City Life

Sipping decidedly better than normal coffee at McDonalds, enjoying the Wi-Fi, I present to you a snapshot of city life, here in Buenos Aires. As I type, a class of schoolchildren tramp in for an English lesson, ordering at Mickey D’s as an “American” cultural experience. I guess they’re not far off. McD has adapted its enterprise rather amazingly to the Argentine way of life, illustrated by both the inclusion of the espresso bar (AKA McCafé), the “Me Encanta” placemats (me encanta ir al parque con mi novio/I love going to the park with my boyfriend, me encanta comer churros/ I love to eat churros), and the dulce de leche ice cream. Ironically, McD’s belongs to the neighborhood more than our other Wi-Fi hotspot Spell Café, mostly patronized by American and European tourists. But it’s not extremely easy to get “work” done here.

Most of our work is done in a locutorio, or internet café. This means clacking away in search of Inka Trail hikes and various Peru fun-ness, but sometimes you just gotta take a break. I know, I know, here “work” has an extraordinarily loose definition, but I´m okay with that. But work it is, and the search continues. Enough of that boring stuff.

The whole “getting up on time” shtick is still a little beyond our capabilities, but we worked out a pretty sweet routine of Spanish lessons in the morning, cleaning and grocery shopping, followed by an afternoon walk or run, an early dinner and then reading at night. Cloudy skies swirled by our balcón early this week, making us glad
that we had a good book to accompany us. To parallel the epic journey through, up, and across the Southern Cone, we have embarked upon an equally epic literary adventure: a complete read through of The Lord of the Rings. Currently, we are at the end of book 3, halfway into the Two Towers. D has never read the entire book, so it´s been quite enjoyable. We take turns reading aloud, although I tend to do most of it. Reading aloud is a skill that I honed quite well in my former life as a teacher, and I now find that the activity which I previously relegated to kindergardens and books on tape is now quite pleasant. Also, my Ent voice is stellar. You should hear it.

There was much LOTR this week, including a viewing of movie I on Sunday evening, and an entire day of documentaries on Thursday, of which I am mildly ashamed.

This was a monumental week for the travellers; we ventured (gasp!) out of our neighborhood. Shocking, it is absolutely shocking. We chose for our destinations two exemplars of the fine arts: Centro Cultural Borges and the Museo de Bellas Artes.

Centro Borges was supposed to be a museum-like operation that held the World Press Photo Exhibition…it turned out to be the top floor of an enormous shopping mall called Galerias Pacífico, the renovated Museo de Bellas Artes. The photography exhibit didn’t disappoint, but it felt bizarre to be walking around above Christmas decorations and sale signs on our way into the gallery.

The actual MNBA (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) was quite worth the trip, and we’ve been back twice since then. The impressionist collections were pretty neat, and there is an entire floor of Argentine art that is incredible. My favorite painting is a modern oil of the continent of South America turned upsidedown so that Tierra del Fuego is in the “northeast” corner of the map. North America is shrunk down to a squirrel-pelt sized chunk of land in the lower right hand corner, reminding me of the West Wing episode when C.J. finds out that the mercatur projection is racist and classist.

My second favorite was a retrospective on an artist named Florencio Molina Campos, a self-taught cartoonist who became famous during WWII. The caricatures of horses and gauchos reminded me of a time when Disney was Walt, and the studio was a nexus for creative talent, not the decadent picture-factory that still bears the Disney name. I highly recommend a view: artist’s website.

When our knees could bear the marble floors no longer, we took refuge in the café and the cinema, fortuitously discovering that Wednesdays are discount days at the theater (we will be attending every following Wednesday). We stumbled upon a huge café next to the cemetery that served chocolate a la española, and I nearly died with paroxysms of joy. Fortunately, I did not join Evita in El Cementario de la Recoleta, and we wrapped up our art-packed outing with an Almodóvar film and a dose of Madrileño Spanish. Warmed my heart, that did. “Volver” was quite good, and better than I expected.

A well-rounded urban day, filled with food culture, and a bit of adventure. We should get out more often =).

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