Insiders Guide: Jesse Rivest
All Blacks vs. Argentina, Westpac Stadium, 7:35pm, September 8.
What were you doing in Buenos Aires?
Mostly taking it easy! I spent a lot of time in the plazas listening to birds and cars and playing mandolin. I lived near a peaceful bit of farmland - an agricultural school in the city - where I would go to work on songs. I checked out a lot of live music and cycled often, con mi bonita. I also experimented baking bread with sourdough culture, worked on websites, tutored English…all sorts of things.
Is there a big Argentine community in Wellington?
There’s a good Latin American community here and I’ve briefly met some Argentinians through Latin club meetings. Last year while hitchhiking home from Waikaremoana, a car of three Argentinians picked me up and we went from Napier to Wellington non-stop, passing around yerba mate and eating empanadas. We partied late in Wellington with more of their Argentine friends.
Why is Argentine culture so inviting to you?
It could just be that it’s exotic to me. I love the rooftops of homes and apartment buildings in Buenos Aires - there’s a whole secret world up there. Families barbequing, drying laundry, growing plants, relaxing, sunbathing. Barbeque is a way of life in Argentina; they use aromatic woods for their fires and whatever you cook - pizzas, veggies, meat - tastes amazing. I like how little shops close for siesta. Shopping is done between four and eight pm, dinner at nine or 10, and a multitude of activities after that. And the trains are full of endless surprises...
Where else do you go to get an Argentinian fix in Wellington?
I liked the Buenos Aires Tango Cafe when it was open in Left Bank. Now one can go to El Matador on Cuba - they have a mini parrilla (barbeque) and during the day you can get choripán, milanesas, and other Argentine treats. For films, befriend the Latin American Society – many of the films presented are Argentine.
What’s one striking difference between Buenos Aires and Wellington?
The colour of the daylight. Smog makes the light more warm and golden, which appeals to me a lot. Wellington is so forced-air fresh that the light, especially in the summer days, is very hard and bright. I guess the trade-off is a happy respiratory system.
You’re a musician – do you play any Argentinian songs?
Not yet. I’m still learning Spanish – some songs would probably help! I was learning the melody to Tonada de un Viejo Amor on my mandolin and I’d like to get back to it. It’s a nice example of folklóre music in Argentina, with very interesting rhythms and melodies.
Are you tempted to tango?
A bit! I had my first lesson at a cool little music festival in Geraldine. I’m sorry to say I didn’t try once in my entire seven months in Buenos Aires. I certainly did take in some tango music, though. I am in love with the bandonéon, which is a type of concertina/accordion. I am tempted to learn to dance folklóre - it’s very cool.
Are you worried about dirty looks if you wear your Argentina shirt to the game?
A bit, yes. My friend Kyle said he’d punch me in the face, but fortunately he’s not coming. I’m glad I’m finally going to see the world’s best and fiercest rugby team, and the fact that they’re playing against Argentina... que bueno! I think I’ve lost my competitive or patriotic nature - maybe too many years of playing Canadian ice hockey - I’m just excited to see the game.