures focusing on the ones that open the hips and where she doesn't need to bend over or twist her middle. I teach the class in spanish and like to use a new CD of yogic mantras called Deva Primal.

My other new clients are a British gay couple who own a B&B in San Telmo. (according to them, San Telmo is the new "it" neighborhood") Its out of the way from where I live so I take a bus and get there in about 45 minutes. Because of the commute I charge them a bit more and offer a discount if they have sessions back to back. Also living there is a young woman who manages the property and helps out the guests. She is originally from LA and an advanced student. So, first I give a session to one of the men (the other is working up to starting yoga) and then to the young woman. We practice outside on the third story wooden deck (see pix above). It's noisy due to the proximity of the freeway but somehow the roar of the cars melts into the background once we start breathing and the wind picks up. They have a sweet dog that joins us and sits quietly nearby until the final resting pose (Savasana) when inevitably he gets up to give his owner a lick on the cheek. So, Monday and Wednesday afternoons I'm on the rooftop of the San Telmo B&B, Tuesday and Thursday mornings I am on Astrid's deck in Nordelta. It sure beats the hell out of staring at a computer all day in a forced air high rise...

I like to plan each individual session in advance at home. Sometimes I'll review postures from one of my yoga books to trigger ideas or look up a variation. Or I'll practice a sequence I learned at one of the four classes I take during the week. On the commute to the session I'll write the sequence down in a special notebook I keep for yoga. The act of writing it down helps me memorize it. Then I put it away and start the class without worrying about the ideas I may have developed earlier. What comes out is often a slight variation but more natural and relaxed. I am learning to trust myself and let the yoga flow through me like I do with writing. Also, invariably I have to adjust on the spot for something unplanned - student feels more/less tired than usual, too hot for lots of warm up poses, etc. The last minute changes and adjusting the class to fit that moment for that individual is the biggest challenge and the fun part too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

a roundup of maladies

A week ago Hugo broke his thumb in a boxing session with Mariano, his trainer. I guess its no surprise as the objective is to hurt the other person but still its an inconvenience and this morning I had to help him tie his shoe.

A month ago I developed a nasty cough/sore throat. I tried to wait it out but it persisted so after two and a half weeks of keeping myself, Hugh and the dog up with my hacking spasms, I relented and spent half a day at the hospital. They checked me for strep which I didn't have and sent me home with an antibiotic cough drop. One week later, no improvement so I returned - this time to a throat specialist who said I had both a virus and a bacterial infection. He gave me an antibiotic to take for 5 days (which usually I wouldn't take but we're going on a month now so I acquiesed). The sore throat and coughing cleared up and the thing moved into my upper chest. Now I sort of wheeze and choke up a mucusy substance a few times a day. lovely.

several of my argentine friends attribute this affliction to the rapid change in temperature. Living in a climate of extreme heat/cold/winds/tropical rains apparently leaves ones body more exposed to sniffles and sorts. My friend Magdalena advised me to keep my neck covered at all times - even in the summer as a preventative. This is what she does and to my knowledge she's fairly healthy. So, this white scarfy thing is my new practical accessory. Its surprisingly comfortable to wear even on the hottest days and I do feel I am protecting the vulnerable glandular region of my upper torso. I think its just my body adjusting to a new environment - next summer I may not need the protective scarf but it has a certain sass I like anyway.