“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
According to some, people always look better in the sun. According to me, everything looks a bit more intriguing in little to no light. No sun, just the pulse of the night with the moon guiding us to herds of bodacious deer to feast on. Deer don’t have to pay taxes. They fatten up on their own dime eating all that grass, all day long. And so we honor their hard work at nighttime, with a hunt.
Here’s the scene:
It’s a full moon. And a street vendor mentioned the other day while waiting at the bus stop, that every time there is a full moon, people gather near the planetarium in the city park, and celebrate it.
Already sounding a lot like a Dionysus-and-his-faithful-followers situation, I store that piece of information into my long term memory, catch the bus, and wait for the next full moon. I’d patiently wait for the sun to set day after day, hoping the moon would show its fat belly, round and luminous. And after a few days, it did.
It was a Saturday.
I should say, if our mothers had any idea of the sort of things we get involved in at night here in Buenos Aires, particularly last Saturday night, they would either put us on the next train home, or join us in the debauchery
- depends on the mother.
Along the way to find the full moon, I met a lovely Irish gal who decided to be adventurous enough to join the full moon party search team. You, me, an Irish girl, and a bag full of treats for the journey toward this whispered subculture of moon worshippers in Buenos Aires. Sounds like a made up sort of thing, but we go anyway to see if we can call his bluff.
We arrive prematurely; silly foreigners showing up to a celebration in Argentina before 2am. A deserted wooded area welcomed us at 11:30pm. Just a gaggle of wild geese honking on by the lake, and a few mysterious trees standing tall and phallic-like in the crisp air.
Not a soul in sight. At least we tried. Prepared for this situation, we reach in our bag of treats and pull out a bottle of beer, a bottle of wine, and some french fries. “We’ll make our own full moon party. No problemo.”
Tall tales told by strangers at the bus stop. Should’ve known he was pulling our leg. It was too good to be true. Something that only happens in fictitious novels or silly wanderlust blogs. But it was worth the attempt because to be a part of something so tribal and worldly in a concrete jungle of a city full of Catholics and sort of Catholics like BA is a once in a lifetime experience.
With the pop of the cork, we plopped on a large rock and stared at the obnoxious geese, ranting on about what it used to be like in the city.
A minutes later, a man from Chile and his friend from the north of the port approach and ask if we were there for the full moon party. Relieved that someone actually knows about this secret gathering, we say yes, pass the bottle around, and get to know each other – waiting for other wanderers to show.
These guys were the kind of folks who built houses out of recycled things by the river. They showed us photos.
It was enlightening.
We noticed that the Chilean guy wasn’t taking a sip from our communal bottle of wine… Which put the the Irish gal on edge, and so she offered him some other tasty treat to relax.
Never trust a man who never drinks.
I kept my eye on him. After all we were in the middle of the woods, tucked away from the city buses and trivial urban happenings. I think, that bottle could be used as a weapon. If he decides to make any strange advances, I’ll crack it open across his head. Maybe the guy at the bus stop set us up? Maybe these men are here to collect us and take us to the river where they build those odd looking houses out of bottles and things.
After a long wait, and with eyes wide open, we decide they are harmless and actually quite friendly.
Waiting for the thing to start, as were we.
In the distance we heard a harmonica, so we walk toward the music and join them. Another group of early arrivers sitting in the woods. Waiting. Waiting. Looking up at the sky. Listening to the harmonica carry on.
Drums in the distance, coming closer.
Then a fire. And then guitars. A trumpet. Flutes. Street vendors selling empanadas and special brownies. More flutes. More people. Just like that. More drums. Another bonfire. Men with carts full of cold canned Quilmes circling the impromptu collection of moonwalkers.
And so, we grab an empanada, a Quilmes, a few brownies, and stand close to the trumpets, the flutes, the drums. And we dance around the fire.
Liquored up under a full moon.
And in a brief moment of sanity, my dear new Irish friend says, “it’s probably not a good idea to have such a big bonfire in the middle of the woods…” But that was probably the unmentionables talking… The good kind, the natural kind.
We were a mixture of wolves in the night. Channeling our inner Dionysus. Celebrating the little bit of peace and absurdity the full moon brings to this big bustling city in South America.
*Some interesting facts to consider about Dionysus:
While other gods had temples, the followers of Dionysus worshipped him in the woods. Here they might go into mad states where they would rip apart and eat raw any animal they came upon. Dionysus is also one of the very few that was able to bring a dead person out of the underworld.
Once he had grown to manhood, Dionysus decided to wander far and wide.
Dionysus is represented by city religion as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and thus symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods
He is also called Eleutherios (“the liberator”), whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful.