Linda, a Facón & a Rastra — Pure Argentine Nostalgia

Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Sometime in 1999 I went into the Marble Arch and sat at the bar. Jorge the barman looked at me and placed a tall glass of soda water. This was my usual and I never had to pay for it. Jorge was Mexican so we spoke Spanish. I felt very much like Humphrey Bogart in one of his films where he was in a town he belonged to. While I now feel alienated in a Vancouver I can no longer relate to, I felt then that if I could go to a bar and be recognized and to be offered “your usual” I belonged.

At another bar I had not frequented for a few years I went up to the bar tender and I said, “I want to see …” The man looked at me and replied, “Go upstairs and knock on your left.” I did just that. I entered a room with two men. One of them was an Asian wearing a huge Rolex. On the table was the largest pile of big denomination bills I have ever seen. … introduced me to his companion, “This is Alex Waterhouse, Vancouver’s most famous photographer. He has photographed me.”

In that first bar … (the owner of the establishment) came up to me and asked, “You are Argentine, Alex, aren’t you? I want you to meet someone you just might have a connection with.”

That’s how I met the very Argentine Linda who had a mouth to kill for, the same with her eyes and everything else about her.

With Linda my artist friends Juan Manuel Sánchez and Nora Patrich embarked in an almost one year of project of taking pictures, painting and sketching Linda. After sessions in my studio or in Nora’s house we would have Argentine mates (note no accent on that e) and talk about the subject of our project, our nostalgia for Argentina and Buenos Aires. It was only in that year that I finally understood what is probably most evident to most people. This is that you can only feel nostalgia for a place when you are no longer in that place.

For this photograph (of hundreds, one nicer or better than the other in some detail) Nora made Linda wear the gaucho bombacha. A bombacha in many Latin American countries is a woman’s underpants. In Argentina it is a baggy pant that is tight around the ankles (it is buttoned there). Gauchos wear alpargatas, an Argentine espadrille. Around Linda’s waist is a gaucho rastra. For dress gauchos will wear rastras with gold coins. In her hands is a facón a knife that is used by gauchos to slaughter cattle, to eat or in 19th(and 20th) lore, the weapon of choice (never a six-shooter) to resolve conflicts.

After my two years in the Argentine Navy my sailor mates gave me this facón as keepsake and remembrance of my time served.

On Linda’s magnificent chest the black cloth is normally used to keep the bombacha in place in lieu of a belt.

You might find interesting if you read here, that my facón is the actual murder weapon in a novel by Canadian author J. Robert Janes.

Link to: Linda, A Facón & A Rastra — Pure Nostalgia

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