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Flag raising, street fights, meetings, food and music

5:30am came too quickly as I fell out of bed trying to stop my Palm T3 from alarming. Collecting myself and meeting Ann outside, we made our way down to the lake through Centro Civico where we were greeted with a most pleasing photographic opportunity. As the policia came on duty, the national flag of Argentina was being raised in the pre dawn light. It’s at times like this where I am grateful for a fast 50mm lens (f1.4), but it also makes me lust for just a bit more speed and that Canon 50mm f1.2 is mighty appealing.

Regardless, we were able to obtain some satisfactory shots before racing down to the lake to capture the sunrise over the Andes. We were not the only people who ran down to the lake as we saw others that walked down in the morning to watch the sun rise.

We also saw black chinned siskin (Cabecitanegra Austral) that were very hard to photograph because of the limited light and their seeming inability to sit still for any period longer than five seconds. I really *need* the 70-200 f 2.8.

On the way back to the hotel in time for the meetings we were sidetracked by one of the clubs closing at about 6:30am. The deal is that many of these clubs do not even open until well into the wee morning hours. Think 3:00am as an opening time. So, the kids spill out of the clubs, beers in hand and arms around one another that Ann wrote about here. However, this time as the clubs contents were spilled onto the street there were tensions apparent and the policia were present and waiting for the inevitable fight to break out. Several members of the crowd started a fist fight and the policia swept in to break up the fight and haul the participants off, presumably to jail as the young women pleaded with the arresting officers to let the perpetrators go.

That little drama over, we walked back to the hotel where we were greeted by this little bit of graffiti on the wall (translation: The hour of idiots) which seemed oh so appropriate.

Lots of stuff already under my belt for the day and I still had to attend a day full of meetings which seemed initially so difficult. However, the sessions were outstanding with platform sessions on transplantation and gene therapy, RP disorders and potential therapies. Lunch was a delightful opportunity to talk with our delayed keynote speaker, Pierluigi Nicotera about photography, cameras, Apple computers, microscopy and technology. We decided to continue the dialogue and we’ll see where it leads to. Following lunch we had another session on stem cells, regeneration and promoters with Don Zack, David Hyde and Ann Morris. We also had an outstanding keynote presentation by the aforementioned Pierluigi Nicotera who was supposed to talk on the first day but was delayed by by British Airways. Thankfully, he was able to make it and the talk he delivered on Death Switches in Neurons was most appropriate and well crafted. The afternoon sessions ended up with talked on glial cells, cones and molecular signaling from Cheryl Craft, Geoff Lewis and Christian Grimm.

After the meetings, once again I decided to escape the hotel and go out in search of tasty food, this time with Ann Morris and Geoff Lewis. We left a bit early in the hopes of simply enjoying a walking tour or Bariloche and soaking up some of the local flavor. Walking past the bus station revealed the coolest foosball table I’ve ever seen, looking like a relic of the 1950’s.

We also watched for a while as a young man was attempting to access (break into?) a window by climbing up on the roof of a restaurant. We watched as he scaled the drainpipe, climbed onto the roof and calculated how bad he wanted to get into the window given his next hurdle. After a few seconds, he turned to look at us, saw me photographing him, dropped his head and shoulders and gave up.

After walking down to the cathedral and around town for a little while longer, dinner was found at del Lago, a restaurant in the Hotel Nahuel Huapi. This meal was quite the treat with a starter tray of smoked cheeses and meats which was followed by each of us ordering our entrees along with an exquisitely complex 2002 tempranillo, Zuccardi Q from Familia Zuccardi in the Mendoza region of Argentina. If I can find this wine back in Utah, I will be buying a few bottles for the cellar. Dinner was an appropriate affair that we luxuriated in without any rush which reminds me that in the US, we simply rush through too many things without taking the time to enjoy them. Even though H and I are foodies and enjoy cooking our own meals almost every night, we tend to rush through to get other tasks accomplished. Ann, Geoff and I simply took our time and spent a couple of hours just talking and enjoying the meal which was of course followed up by postres (dessert) with the best flan I’ve ever had.

We walked off dinner by traveling some of the back roads behind the hotel further up the hill, going past local bars and smaller restaurants and pizzerias, many of which seemed to just be getting started at 11:30pm, took some time to visit with some los perros perdidos and gatos perdidos which while homeless, for apparently historic reasons that run deep along with the history of the Argentinean people appear to be quite well fed and cared for. Individuals and restaurants will put out food for them as the culture and concept of the lost or disappeared strikes a sensitive nerve with the Argentinean people.

We eventually made it back to the hotel where I avoided turning in by going downstairs to get my email and keep in touch with the rest of the world. This went on while I was listening to some great music from the bar in the hotel. Of course I could not quite go to bed yet (1:00am), so I hung out for a while, photographing the show and enjoying a the music along with a cerveza.

Categories: Travel.

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