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Buenos Aires, Argentina
November 8, 2005

Puerto Madero Buenos Aires © Marga Fabbri


In this week's Alert:

  • Hitler and Kisses for Everyone by Mark McMahon
  • AdventureView: Marga Fabbri, Fill the Pool and Jump In!
  • Photos from Buenos Aires

Hitler and Kisses For Everyone
by Mark McMahon

Everyone kisses everyone. Casual acquaintances from eight months ago greet me with enthusiasm and affection. The staff at my favorite cafés. The young dog walker. At the flower stand. When friends introduce friends here, there are kisses all around, kisses for everyone! Such a delight, I love it!

I am back in Buenos Aires, the neighborhood where I wrote big chunks of my forthcoming book, Driving To The End Of The World. I am here for a couple of reasons: a frequent flyer award ticket about to expire, a last-ditch effort to sell Blanco Billy, my '78 Toyota Land Cruiser, and a free apartment waiting for me. (As if I need an excuse to come and enjoy the world-class food and ambiance at one-third U.S. prices.)

As luck would have it, I arrived here the same day as another notable North-American. (At the very least, I consider myself noteworthy.) The other notable is none other than George W. Bush. I don't think he is here for the kisses. One could only hope. He is here for the Summit of the Americas, to discuss free trade and other such official matters.

At my favorite empanada shop (empanadas are a pastry baked with meat or cheese inside) I discussed the presidential visit with the proprietor of the shop. We had never met before and we exchanged opinions without him knowing that I was from the U.S. (My Spanish is certainly not good enough to be mistaken for a local, but good enough that people assume I am not American.) "He is the boss, the king of the world." He said sarcastically. "Kirchner (their President) is only his Secretary. He shows up and we must close down our streets. Who pays for this? Not him." About 7000 security and police personnel are on duty for the visit.

The shopkeeper expressed his dismay for the abysmal human rights record of the Bush administration and— without sarcasm— compared Bush to Hitler! His opinion comes from a culture that is not a stranger to totalitarian forms of government. (To read my previous entry about Argentina's Dirty War of the 70's click here, or google: Argentina's Dirty War)

Is the Hitler comparison really such a stretch? Can you blame the shopkeeper for his viewpoint? Right now our Vice-President is lobbying his ass off to retain the right to torture citizens of other nations. And really, not just other nations. A U.S. citizen in the wrong place at the wrong time could be assigned the classification of "enemy combatant" and be fair game for a CIA torture chamber. You think I am paranoid? This scenario is far-fetched? Google Jennifer Harbury and read about her search to find information about her husband who "disappeared" in Guatemala.

Oh, but I started off so sweetly. How did I stray so far away from kissing?? Can't help it now. I'm on a roll. I spent a few days in the San Francisco Bay Area on my way here and I had Cheney on the brain. I was the guest of my pal; faithful readers will remember Señor Eh-Scott in Berkeley. He showed me to his rooftop deck where he proudly surveyed his solar panels that provide ALL OF THE POWER FOR HIS HOUSE and then some. This is not toasty Tucson or even sunny Southern Cal but cool, often cloudy, by-the-bay Berkeley!

I flashed on my very first and startling recollection of Cheney on TV. He was being interviewed on a news program and the topic was oil and energy. When asked about alternative energy sources he utterly dismissed them. "They are just not practical." I was stunned. Shocked in fact, that someone with such limited vision could actually be leading the country.

Mind you, this was sometime during his first term as V.P., and prior to my political awakening which occurred over the course of my 2 1/2 year drive through Latin America. The editing of the book about my drive is still not quite done. But the very thin political thread throughout the book is thickening as I sadly learn more and more about the underhanded interventions of the U.S. in Latin American affairs.

But it is a beautiful day in Buenos Aires, with gorgeous springtime weather. And it's such a shame that I am distracted from all the kissing by torture and human rights violations.


Marga Fabbri
Fill the pool and jump in!

by Mark McMahon

Every time I have been to Buenos Aires I have visited the Recoleta Arts and Crafts Fair at Plaza Francia near the Famous (and FOR the famous) Recoleta Cemetery. The Fair is open every weekend and features a huge variety of arts and crafts, plus some wonderfully eclectic entertainment. I met Marga Fabbri there on my very first visit. We have been friends ever since, enjoying discussions on the nature of life, work, and art, while hanging out on the lawn across from her paintings. This visit she proudly announced that she had finally quit her day job! Hmm, I thought, this most certainly warrants an AdventureView.

[Translated from Spanglish]

Mark for LiveYourAdventure: Congratulations!
Marga Fabbri: [With a huge smile] Thank you so much!

LYA: How long did you study architecture?
MF: For 12 years.

LYA: You mean 12 years studying and working?
MF: No, 12 years of study and certifications. That included a one-year exchange program in Brazil doing a restoration project on an old church.

Towers © Marga Fabbri

LYA: How was that?
MG: It was the best! I learned to speak Portuguese and started my first oil-on-canvas paintings. An incredible experience culturally. A very small town, such a contrast to growing up in Buenos Aires!

And work after your schooling?
MF: About five years. I worked on a few projects and also worked in research at my school. But I did not enjoy working in the profession as much as the schooling. I always knew that I wanted to draw. Architecture seemed like a good way to go about it.

LYA: So you don’t regret the schooling?
MG: Oh no. My personal style developed from my training. It is who I am. I love architecture. I just don’t like the work! [laughs]

LYA: Did you do much art before architecture school?
MF: Yes. My grandfather was my first art teacher. When I was only 6 years old! He was a sculptor and a professor at an art college.

LYA: I love the bright colors in your art, the whimsical style, but you can still really feel the architecture.
MF: My current style has developed over the past 4 years. I first started selling black-and- white drawings.

LYA: So what’s up with the cat?
MF: That’s Tomas. He hangs out with me while I draw, so he ends up in most of my pieces. My little trademark.

Marga with some of her work

LYA: So you are happy with your new status, unemployed?
[Laughs] I am the happiest when I am drawing. The happiness goes into my paintings. I sell much more than my competitors here. [Looks around to see that none can hear her, then speaks more quietly.] People don’t want darkness and depression on the walls of their home. My customers say my work makes them happy. I believe that my paintings transmit my happiness to them. It’s a great feeling! Happiness while I work and then again, back from my customers.

LYA: So you made the jump eight months ago. What finally triggered the decision?
MF: Well, I made the decision two years before the jump. I spent that time preparing for the jump.

LYA: Tell me about that.
MF: It was kind of like bouncing on a diving board over an empty pool! If you can imagine… I filled the pool up myself as I built up my confidence. I had to jump before it was completely full, but when I landed, all of the water was there!

LYA: So no regrets? How did it feel?
MF: It was liberation! Freedom! My spirit was much lighter.

Villa Devoto © Marga Fabbri

LYA: And the future?
MF: I want to travel and teach drawing. I have one student now! I want to travel to other cities to paint and sell my work.

LYA: So your new profession is very portable?
MF: Yes of course! Most everything I need is in my mind.

LYA: What advice do you have for someone considering the jump?
MF: Sadly, I think that many people never discover what they are meant to do in life, what will make them truly happy. But I think it is there if you look carefully and listen. It was difficult listening to that little voice inside telling me what to do. But it is worth it, believe me. I struggled with it for 3 or 4 years. I thought I could do both. But it was a lie.

I just kept painting and painting and building my confidence. Filling the pool!

(But really just the beginning...)

To read Marga's website and see more of her art, click here.

Photos from Buenos Aires

All this for less than a Big Mac!


Mannequin Band. One is a real person...

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