These last few months of the semester have been a rough ride for me. The “end” is in sight, but I’m drawing on those last stores of energy to get through. I cannot wait to be with my family and spend time in the mountains over break. Betwixt such daydreams and the next installment of my Ph.D. Reading List and corresponding rationale . . .

Today is National Day of Tango (Día Nacional del Tango) in Buenos Aires, honoring two of Argentina’s greats: Carlos Gardel and Julio de Caro. I’ve been listening to “Volver” and “Por una cabeza” all morning. I hope you’ll join me.


“Luthier” by Kevin T. Allan

Description below in the words of the director, taken from the video:

Raul Orlando Perez lives deep in the mountains of Patagonia. He crafted his first instrument in 1962. He thinks of his work as a sort of re-creation, a form of alchemy, transforming natural materials into living, breathing instruments. A well-crafted instrument is not only defined by the age, treatment and construction of its materials, but it also continues to grow and adapt with use. In 2009, I brought him a door salvaged from my family home lost to fire. He transformed it into a beautiful handcrafted flamenco guitar.

This has got to be Italy’s most unsung-but-deserving city! Has anyone heard of it? I’m sure there are people who have heard about Bergamo, but when I think of Italy, it’s not the first (or even fifth) city that comes to mind. Nonetheless, Bergamo is a lovely place that is easily accessible and navigable — you’ll see why this is important in a minute.

The town itself is divided into upper and lower cities, the Città Alta and the Città Bassa. To access the upper part, one takes the bus up to the edge of the walled city. Here one “could” walk up to the very top . . . or one has a ticket for the funiculare (cable car) and enjoys the view as it climbs the slope. There are two cable cars, and I recommend being sure to catch the second one as it takes you to Bergamo San Vigilio, and a spectacular view of both the Città Alta and the Città Bassa.

Starting at the top and working our way down, we walked around everywhere! It was sort of fun to make a random turn and see where we ended up. We arrived in the middle of some fair, as the Piazza Vecchia was filled with booths and tables of information on activities and health. Nearby, the Cappella Colleoni and Santa Maria Maggiore were a sight to see with black, rose, and white marble façades.

The churches were filled with amazing works of art . . .  the streets were full of people. The Rocca di Bergamo provided a nice lookout and a resting place.  We took the cable car down to the lower city and walked around, saw a sustainability fair (way to go Bergamo!), and then decided to ride the bus back to the Città Alta. 

As our luck would have it, there was a traditional music festival in the old plaza. I was mesmerized by the guy playing the ghironda, so when a bagpiper also took the stage I was hookedThe best part was that the people began to dance — all sorts of traditional dances — from the first song to the last. Young and old, whether the moves were familiar or not, the people were having a blast! I couldn’t help but think it a shame that we don’t have a dance like that in the states where everyone can participate. (Or do we? The chicken dance and the electric slide don’t count, but please feel free to offer other suggestions.)

All in all, I had a lovely time in Italy and bid it a fond farewell. Before moving onto the next stage of summer, I leave you with these words of wisdom from someone that continues to learn things the hard way: do not sleep overnight in the airport, as it is neither affords you sleep, nor is it worth the piddly amount of money you saved. You and your travel partner(s) can become grumpy. You’re also sure to be sleep deprived and might kick the other (unintentionally) as you adjust your position on the floor . . . which you share with a mass of people. It’s ugly. Don’t claim a moment of memory lapse and do it again next year. Just. Say. No.

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