Thursday, April 7, 2011


As I was walking through the Bronx today (in what was definitely my first visit, where I couldn’t even do half the things I had planned) I saw a destroyed car, park and turned into a bunch of useless junk. That image might have been trying to tell me to leave and to go find stories somewhere else. My intuition had been sending me similar thoughts, because when I got out of the subway station that brought me to the Bronx, it began raining without intermission: after a very nice sunny and even warm morning. I was obviously not prepared for the rain. The first thing I did and definitely the only thing I should’ve done was visit the Longwood Art Gallery, which had two good showings that I couldn’t fully appreciate because it was full (another reason to come back) of members of the community waiting for the Bronx Culture Trolley, which I chose not to take even though it was free. I did not only want to pass through places: I wanted to stop wherever and whenever I wanted. Because of this I thought that the best thing to do was to take visit around by foot. Time wasn’t on my side, for at 6.30pm I was to be in the “Museo del Barrio” to watch a documentary called “The Faces Behind the Dolls”: a tribute to Madame Alexander Doll Company, a company dedicated to the creation and fabrication of art collection dolls.

After observing the showing at Longwood Art as much as I could, I began walking to my next stop: the Haven Art Gallery. After 20 blocks, 10 vulcanizations, 1 bridge, 1 destroyed car, 1 cigarette and lots of water falling on me, I arrived to find that the gallery was closed. More than feeling bad about it I laughed, and since I’m usually optimistic y quickly directed my path towards the other side of Bronx, hoping to be able to make it to the Bronx Museum. After 30 blocks, the same crashed car, the same 10 vulcanizations, the bridge, a lot more people than before and no cigarette, I decided to look at the map, realizing that I had at least 10 blocks to go, and that nor the humidity of my outfit nor the available time were going to allow me to get there and enjoy my moments there. I decided to go back to my starting point: the subway station.
I knew that for my next stop, on 103 Street and 5th Avenue, I wasn’t able to catch the train from where I was. On the contrary, I’d have to go back to line 6 walking. After 5 more vulcanization spots I decided to risk it and take on a new adventure on the Manhattan underground.

After getting off and not knowing where to go, I found myself standing by the entrance, asking for directions to everyone I saw. No one was going Downtown from there: the key was to have a bit of patience, or try to understand the African American policeman that did not speak Spanish. While he was trying to answer my doubts as I was telling him “please more slowly”, a Russian-faced woman asks me in an Argentinean accent if I was Chilean. I told her I was and asked her if she was going Down Town, if she wanted to go with me until my combination point, as to help me see where it was. I think I bombed her with questions, though she was very happy: she loved Chile because she lived in Valparaíso, my country’s principal port, before coming to live here illegally in 1996. She love Chile and its people, but defended the US with her life, saying it was a better place for her children, that not having come she would have never learnt English, and that living illegally in the US is almost the same as living the opposite. It was another experience with the same thousand-faced story. We could only talk for two stations, for then she indicated my combination point.

As I waited for the next train, I enjoyed a drummer’s music that played and sounded like a Mini Vanilli song, with a young dancer that did everything he could to get a tip. I gave him something and took some photos of what was going on. I walked as fast as I could to the “Museo del Barrio”, got there but couldn’t get in: the movie had begun and I had surpassed the time limit.

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