John and I get our news from the Washington Post online edition and we are able to watch PBS both for Downton Abbey and the Friday night civilized debate with Brooks and Shields. It’s healthy, it’s grownup. John actually gets more news from other sites: Reuters and the Economist. I’m a fluff gal. I want “just enough.” In truth, the overseas military editions of the Stars and Stripes was just enough for me on a daily basis. I whine when things get complicated and the current US political coverage makes me want to whine. Except that I’m sitting in a country where governments change with military coups: soldiers, guns, people “missing.” It’s the history of Argentina for centuries. So while our political process is tiresome, troubling, expensive, we don’t have military coups. In the end the Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Clinton, Sanders are nothing in the big scheme of the world. Freedom of the Press is our most valuable asset.
Last week we went to visit the Eva Peron Museum. The “don’t cry for me Argentina” gal; the stuff that Broadway musicals are made of. Very interesting to see her history unfold. One of four children, Evita’s mother was the mistress of a wealthy man who had another wife. Frequently in Argentina, wealthy men would have more than one family in those days. When her father died, the family was no longer supported—mother took in laundry and sewing to feed the children and always made sure the children were educated. Early on, Evita had an acting experience that launched her into the bright lights of the stage. She worked hard as a young actress, performing in Grade B movies and in live theater. Her “poor” beginnings taught her compassion for the downtrodden; she was one of them. As luck would have it, a tragic earthquake brought the young newly widowed Juan Peron, government Minister of Social Systems, and Evita together. Evita became Wife #2 and they embarked upon a vision of Social Justice and Mercy. Juan was denounced and arrested, then the Perons were brought back and Juan was elected President. They were adored by the downtrodden. Evita was known as the Angel of the Poor. Evita died of cervical cancer at the age of 33, another military coup, Juan fled to Spain with his new wife. The then-present government didn’t want any Evita devotion inflaming the populace so her body was transported and buried for a decade in Italy under another name, then found again and delivered to Juan (and his new wife in Spain) where they kept the coffin in their dining room! We’ve done some continued research into the Perons and once again I’ve relearned that “there’s a little bit of bad in the best of us and a little bit of good in the worst of us.”
To continue with the Argentina exploration, we had a fabulous tour at the Colon Opera House. They provided a tour in English that we had to take advantage of. One of the few tours in English I might add. Usually we have to download a description from our wifi connection in the apartment before we launch and then try to put the pieces from the exhibit together with our description. Adaptation. It’s a skill and we’ve been practicing it a lot down here. The Colon Theater is extraordinary: Versailles style hall of mirrors, a stained glass ceiling, carrara marble balustrades and carvings of the world’s most famous musicians on the lintels. It is eye-popping with gold gilded furniture, chandeliers and vases. A museum is located in the building and a collection of old musical instruments. Underground is the workshop where all the costumes and stage props are designed and built. We were told every costume is made new and we saw some very old costumes. The main theater has a seating area of 2500 and can accommodate 3500 if standing tickets are sold. It is big, stunning and I felt so gifted to have seen the Colon Theater. Estupendo!
We’ve had only one run-in with the police in Argentina—only one for the whole trip. I happened to come up to a red light at an intersection and see a man sitting in the driver’s seat of a car in the left turning lane with an infant in arms behind the steering wheel. I happened to mention it to my cohort in crime, saying something like “you wouldn’t see that in the US.” So John immediately stood on the curb and took a picture, then said something about “dangerous” in Spanish. We continued our walk and then I see a policewoman, eyes warily looking in our direction. (My government trained me as an observer). Yep our “dangerous” driver is fast afoot following us, looking angry. He approaches the policewoman, states his case, John pulls out his cellphone and deletes the picture in front of Dangerous Driver and the policewoman. John apologizes and off we went. Lesson learned: probably shouldn’t make remarks to persons who are less than careful with their children if they are heavily tattoo-ed. I did NOT take photos of the police encounter. Tattoos or no tattoos.
We did make a trip to the National Library. First, the architecture is quite phenomenal. Secondly we went to see about securing a library card which proved more difficult than other library visits. We were only allowed on the first, third and fifth floor. When I asked about taking out a book I was told that I could read a book on the 5th floor. Thinking that the shelves of books were located on the 5th floor we explored only to discover that there are reading chairs and computer access but I couldn’t even get access to the librarian to ask about a book. Unfortunately, I must announce that while I got a card at the library (postcard format with an illustration of the building), I did not get a library card. A card of the library is different from a library card. Translation can be so precarious. I wonder what John really said to the Dangerous Driver.
We’ll be on the cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile starting 1 February until mid-month. Our explore takes us into penguin country and around the Horn. You probably won’t hear much from us for the next two weeks but if you hear of the Star Princess being captured by pirates please send help. It won’t be an internet scam.
Maybe there are tango lessons on the boat. Blessings to all
Photo translation: Theatre Colon x8, Dangerous Driver, Evita presence in town, Antonio Berni mural, John and Liz???, Library card.