The King is Dead, Long Live the King

May 24th 2010: Thoughts, Travel

A long plane ride will not only transport you from one world to another physically, but also mentally. By the time you arrive at your destination you have shed your old self in anticipation of the new environment, the new you. As you soak up your new experiences the old ones fade very quickly, feeling strangely far away. Once again in my old stomping ground, city by bay, city of light and fog, San Francisco, it is hard to believe I just spent the last three months in Buenos Aires. In Argentina. In South America. How quickly time passes. It both felt long and short. Being in a well known place I am both pleased to, for once, have familiar surroundings, but I also admit to missing the excitement of the foreign. So, looking back, what is the conclusion of this trip?

Buenos Aires will always hold a special place in my heart. I don’t think you can live in a place for an extended period of time and not become attached to it. You adjust to it and it adjusts to you. And in my case the adjustment, the journey, was not only external, based on the new environment, but also internal, around a new life style and focus, which makes BsAs particularly important to me. I arrived in Argentina eager to do something else, eager to prove that I can be a photographer, eager to get out there, into a new world. Having had plenty of time to work, reflect, and settle, I left Argentina with a new confidence, a new sense of self, a clearer focus for myself. For that alone the trip was more than worth it. Buenos Aires just provides a wonderful environment to sip coffee and ponder.¬†Beyond the personal development, however, there are many other “successes” to show for, each in its own already justifying the time spent.

Photographically I learnt a lot, not about photos, not about technique, but about what it means to be a photographer, an artist. Returning with 100 rolls of film shot, almost 3,800 images, I have come to realize how ridiculously ambitious the 500 rolls I set out with were, given that I knew nothing of the challenges to be faced as a photographer, like the need for a darkroom and the time and energy it consumes. At the same time, 500 rolls really allowed me to just not worry about film and expenses and shoot whatever I felt like, encouraged me to be experimental. I am actually not only very satisfied with the photos I took, but think they exceed the expectations I would have had, had I been more experienced and realistic. So, overall, I am quite happy with both the photos and my growth towards becoming a better photographer. And there are still 400 rolls left!

Another clear take away from this trip were the many people I have met, the friends I made, and who I am sad to have left behind. I will miss the Thursday beer and taco nights, the discussions of the horrible 50s plasticity of Superman vs. 60s Mad Men, the odd Argentinean performance art pieces, all the different late-night house and roof parties, and so much more. Hopefully our paths will cross again and thank god for Facebook!

Then there are those other things, skills really, I learnt in my time in Argentina. Like my tiny bit of Castellano Spanish, good enough to get around and infinitely better than that zero Spanish I was at four months ago. There is also Tango which I am looking forward to continuing. And finally the always useful “how to build a disposable darkroom on a tiny budget”.

Finally, there is simply the exposure to a whole new continent I had not seen before. I am glad to have lived in Buenos Aires for so long and *not* having traveled a lot, instead of zooming in and out having really gotten to know the place, the people, the culture. But after settling in BsAs and visiting Patagonia, I now want to return, also see Mendoza and Salta, travel to Chile and Bolivia, and get to know parts of Brazil. There is so much more to see and now there are also friends and friends of friends there to visit as well. Next time. Next year?

So what’s next?

Hehe… I’m not telling. Not quite yet. As mentioned, I am currently back in San Francisco, but only for a short time, busily putting the final touches on the preparations for the next section of my trip. Stay tuned! I promise it will be quite exciting – I am already bouncing of the walls in anticipation. All should be settled and revealed within the next few days, I hope. Trust me, it’ll be awesome!

Posted in Thoughts and Travel by Ernst Bruening on May 24th, 2010 at 6:54 pm.

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