City Tourists

It’s  been about ten days since we moved into Pablo’s home in the area of the city known as Chacarita. We can cook our own meals here, and have our own aesthetic and quiet space. There’s an interior courtyard –which presently serves as a long term bike parking area– and a narrow stone staircase leads to roof terrace.

Last week I went downtown every morning for four hours of Spanish lessons at a language school called EBA Trust. I would have happily taken a second week of classes, but it seemed unfair to Chris who was on his own at “home.” The teachers were wonderful. Thank you Germán and Cecilia! I was placed in a class with  a young Australian who had studied Spanish at university, and I scrambled to keep up as we tackled imperfect subjunctive as used in reported speech. Whew! I was brain dead by the end of the week, and felt scattered from worrying about Chris while I studied. At that point, he was not yet obviously on the mend.  The week did inspire me to study more at home, and I’d be happy to come back to the same excellent school  ..without worrying about an injured husband.

Since finishing that week of classes, we’ve been becoming pros at using transit as we tick off museums. We’ve been to the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano, the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. We’ve also walked many miles, eaten very well, submitted our taxes, and talked to people at home.

As we settled in here, Pablo gave us a tour of the best local shops for veggies, baked goodies, and meat. We’ve especially enjoyed the butcher shop, and have been treating ourselves to some pretty good steaks. Last Wednesday, Pablo, Maria, and Pablo’s aspiring biophysicist  nephew came for supper here, and I roasted a chicken with spuds –an easy meal in an unfamiliar kitchen. It’s was interesting to glean tidbits from the greengrocer as I prepared for this. I saw two types of potatoes — one kind appeared black. The shop keeper asked me if I wanted papas negras –-black potatoes, and  I asked what they were. They’re normal light-skinned  potatoes grown in a particular type of dark soil, which apparently make better spuds for baking or roasting, but they’re transported and sold with quite a bit of dark soil left on them to advertise their superiority.
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Last night we did a “must” for visitors to Buenos Aires; we went to a tango show. Arriving for the included dinner, we apologized for our scruffy attire and explained we were travelling by bike. We must have been the worst dressed of the entire gathering, but no one seemed to mind. Our table mates during dinner were speech therapist colleagues from Bogotá, Colombia, in BA for a conference. The show, which took place at La Ventana, was  great fun. The elegant tango dancers strutted elegantly with haughty expressions, dressed in shades of black and white with the odd flash of red: spike-heeled shoes and vibrant lipstick. A soloist began a rendition (Spanish version) of  Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, and the men who strutted onto the stage unfurled Argentinian flags, while the women unfurled white scarves, perhaps made more iconic than any flag by Las Madres de La Plaza de Mayo. A folk music group also played, and a flamboyant gaucho twirled bolas (rocks on the end of a thong) at alarming speed.

Fernanda the physiotherapist came again today. Black tape this time! Chris is moving on to exercises to strengthen his arm, and we’re going for a test ride tomorrow.  We’re making plans to take a boat to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, next Tuesday, and to pedal north on quiet roads from there.  We’re not likely to have time to pedal all the way to Santiago within the time we have left, but we’ll see how we fare. There are always buses.

M

4 responses to “City Tourists

  1. Hi, guys. The injury has certainly screwed up your trip but you seem to be adapting pretty effectively.

    When Odie and I were in Brazil last month one thing that struck us was the lack of information about military rule in most of the historical museums. Basically the whole period seems disappeared. how do the museums in Argentina and Chile handle their military periods?

  2. The situation in the two countries is rather different. It mirrors perhaps their financial and political stability.

    In Chile there is a newly opened museum, in the capital Santiago, documenting the period of repression (see: http://www.museodelamemoria.cl/ ). The issue feels like it is reasonably settled.

    In Argentina several people have told us that they would prefer a military government than a Marxist-Lenonist government. (Perhaps in Turkey if you probed you would find the same, in Argentina it is more on the surface). There is much graffiti that expresses the opposing opinion, such as never again “Nunca Mas” (see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/margo-chris/5560369438/in/set-72157626230625233 ) which is quite common and and more extended graffiti (such as we saw today near the law faculty: http://www.flickr.com/photos/margo-chris/5619911249/in/photostream ). What I feel is important is that the The Mothers “Las Madres” have become a part of the national identity. At the tango show, for instance, the men waved the Argentinian flag while the women waved the white scarves that symbolize The Mothers. There is a national holiday dedicated to truth and reconciliation. For museums, there is a temporary display in an old military building that was used as a clandestine detention centre. In the fine arts museum, the military dictatorship era is mentioned in the description on the wall of the room housing the fine art of the era. The dark images speak for themselves.

    C

  3. Will your travels take you to Curatiba?

  4. No we are not going to Brazil on this trip. No doubt we will on some trip soon because Chris has a cousin in Sao Paulo.

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