Northwest Argentina, cultivated loveliness, easy urbanity to the towns, Jujuy, Salta, allusions to some collision of Spain and Germany and here. Always a plaza, sleepy during the siesta and then alive abuzz until late into the night. Sit rest just watch: skatepunks but with Slayer t’s, couple’s romance sitting kissing close, an old man napping with his cane across his lap, mothers, neckties, remember rollerblades?, I smell pot, mobile phones, stray dogs, women in skyscraper heels and sunglasses walking with apparent purpose, some even on horseback bored cops, but everything slowly slowly in the humid summer Sunday county fair fair weather.

Many stop to talk and shimmywobble in a möbius on the Pugs if they want to, but the earnest hours hanging out are with the do nothing guys, we’re drinking grad school quality wine, I mean this in a surprised celebratory way, from a cut down plastic coke bottle, passing it around and almost as if whomever has it also has the floor for speeches or proclamations. A son of a nuclear physicist, a Ukrainian Chinese immigrant with a photo album who has been to 68 countries, a municipal worker with a broom, an easygoing guy without a shirt on, an old timer shoeshiner who lingers after polishing my shoes. The seller of magenta syrup icies, I gather they have a special name, sets up his bicycle vending rig next to our bench now part of our group because he senses something interesting might be said, mostly I keep my mouth shut and then there is.

We are each whoever we want to be to each other but equally everyone else is whomever one wants them to be to oneself. This fundamental inevitable fixity in essential wide open anonymity, so much a part of travel. It’s both a lamentation and a revelation, the latter not so much in who you invent yourself as (that’s all too often retrospectively an embarrassment) but rather who you invent others as, divulging to you what you make of a place and of yourself in it.

Plazas are for this.

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Thank you for reading in ’11, and happy new year.