Last week I took the leap for another solo travel adventure, this time to a unique and totally Argentine tango festival called ETI (Encuentro de Tangueros del Interior). ETI is special because it brings together hundreds of passionate tango dancers from around Argentina, and they are often friendlier than the tango dancers in Buenos Aires. They have incredible passion for this democratically organized festival and even have an “assembly” during the festival to discuss where the next one will be held. It’s democracy in action in tango and the celebration of life, unlike any tango festival in the world.
While ETI is spectacular, this was in many ways the worst travel experience of my life. At least in the top 3. That says a lot, as I have lived a lot of intense travel experiences in South America that I am chronicling in Wet.
The weekend was also outrageously good, rich in learning, dancing, and new people. Isn’t that the way? With the very worst often comes the very best, equal to our fortitude for both.
Here’s the story. I took the bus last Friday and arrived at Crillon Hotel and checked in at 5 pm. Fabulous.
The true adventure starts when the problems begin.
I didn’t bring my passport because I didn’t realize that was necessary. (I live in Buenos Aires, so this was domestic travel; if you’re in California and go to Nevada, for example, you don’t bring your passport.) The receptionist at Crillon Hotel told me he would let me into my room, but this might be a problem, he would have to talk to the manager. I went to dance in the square for the afternoon milonga.
When I got back, he told me there is a law in Argentine requiring foreigners to show their passports at hotels. I called the owner of my apartment and asked her to enter my apartment and take photos of the relevant pages of my passport. She kindly agreed and sent them on Whatsapp within an hour. The manager accepted these, and let me go to my room. I cried tears of relief. Half an hour later, he called my room and told me I would have to leave. He looked at me with eyes that said, It’s not my fault, don’t hate me. It was a cruel act.
At 10 am on a Friday night they threw me out on the street and there were no hotel rooms available in the whole city because of the festival. (I knew the hotels were all booked because the day before I called ten hotels in order to get a single room reservation. This exuberant ETI festival drew 900 people to a relatively small city Rio Cuarto in Cordoba.) I was all alone.
I took a cab to the ETI Festival with my suitcase to talk to the organizers. The woman organizing the festival said I could stay with her but she was obviously harried since she was in charge of an event for 900 people. I sat down, drained, glum, on the verge of tears. I didn’t have the energy to stand in line for a Coke, and I was desperate with thirst and needed sugar.
Fifteen minutes later a man asked me to dance. I said yes, knowing I needed to shake myself out of this defeated state. During the dance I started crying. I couldn’t help it. Tango music is emotional, and I was emotional; the tears just flowed. He asked what was wrong, and I explained the situation.
After our tanda (four dances) Angel led me to his girlfriend Nora. Nora turned out to be my heroine. She called and networked for the next two hours and miraculously procured me a hotel room at a place that would allow me to stay with images of my passport. I spent the rest of this weekend in a comfortable bed in my own room and with this amazing table of women and men. They were fantastic, fun, warm and caring, and they saved me. I felt loved. They’re my new friends in Buenos Aires now.
As my friend Sue said to me later, “So glad you cried and allowed yourself to be with your true feelings instead of stuffing them down during that dance. And then to see what transpired from it.” In fact, I’ve never been able to hide my feelings and I’ve gotten more comfortable with crying ever these days. Hallelujah for the release of tears.
Perseverance pays off.
The weekend was incredible. A true celebration of life. Nine hundred people of all ages dancing for hours and hours. I danced until 6 am two nights in a row, and I do not do this in Buenos AIres, even though that’s common. I met so many wonderful new people. Perseverance pays off to experience magical moments. I want to recognize the organizers too. Valentina and Martin, and Valentina who got me a special gluten-free meal for every meal because I am a celiac. This was absolutely spectacular and also made me feel loved.
When my mother heard about what happened, she said, “I’m glad those folks came to your rescue. ‘The kindness of strangers’ is very heartwarming. It isn’t expected so it feels like a gift.” I wonder why we don’t expect it more. If anything, I think that’s the lesson–to venture forth and trust fellow human beings will help us when we really need help.
Now I am back in Buenos Aires, appreciating a quiet moment before August, when the city will be abuzz for the Mundial, the world tango festival.
For those you who are ready for an adventure, albeit one with a hotel room!!!
The AUGUST 15-22 TANGO ADVENTURE in BUENOS AIRES is a month away!
This Tangasm Adventure, a 7-day immersion in learning tango and tango as a metaphor for your life, is going to be special because it’s smack dab in the middle of the Mundial, the biggest tango festival in Buenos Aires with the world championship and energy from around the world. However, you won’t have to worry about the hotel room because we have that set for you. It’s going to be an incredible time to experience tango in Buenos Aires, so if this moves you, click HERE to fill out this form and let’s get you here.
Here’s what Megan Cramer who came in March said, “Every day has been a great mix of dancing and connection. I learned a lot about being a good follower on the dance floor. I learned about relaxing, relaxing my body, relaxing my thoughts, just being able to go with the flow of what’s happening. If you want to have a full-body-mind-and-soul experience that fills your five senses and even your sixth sense because you have to sense things happening around you come on this tango adventure.”
Wanna dance? Click HERE to join us!