The Beautiful Street

BsAs

My Teacher

Katie JanovecComment
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While living in Argentina, making friends became one of my main priorities, not only because (duh) it gets lonely without friends, but because I wanted to speak Spanish!  In my experience, the Spanish teacher often becomes a friend, because I'm sharing life with them, and they with me.  I'm butchering their Spanish language, and they're deciphering my Spanish verbal code...you get the idea.  So, I'm paying you to teach me Spanish and receiving basic human needs of connection and validation?  Great, I'll take it! I spent the last few months learning from Carolina, going to her house, drinking mate, and forming a friendship with this lovely lady.  After having class 2 or 3 times a week for 2 ½ months, we definitely covered a broad range of life topics.  You know those days when you are abroad alone and have the day free but wait, you have a Spanish class later?  Yep, sometimes the Spanish class saved me mentally.

So clearly she was the perfect candidate for me to conduct my first Spanish interview. (I then translated it to English.)

This is Carolina Dalmastro.  My Spanish teacher and knitting extraordinaire.

When did you begin to knit?

I began when I was a little girl with my mother and grandma. I tried it again in high school but because I was left-handed, I quit for a while. My mother discovered a new technique that allowed me to knit left-handed and I began to learn again.

When did you begin to teach Spanish?

I began to teach Spanish in a school in 2012.

Was there a moment when you realized that you could be your own boss?

It was an idea that was growing with time. After I finished school, I was working in an office and realized it was not for me. I worked a 9-5 job and then after work would give knitting or Spanish classes in my home. I was very tired in the beginning.

When did you begin to teach Spanish and knit as your job?

In 2013, I began to teach Spanish at home and sell items such as mittens and cowls for family and friends. I had two students in the beginning and the following year, more students joined.

How do you find your students?

I find most of my Spanish and knitting students through recommendations from other students. I like when travelers live here for more time because then I can pass on cultural phrases, recommend places that I know—things specific to Buenos Aires.

Why did you begin to dye wool?

I began dying wool in 2014, because I had three options for colors. I spent a lot of time researching how to dye other colors.

What do you use to dye wool?

I use vegetables, spices, and dried cochonilla.  Cochonilla is exported from Chile and makes a beautiful red color.  Also I use a mordiente, so the color will stay.

What do you enjoy making?

Sweaters, but they are not easy to sell. Stocking caps, because I can change colors, textures, and I get to see the end product quickly.

Is it difficult to have a passion for knitting when it is your profession?

When there is a deadline or a project for another person, it becomes work. It is also difficult when I am sick and I can’t work, or something such as this. There is more pressure when you are your own boss—it is your work and livelihood. But, it is much better than being in an office.

Do you know other people that give knitting classes in Buenos Aires?

It is common in (yarn stores) but with an older generation. Out of ten yarn stores, two offer knitting classes, while the others focus on crocheting. My students are all in there 20s or 30s and the majority are women. They knit as a hobby for their children or boyfriends.

What are you desires for the future?

I would like to go to Iceland and learn different knitting techniques. The children learn knitting in school when they are young.  It is very much apart of the culture.  Also, I’d like to go to Peru or Ecuador because there is so much knitting history and they use indigenous colors.  While Peru and Iceland are across the world from each other, they have a technique that looks quite similar.  The idea is to travel while working and be able to mix the two.

Check her out at Soy Sauce - Laboratorio de Lanas

Carolina, what a pleasure to spend time with you, and I look forward to your future endeavors.

Holydays

Katie JanovecComment
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This morning I woke up thinking about the influential women in my life, and specifically in Argentina. So FIRST, I want to give a shout-out to Eva Perón.

Eva Perón, or Evita, was a women's rights activist, actress, and the first lady in 1946.  She grew up in poverty and fought for woman's suffrage and for the impoverished.  She was a well respected figure then, and now.  Recently, her photo was printed on the peso, which in our day and age shows true respect, right?  But yes, she is revered here for sure.

So how does Evita work into my life?  One, I believe she is a woman we should all know about and two, Monday was a holiday in which the nation celebrated independence--not women's independence but still, it got me thinking.  Seventy years ago she was fighting for ladies like ME.

Many Argentines celebrate holidays by you know, celebrating and partying.  But due to my tooth extraction on Friday, I just wasn't up for my typical Sunday nights at Makena.  It is usually the one night of the week I am sure to find other dancers getting down, but I chose to rest (which my body so needs right now).  I instead slept, and joined my friend, Isa, Monday morning to begin my day with Reusi Da Ton (just learned how to spell that one).

"Reusi Da Ton is an ancient Thai self care practice that incorporates meditation, self massage, range of motion exercises, breath work, stretches and exercises."

I felt blessed to begin my day with three other ladies and [Bonus!] I was able to understand almost all of the conversation.  Whew!  Following the practice I spent the day with Isa.  I connected with Isa through my super amazing buddy, Jess.  They met in Thailand in February and both are Thai massage therapists.  Once Isa returned to Argentina we connected, and I have so appreciated having her as a friend here.  She is always quick to laugh at my language mishaps and tell me to chill out.  Thanks girl!  And [Bonus!], it is special to have Jess across the world and still be able to share in a somewhat mutual experience with her.

So there is my holyday, and a little Evita thrown in.

Solitude

Katie JanovecComment
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Happy Monday!  I hope you had a nice weekend.  Here is a quick reflection of mine. I spent much of Saturday afternoon walking, looking at art, eying potential gifts, mentally reworking my budget, and snapping photos of the city things that I had yet to capture.  I reveled in the joy of being outside on a perfect fall day, and gave thanks that I could actually walk around in really flat shoes for 4 hours.  (What?!)  This is unheard of.

While I've struggled with embracing or fleeing loneliness and solitude in my Argentina stay, I felt very calm strolling through familiar and unfamiliar streets.  Perhaps, it is because my free days will shortly be filled up (I somehow managed to score a job in Portland, that I'm totally stoked about).  Or, I'd like to think that I'm tired of fearing loneliness and struggling to escape my thoughts.  At some moment it becomes frustrating to feel frustrated, and at that point, I just accept that I am human and give myself a break.

***Goal for this week: Keep it a little more silly***

A woman photographing women

Katie JanovecComment
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I cannot believe it is already Thursday!  Today, I woke up thinking about home in Portland, Oregon.  My thoughts have started to shift stateside as I will be returning home in two weeks.  The time is quickly approaching and I can't believe it.  I am so thankful for my time here in Buenos Aires, AND I'm looking forward to a summer with my friends.  I did check the weather today and saw that it is warmer here.  Still winning! Today, I'm going to focus on a photo exposition that I stumbled upon last weekend.  My friend, Sorcha (pronounced Circa) and I decided to go to the botanical gardens.  I had passed this park multiple times on foot, in bus, and actually, my yoga studio is across the street from the garden.  Regardless, I had never entered other then to step through the gate and sit on a bench for a few minutes.

Upon arrival, we saw a band playing and people milling about.  After determining that the entrance was in fact behind (or just to the side) of the band, we entered the building and look what I found.

(a Black H'mong woman living in Vietnam)

A photo exposition focusing on women.

Perfect.

Mirjam Letsch is a photographer from Amsterdam that travels the world capturing people through photography.  In this specific exposition, she focuses on women from India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Salta and Jujuy, Argentina.  And, another great side note is that she created the Duniya Foundation, which provides accessibility to healthcare and education in a northern Indian city.  Recently, Duniya also began working in Vietnam.

!Qué bien!

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This is a woman in a village in Jujuy, Argentina, spinning wool while walking in the street.

Those green eyes though, from the Thar Desert in India.

Of course, besides the photo expo, there was a botanical garden and a rather large park that we strolled around in.  I wanted to post a picture of myself in the garden, but they really were terrible, so I'll keep working on my photography skills.

In the meantime, here's a view of the park.

One can (almost) escape the city of Buenos Aires.

#niki #hiphop

DanceKatie JanovecComment
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As I'm slowly getting the hang of this blogging thing I one, really enjoy it and two, find that I need more time to prepare my stories/interviews.  So while I have future posts in the works, today I will do a bit of a throw back to that one time I took a hip hop class from Niki Awandee. Do you know her?  If you are a dancer, possibly.  If not, not so likely.

This lady is a hip hop dancer from Sweden with a light-hearted, but vibrant energy.  She is a member of Soul Sweat Crew and is well known for winning (with her partner, Martha)  Juste Debout Hip Hop World Championship in 2011. But since then has continued growing, battling, and teaching internationally.  She was part of a dance camp in Uruguay and local dancers in the Buenos Aires Beat Crew were able to get her over here to Argentina to teach a class (Uruguay and Argentina are a quick boat ride away, btw).

(Now what am I doing in this photo?;)

The class was full and somehow I landed a spot in the back (dangit!).  Still, I enjoyed every minute of it. The majority of the class was spent on drills and variations of specific steps.  I appreciate that Niki steered clear of choreography but instead demonstrated multiple movement options with each step.  I feel that this puts the dance in the student's hands for future exploration.

It's as if she is saying, what can you do with your freestyle and with these steps? Go do it.  How many ways can you move forward, right, backwards, and left? Countless.

Niki had us drill movements leading with our shoulders, utilizing undulations or sharper angular motion, for example.  Meanwhile she doled out encouraging words with a smile, all the while highlighting the importance of embodying all aspects of the music.

Overall, I left feeling uplifted and properly worked.

Also happening is this documentary of Niki and Martha.  The trailer was released 3 years ago BUT, I just saw that the documentary was shown at a film festival a few months ago.  I believe it is still yet to be released to the general public.  Tora Martens, the director, has followed these two for the past 5 years and clearly shows their connection to each other and to the dance.  I love this trailer.

Have a good weekend babes!

Photos by Adelphos