Bulletins From BA #25
12 marzo 2014
¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.
Photo Update Alert:
Autumn has arrived in Buenos Aires and the weather is, as they say on the BBC, “dry and fine.” A.J. is on the road almost constantly for a few weeks, so when she has a weekend at home, we try to take advantage by picking out a local destination and setting forth. Recently, one of our modest peregrinations took us to the barrio once home to the most influential musician in Argentine history: Carlos Gardel.
We had previously visited Gardel’s resting place in el Cementerio de la Chacarita (Bulletins From BA #15). His home, Museo Casa Carlos Gardel, which he shared with his mother until his death in 1935, is now a museum. The building itself is a very nice, very typical home of its time; two stories with a narrow street front and a courtyard. Naturally, it is packed with recuerdos (memorabilia) de Gardel. Having read considerably about the man and learned to play several of his compositions, I was enchanted.
[Transportation Sidebar - Slightly less enchanting, but worthwhile nonetheless, was the ride from our barrio (Palermo Viejo) to Gardels’s (Abasto). Foregoing taxis, we elected to take the #41 colectivo (bus), utilizing our snappy SUBE cards, normally reserved for distinguished guests. It was a perfectly unremarkable ride, although - typically - the bus stop where we needed to embark was not where the map indicated.]
We then meandered along neighborhood streets (with images of “Carlito” everywhere) until we arrived at Abasto de Buenos Aires, an impossibly grand shopping mall. Opened in 1893, this magnificent structure served as the city’s central wholesale fruit and vegetable market until 1984, when it was abandoned. Fortunately, in 1997 George Soros bought it and invested two million bucks in restoration. The stores are the standard, mostly boring shoppes found in other large malls, but the building itself is wonderful and worth the trip.
[Culinary Sidebar - Abasto de Buenos Aires also houses the largest food court I have ever had the privilege/necessity to visit. We had pizza. It was surprisingly acceptable.]
Electing to stroll in the general direction of homeward, Anne and I stumbled upon a small gem: Museo Casa Ricardo Rojas. Señor Rojas (1882-1957) was a hugely influential writer, educator, journalist, and man of letters. The house, designed in the 1920s by architect Ángel Guido, is somewhat exotic when viewed from the street. But it reveals itself as, quite literally, something from another era when one enters.
Incorporating design elements both Spanish and northern Argentine (Rojas was born in Tucumán), la casa features courtyards and colonnades, a library and study both filled with books, and a functioning music salon. Buenos Aires is full of unexpected treasures and we were fortunate to have come upon this one.
All this serendipity had taken its toll and we found ourselves in need of an afternoon pick-me-up. And, unusually, we had an actual destination in mind: Un Café Con Perón, located in a restored building that was once part of the Presidential Residence of Juan and Eva Perón. This place is a shrine to Peronismo (the Argentine political movement based on Perón’s legacy) and features photographs, books, and recuerdos. Also noted: A life-size statue of Presidente Perón sitting at a table enjoying his café de la tarde.
And then, home. All in all, it was a fine day out. Not bad for a couple of Porteños temporalis.