Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The beautiful stillness of the Dutch winter

 (si prefieres leer este post en español, por favor sigue este enlace)

Once again I spent the Christmas holiday in the Netherlands, far from Argentina, summer heatwaves, and (sadly) from my family. But it was not as bad as it probably sounds - spending Christmas in the Netherlands always gives me the chance to pay more attention to the surroundings and to enjoy the beautiful winter landscapes in and around Zwolle.

In the winter the stillness in the air is overwhelming - even the birds are silenced, except for the geese when they fly off at sunset. The crisp cold air makes your cheeks glow and the bones of your face hurt until your eyes well up with tears. Still, once you manage to open your eyes wide enough, winter in the Netherlands rewards you with fairytale pictures like these I captured on the Zalkerdijk on Christmas Day and in the Milligerplas in Zwolle on Sunday.

A view of the Elektrakabel and ABN-AMRO buildings on the right from the Zalkerdijk and across the frozen waters of the river IJssel.

A solitary sheep grazing in the frozen pastures of a farm, near Zalk, outside Zwolle.

The sun is almost ready to set on Christmas Day.

Geese flying over the Milligerplas in Zwolle.

Feathery reeds waving in the icy cold breeze over the Milligerplas.

The sun gives a timid silvery light to the water and the snow in the Milligerplas.

The stillness is broken, though, when you get close to one of the many frozen canals in the neighbourhood and find children having lots of fun skating or sledding on the ice.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas - Córdoba style...

At home, we keep Christmas traditions from both sides of the Atlantic.

During my recent stay in my home town in Argentina I had the opportunity to attend a concert given by a singer who is originally from Córdoba: Jairo. Born as Mario González in the north of my province (Córdoba, same name as my city), he became known in the 70s but his career started actually in Spain, not Argentina. His fame increased on both sides of the Atlantic and became quite popular, composing and interpreting songs about everyday life and things. Along his career he has sung, among others, to Argentinean foremost writer, Jorge Luis Borges and to the maximum tango legend, Carlos Gardel. He also performed in some of the most famous theatres around the world, including the Olympia in Paris. 

As a sample of the recital we attended that evening and to warm up our souls for Christmas, I am posting here two songs by Jairo: Carpintería José (it means, "Joseph's Carpentry Shop" and tells the story of the Nativity with Joseph being a regular man who is about to become a father) and the Ave Maria, which he sang in French and in Spanish - the last part without using a mike, so that the audience could appreciate the great  accoustics of the Liberador Theatre of Córdoba. Enjoy!!

Source: YouTube

Made with my smartphone @ Teatro del Libertador, Córdoba.

Have a beautiful Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas Day, everyone!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town

 (Si prefieres leer esta entrada en español, por favor sigue este enlace)

Today I want to share with you a video I received as Christmas greetings from my friend Nicolás. Besides admiring his ability on the rollers and his excellent physical condition, in it you also get to see different sights of his city: Rosario. Here is the video:

Rosario is the third most important city in Argentina, after Buenos Aires and Córdoba -my city- which is the second largest. I couldn't resist mentioning this piece of information, since it has been a long standing tradition for residents of Rosario and Córdoba to argue which of the two cities is the second largest in the country... 

At some point during the video, you get to see big silos or grain containers painted in diffferent colours. These old silos have been restored and today they house the MACRO - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) of Rosario. I visited the MACRO in 2008 during my holidays in Argentina and here is the photo I took of the curious building: 

The old grain silos house today the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rosario.

In future posts I will be showing you more places in Rosario, a city I like a lot despite not being as beautiful as my home town, Córdoba (ehem!).

Monday, 20 December 2010

Every silence comes to an end ...

(si prefieres leer este post en español, sigue este enlace).

Maybe you have been lately throwing little stones at my window, trying to draw my attention, wondering where I was?

Little Stones at my Window

Once in a while
joy throws little stones at my window
it wants to let me know that it's waiting for me
but today I'm calm
I'd almost say even-tempered
I'm going to keep anxiety locked up
and then lie flat on my back
which is an elegant and comfortable position
for receiving and believing news

who knows where I'll be next
or when my story will be taken into account
who knows what advice I still might come up with
and what easy way out I'll take not to follow it

don't worry, I won't gamble with an eviction
I won't tattoo remembering with forgetting
there are many things left to say and suppress
and many grapes left to fill our mouths

don't worry, I'm convinced
joy doesn't need to throw any more little stones
I'm coming
I'm coming.

Mario Benedetti

Well, little stones or not, I have been away from The Netherlands and away from my blog for two long months, and to go on quoting Latin American poets, "every silence comes to an end"*, so here I am!

These are some of the places where I have been and the things and people I have seen:

Hopefully, I will be telling you about these places, things and people in future posts. Now you can stop throwing little stones at my window - I am back!