Thursday, 10 February 2011

Chacabuco 1181 and roof life

I am here on the terrace of Fabrizio's in Chacabuco, San Telmo. It is really the roof rather than a terrace, with terracotta tiles which soak up the late morning sun and radiate soft light. Liberally and strategically placed across the roof are large tubs containing plants and trees, some reaching up to 15 feet in height, positioned to make bowers of green and gold. The sparrow now hops from tree to bower and descends to the terrace long enough to inspect the small trail of ants that carry fragments of leaves shredded from an nearby plant. He spots Astor, Fabrizio's cat and flutters to the safety of a cypress.



After last night in this very place on the terrace, where Fabrizio entertained a handful of his departing Australian dance students with many handfuls of empanadas and more bottles of wine, an event which he generously asked me to join, I am sensing a leisurely day in which I fancy doing nothing but sitting, watching and writing. It seems that have much opportunity. Fabrizio is providing entertainment on the next stage of the roof, inspecting and maintaining his creation. It is a solar water system, that appears to involve many meters of pipework, threaded with plastic water bottles to create polytunnels to heat the water as it returns to the roof-top tank. How ingenious, and costing a fraction of the commercial price, which would of course be un-affordable here. Whilst he works, I sit and sip my fresh coffee, glancing up to experience the return of Delphine, young, beautiful, fresh and French, wearing a simple black dress that shows her youthful figure. She edits films in Paris and has taken four months away to dance tango, learn Castillano, perform yoga, party and sleep. On meeting, curiously I feel at home in her company. We sit together and chat, in French and in English. And then she departs for her Spanish class, I exhale and catch Fabrizio's watching eye. My coffee is now cold, but I still find it strangely warming.

At the end of the terrace is a simple summer house, constructed in plywood with a plastic sheet roof. This is Fabrizio's summer home, from which he will return to the house as the autumn draws in and the guests leave. Vanessa is a midwife, but presents as a 19 year old college girl with a winning smile. Not speaking English, our short conversations are entirely visual with smiles and gestures. She dances Zouk, and Fabrizio is the reigning Zouk king. Perhaps before I leave, tempted with sufficient bottles of Malbec, we may be able to persuade them to dance an exhibition for us? Here on the roof, anything seems to be possible.

Those of you who followed my previous blogs will remember Iguassu. Yes, you principally know it as the world famous waterfalls that dramatically separate Argentina from Brasil, but I know it as the terrace waterfall, six feet in height, built in layered slate. As I sit, water cascades its full length into the circular lily pond beneath. In the proportions of the terrace, it is a dramatic feature, and one in which now my sparrow delights as it bathes and drinks the cool, clear water flowing from a ledge. Like the true Iguassu it now separates the sparrow from the cat. Squinting at it through reflected sunlight, it has the character of a ecological mountain down which disparate streams flow, to join, separate, and fall before disappearing into the lily pool.

I now pull myself together and back to the present. Which stream of life shall I follow today? Will it involve tango? Will it take me to dance, to join and separate at the end of a tanda, fall and eventually disappear into the pool of life? Like so much here in Buenos Aires, the answer arrives as the question is asked. My Galaxy tab tings and I have one message: "Meet at Club Gricel tonight, La Rioja 1180, dancing til dawn, Suzie"