Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sebastian's Commendable Taste

Sebastian is a 21-year Columbian guy, living in Porto Alegre. He is wise beyond his years, and absolutely won my respect with his stellar knowledge of the best dives in Porto Alegre. I lived there for nearly two and a half years: how is it that I never found Papillon?

I only too badly wanted to photo-document this place. It was sleazy, dark, and bizarre. It was something like 6am. It was worse (which means "better" of course) than the fine establishments that line Mannheim Road in Stone Park, Illinois. By a long shot.

Almost immediately upon being seated in the back, a very odd fellow came and sat with us. He prattled on incessantly, even though Lisa and I pretended to not understand, in the hopes he would give up and leave us to our conversation. No dice. If he couldn't engage us in chatter, he could perform. Using the table as his baby grand, he embarked on his elaborate one-man show: "The Best of Chico Buarque (1966-present)."

At one point, Sebastian went to the bathroom, leaving Lisa and I to fend for ourselves with Elton John and the gathering whispers from the, apparently, anti-foreigner crowd that frequents the place. He returned a moment later, and shortly thereafter a waiter came by to collect Elton. Sebastian had, coolly and discretely, asked the staff to intervene.

I was impressed.

I pretended to photograph Sebastian and Lisa, hoping to capture more of the ambiance and crowd in the background. It didn't really work--although the blackness is appropriate.

Besides, I only managed to get two snaps before deciding that I was probably crossing some lines that could lead to physical danger. Sebastian, being more adept at distinguishing nearby banter from bar noise, let us in on some of the increasingly aggressive commentary from neighboring tables. We decided it was better that we made a speedy exit.

Then, since the hour was right, we went for breakfast.
Like a moth to a flame, though, I'll definitely go back.

Thanks for the night of great conversation and sightseeing, Sebastian!
Until next time...