So the Wolfs are getting better acclimated to their surroundings. We’ve got a routine that balances John’s continued research and Liz’s list of must sees/must do’s in Buenos Aires. We’ve had a few grueling walking days some 5-7 miles seeing and doing. Last week one day consisted of a walk to the Decorative Arts Museum which did not open until 2PM, then to the Japanese Garden, onto the Rose Garden and park, back to the Museum for lunch at Croque Madame, a tour of the museum and then the walk home. To all my winter climate people, I’m sorry, it was 95 degrees! BUT it was 95 frigging degrees.
The museum was originally a home, built in 1920s. Owned by one of the wealthy Argentinians who had amassed their fortune during Buenos Aires beef and wheat heyday. BA was the port so during the late 1800s and early 1900s Buenos Aires was the bright star in South America. The home was designed by a European architect and much of the interior was built in Europe, transported and installed on site. It was an amazing cooperative venture between the European planner and the Argentinian installer. There’s an ocean between them! The wife came from local money and the husband was a Chilean diplomat who was then posted to France and spent many years collecting European and Chinese art treasures while in Paris. There were Rodins, Manet, El Greco, jades from China and tapestries from the Netherlands. It was really fabulous and the ground floor was air conditioned so I could really spend the time savoring each eyeful. The French architect designed the kitchen on the 3rd floor because in those days the sewage system in Paris was “unreliable” and he wanted the kitchen to be far away from a possible problem in Buenos Aires. There was a grand entry, the Senor’s office, the grand ballroom/reception area, a grand dining room, a smoking room and glass conservatory. Elegant beyond words! And a treasure trove of goodies. The second floor held the family living quarters. Lots of paintings, fabric and tapestries. On completion, the family moved in with their booty from France. I found it humorous that the son wanted a new decorator for his quarters. So on his bedroom walls there are bright, gaudy paintings and dark colors. I can hear his mother saying “look at the posters he’s put up! What will we do with him?… And he doesn’t keep his room clean, clothes all over the floor.” A touch of commonality since I had a son who wanted to paint his room black.
There is a lot of graffiti around town. Some of it very artful (called filete) and others just loud and damaging. The first days here it was very disturbing to me and I wondered how the natives felt about it. Two weeks into our stay and it’s not so disturbing. But it’s everywhere. When the storefronts are open it’s not noticeable but when shops are closed and shuttered it’s very noticeable. Pope Francis (Argentina’s famous son) is the subject of some of the artful graffiti. Which brings to mind the local church has a priest that looked like his younger brother. I thought maybe Pope Francis might have been making a clandestine trip back home for the holidays.
I can’t leave today’s musing without mentioning the local drink. Well one of the local drinks because Argentina is very well known for its red wine. Especially malbec. I can attest to its goodness and it’s cheap! The other beverage is known as mate, which is a kind of herbal tea. They drink it from a hollowed out gourd. Since the leaves are just put in water, the natives drink it through a filtering straw. Usually the mate cups are decorated, some even with silver rims and silver filigree. I’ve tried it, not bad and sometimes a little bitter. But the filtering straw is genius.
One of the sights we’ve seen frequently especially in the parks is the dog walkers. BA is an urban area and your dog needs to be walked. Good thing here there are professional dog walkers. Every day we will see a single person with a pack of 8-12 dogs on the way to the park. We’ve got pictures to prove the craziness. And if John’s job gets downsized in the near future… well, he likes dogs…
Sorry, once we amass the photos we can’t move them around to clarify their meaning so here’s the nutshell:
Graffiti, dog walkers, graffiti (ladder and painter are painted in), mate cups, graffiti X3, Pope Francis look alike, graffiti X5, Japanese garden, Museum of Decorative Art, El Greco, graffiti X7, Liz with a message, graffiti.