A Love Story at Feria de San Telmo, Argentina

Cruz Aleman is one of the Cultural Vistas Fellows we’re highlighting as part of our summer’s fundraising campaign for this program.

Feria de San Telmo is a fair that takes place in Barrio de San Telmo here in Buenos Aires every Sunday. There are up to 270 stands full of treats, matés, and souvenirs. As I walk through the crowd of locals and tourists, my eyes dart to and from the array of colors and faces seducing me into spending the pesos in my Frida Kahlo wallet.

The day is gloomy in the best way. The air is chilly but the threat of rain is subsided by what seems like one thousand umbrellas rushing like a wave down the street of vendors. A musician plays a romantic tune on his violin and another group of artists do their rendition of a murmured Beatle’s song under a blue tarp designed with the word, “Pepsi.” My roommates and I walk over to the cover band and sway a little taking in their vulnerable talent and the smell of freshly made choripan.

Meanwhile, a group of huddled men sporting dreads and face tattoos catch our English praises for the band and immediately hurry our way. “De donde sos?”(Where are you from?) “De los Estados Unidos,” we recite and they drape their arms around us as if they’d been waiting for us for lifetimes.

They are artists. Two men show us their handmade necklaces and bracelets made of iron and copper and other malleable shiny things while the rest of the group remain squatting huddled together in the cold against a brick wall. The Brazilian man with low eyes and half of his face covered in green ink shows me an arm band I am staring at and asks me how I speak Spanish so well. I tell him my parents are from Mexico and that I was born in the United States. A look of approval shakes his head into a nod and he begins to tell me of his ex-wife, Corazon.

“I named her Cora,” he says, “como Corazon.” He signals toward his chest and tells me of the American woman he married and how she left him for the riches in the United States. “I taught her how to make this,” he signals to his table of varied crafts. “I was her teacher,” he repeats proudly. His face is serious as he describes a woman that loved him but loved ambition far more. “She didn’t understand me,” he explains and squints his eyes as he tells me of his theory on the connection of humanity and spiritual unity. “She sells these things and makes a lot of money in the United States,” he describes and I expect him to be angry at that but instead he beams a smile and says, “and I’m the one who taught her.”

He says thank you. I let him kiss my hand as I buy the arm bracelet from him because I think maybe Corazon is somewhere out there telling a story of a tattooed man who named her love and taught her how to twist copper.

Watch: Meet the 2016 Fellows  |  Follow at #CVFellows16