Today I got some photos of the inside of a couple of churches, one is the metropolitan cathedral, the other an older church. They're below, feel free to peruse them. What I really want to talk about today though is not the photography or the churches. In fact I'm feeling a little adventured-out, and I'm not feeling 100% well either. Nothing serious, just tired and sleeping more than I would normally. So, enough about that.
What I really want to talk about is one of the reasons I wanted to travel, and that was to understand better how the world works. And perhaps I've gotten some of that. I've seen traditional manioc farming in the Amazon basin, and giant hydroelectric projects in southern Brazil. I've seen crappy roads turn into wonderfully well maintiained roads simply by crossing an international boundary. I've seen people dancing at Carninval until 5:30am and still going strong after I was well past my bed time. I've met lots of other travelers from all over the world: Ireland, Hungary, Israel, Canada, Germany, Holland, even a few from the US. But what I didn't think I was getting was a better sense of how the world actually works. I realized tonight that probably my approach is wrong. I kind of feel like I'm trying to understand how a human mind works by investigating the individual neurons firing. There's a difference between the layers, and the smallest layers give rise to complex and unexpected behavior on the aggregate scale. Knowing how a neuron fires doesn't tell us much about why we experience love, or loneliness. Looking at the behavior of a single ant doesn't tell us really how an ant colony survives as a whole. Studying how 1s and 0s are flipped in registers and memories doesn't explain the behavior of the computer, our interaction with it, or the human interactions that occur via the internet. And I think the world is much the same way. In my travels, when I look beyond the "Travel Bubble," and see what is happening in the world around me (and not just on the tourist paths), mostly what I see is people going about their lives, just trying to make the best of what they've got.
So maybe there are some super smart people in the world who have the intelligence and abilities to guide entire paths of human endeavor, but I think they're rare, and I'm not entirely convinced that they're not surprised by human behavior on a regular basis as well. Sometimes it takes works of fiction to bring to my attention the uniquenes with which many people operate. I've been reading some William Gibson lately, and he's pretty talented at pitting different cultures against each other, or in many cases, working together to produce interesting new results. Much of his work is set in Japan, which in his own words, operates a few clicks into the future ahead of everyone else. Sitting and watching regular Joe Buenos Aires resident ride past on his scooter during the rain and thinking about the culture of Japanese nerds (Otaku), was for me today, one of those moments of realizing that the world is bigger and stranger than I will ever imagine it to be.
So I'm not sure if this is a success or a failure for me. I have seen a tiny bit more of the world, but I don't have a much greater sense of how it all works. I guess what I really wanted was to be able to understand it well enough to begin being much more directive in writing my own role in it, but I guess I think that will probably never really happen. Like all the people walking in today's rain, riding on their scooters with their girlfriends holding tightly to them, standing in stores and taking passport photos, waiting in lines for the Bolivian consulate to assist them, all these people are just living their lives the best they can at the moment, and maybe it's a pretty great thing to hope that I can do just the same thing.
Candid shot, this one. He was waiting for the confessional. Thanks for all those who commented that you liked the people photos from yesterday.
This is a tomb, of some exceedingly important dead guy, whose name I do not know, nor do I know why he's famous. General someone or other.
Much of central Buenos Aires looks like this. Some say that it looks more like Europe than Latin America, and if I'd seen more of Europe, or Latin America for that matter, I'd probably be inclined to agree.