Monday, March 28, 2011


Just when I decided I would talk no more about the dictadura, this weekend was the feriado, “Dia de la Memoria”, a long 4-day weekend commemorating the end of the dictatorship and the horrors instigated by it, such as the many disappeared and the adopted children (which I’ve been reading about of late), many of whom have been learning about their true identities as children of the disappeared via the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an offshoot of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo) and the govt. DNA investigative body (super controversial, see feud between Pres. Cristina and the largest media conglomerate, CLARIN.. There was a huge march, about 20,000 up the main Avenida Yrigoyen here in Cordoba, mostly leftists protesting the governor of Cordoba State (who happens to be a Peronist just like Cristina who they were praising…I told you Peronism is bizarre and multi-faceted) and making the connection between the policies of the dictatorship, neoliberalism, Menem, Schiaretti, capitalism, the right in general, etc. Pretty much like a march in the US, with one exception…people holding up photos of hundreds of the disappeared..young, college-age faces from the 70s who haunt every demonstration and give all such gatherings a gravity that is undeniable and impossible to ignore.
Lots of warm regard for Nestor Kirchner too who seems to have become a saint…or as my teacher at my school explains…Argentines love dead politicians more than living ones and vote for them. As it was with Peron, so it is with Kirchner whose death more or less assures Cristina's victory. Every nation mythologizes the dead…Reagan and Kennedy are good examples of the US version, but then we don’t have whole movements spawned from them like they do here…Kirchneristas…imagine Reaganistas (‘que horror’ as they say here, although in a way what else would you call people like Sarah Palin and the rest of those sycophants in the House and Senate?) or Kennedistas. Again, I suppose it’s the cultural thing…Anglo Saxon culture doesn’t seem to personalize its political leaders as much? There’s something creepily ‘parental charismatic’ about the whole Peron/Evita thing and Kirchner/Cristina thing, as if the people are sort of looking for a king and queen to trust and relieve the substantial insecurity which is always in the air.
I had hoped to head into the mts again, but there was a bus strike, which created a huge mess, because this is like Labor Day weekend and buses are how people travel. I have one more weekend here and will try to get into the mts then.
Speaking of nearby towns, there’s a real soap opera of a murder mystery that’s been under investigation for years here. In a gated community in nearby Rio Cuarto, an American socialite, married to an Argentine doctor, was murdered apparently during an orgy she’d put together while her husband was out of town. At first, they arrested the house painter who has since been exonerated. Now there are all these DNA tests of the apparently 26 people at the party, but the prime suspect is the gay son!...there’s no good link for all this but you can search and piece it together.

So I stayed in town, haunting the cafes, reading, drinking coffee, trying to speak Spanish as much as possible and exploring Parque Sarmiento, which is like their Central Park, with a zoo, cafes, lots of walking paths, people sitting by the lake drinking mate, and lots of my new favorite tree, the palo borracho
 (‘drunken stick’ literally….a horrible name, but it’s either because of its baobob-like potbelly or the fact that they tend to grow at an angle, like a staggering drunk, or maybe both. The flowers are beautiful (white or pink) and this tree has become very special to me, like how I feel about oaks in California….…I really like trees. There are lots of beautiful acacia trees here too, which you can see in my last post overhanging the canada or rio.

There are three really good art museums here, amazing for a city this size. Because even though Cordoba is Argentina’s second largest city, it’s not a huge city. For perspective, Argentina is sort of like if the US had New York (BsAs) and then its second largest city was say, Sacramento. Or if NY were a country, that would be similar…but only in terms of one city being dominant because there are large regional distinctions in a country as big as Argentina, differences that people are very conscious of and proud of.

 Above are my new friends Roxana and Viviana (amazing that they have the same names as two of my favorite people at laane, Vivian and Roxana :). They are a lesbian couple (the ones here not my co-workers!) who have a little cafe called Butterfly near my school. They make the best lomo de pollo (chicken sandwich) and they know how to use garlic, unlike many other cafes here! If I must eat meat, RV make it much more palatable. Across the street, these guys do an asado (barbecue) in the street, using the curb, which is pretty funny to watch.
 Here is a regional dish called Locro, from Salta...way too meaty and stewy for me, but my friend Federico from Salta loves it 

Lots of graffiti left over from the fave: 'Ni macho, ni facho' (not macho, not fascist). 
I’m now preparing for my 17-hr bus ride next week to Chile—in a ‘cama’ bus. I’m thru with semi-cama, the difference is huge for about $10. Cama means bed, so you get the gist. I’m back to one backpack, two is impossible…so I’ve reduced my clothes, and since I’ve read half my books, those are gone as well. A friend here graciously offered to hold a glad bag full of clothes which I can pick up on my way back thru in July or donate somewhere. If I don't blog again from Argentina, here are many of my new friends and teachers (Argentines are truly warm and wonderful people, I'm quite impressed :) :
These four live together and have the sweetest little gay family I've ever experienced, really wonderful people. Victor and Ezequiel above, Jose Maria (aka Haity) and Pablo below. They are all super talented too...Victor, Ezequiel and Jose Maria are dancers (JM choreographs as well) and Pablo does costume design for Teatro Colon, which is of course the major theater in BsAs

Elebaires Spanish School in BsAs (wonderful Nuria, right):

My favorite teacher so far (on far left, Milagros :) 
Stephen, originally from Scotland, now living in BsAs for the last 15 yrs? with his Argentine wife and baby daughter. He generously gave me a cell phone to use and is basically a mensch: 

speed racer:

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