Centro Cultural Recoleta (Junin 1930, next to BA design), until June 20.
I am a big fan! If you like photography, don’t miss out on this one!
Every monday, between 20 and 22h, you can go and watch ‘la bomba del tiempo” in the cultural center of Konex in Abasto (Sarmiento 3131). This is a group of 16 musicians that play percussion only. The music is very catchy and it’s hard to stand still.
Full of young people, full of foreigners, full of people with big beer bottles in their hands, and you can smoke whatever… Still, highly recommended!
Sometimes when you see movement at the side of the street you just have to turn off and see what is happening. That is how we came to this “Fiesta Criolla”. Just make sure you always have your camera at hand…!
A field full of trucks, people sitting around tables as if they were camping. Little boys running in between the crowd, dressed as mini-men, showing off on their horses as if they are real rodeo riders. Not really “as if”, they are so good that it looks as if they were born on a horse. All the men dressed up in their best gaucho outfit. Including the silver (usually family-) knife stuck on their back in a belt. Hats, boots or botas de potra.
You get it. It was defenitely a men’s day. The women all looked very plain, as if they knew that on a day like this the men had to shine and they didn’t want to divert attention. And the men shone! It took me a while before I dared to go to these great looking men asking of I could take their picture, but when I got the hang of it my husband had to pull me away to go home. I just couldn’t decide which man looked the best.
In the center there is a big field where 3 horses at a time are prepared for jineteada. Jineteada is this game where a gaucho (can be compared to a US “cowboy”) has to sit on a wild horse as long as 14 seconds. After that 2 other men help him off the horse while riding. Somtimes they fall off, but mostly they don’t. It is extremely spectacular.
The horses are quite wild. Four to five men -one of them sitting on a big horse- are needed to prepare the horse for the ride. They treat him as if he is made of glass. They blindfold him to calm him down. It is not until the gaucho is ready to go that they uncover his eyes. And then it starts. In between the rides an old gaucho sings gaucho songs in a melancholy voice with lyrics that are improvised at the moment and are related to the gaucho that had just finished riding. Hours later I still heard his voice singing.
It is a tipical Argentine folklore game, although it also exists in Paraguay and Uruguay and in some parts of Chili. The riders are dressed acording to tradition. The ‘botas de potro’ probaby being the most striking. They actually look more like socks then like riding boots. They are made of the leather of the under leg of a horse (potro). Many of them wear the old silver belts and knives. It is a not just a sportsgame, it is a cultural outing, where the young and the old enjoy the revival of the old traditions. A family day, with the traditional asado. Although, a revival? I suppose it has always been like this…
Francisco Gianotti (1881-1967) is an italian architect who, after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, studied in Brussels, where he came in contact with the works and theories of the two founders of the ‘art nouveau’, Victor Horta and Henri Van de Velde.
After that he went to Milan where he worked on several buildings for the ‘world exposition’ of 1906.
In 1909 he came to Argentina, where he began to work for the architects Arturo Prins and Oscar Ranzenhofer. This is where he met his future clientele and an other important architect Mario Palanti.
It is with this Palanti that he worked together on the Italian Pavilion built for ‘the International Railway Centennial Exposition’ in 1910. After that he started to design residential houses and appartments.
In 1910 he was commisioned to design the ‘Inmobiliara Building’ on avenida de Mayo, and the ‘Galeria Guëmes‘ in Florida street. These are the first buildings completely designed by his hand. In 1915 he designed another famous building which is the ‘Confiteria El Molino’, in Art Nouveau style.
General Guemes Gallery can be considered the most important work by Gianotti. Although now it is more like a hidden passage. You would almost walk passed it. With its fourteen floors and 80 meters high, it is considered the first skyscraper in Buenos Aires. Now it is hidden between other and higher buildings.
Originally it was supposed to be just a building on Florida, but after an agreement with the bank of Superveille who owned the land on San Martin, they decided to build another building on that side and make a passage that connected both streets, Florida and San Martin.
This buildings had multiple functions. Offices, a theatre, restaurants, a ballroom, shops. The passage, for pedestrians only, connected the 2 buildings.
The front side on florida is completely changed and unrecognizable, but once you go in all you see is absolute splendour. The galleria is recently restaured and is magnificent. It is a jewel in the crowded street of Florida.
General Guëmes (Martín Miguel Juan de Mata Güemes Montero de Goyechea y la Corte) (1785-1821) himself had not much to do with the construction of this galleria. He had lived about 100 years before the construction of it.
For 6 years he was governer of the province of Salta, and he was an important military who fought in the independence war against the Spanish. As there was a lack of troops Guëmes was forced to form an army of gauchos to protect the country of foreign invasions. These gauchos knew the country well. They had no uniform but wore ponchos, they had ‘unusual’ tecniques (like attacking at night) and were armed with machetes and rifles. In between the battles they went back to work on their lands.
Martin Miguel de Guëmes is the only Argentine General who died in action, he was only 36 years old.
This Gaucho army came to an end together with the death of its boss, but still plays a prominent role in the memory of the independence war.
Guëmes was important enough to have a city in the province of Salta named after him, a street in Capital, and this beautiful gallery.
Yes, that’s today. Should we all stay inside?
To me it’s has always been my lucky day. Well I have always been a bit of a rebel in these ‘rules’, and above that, I didn’t really have a choice. My house number used to be 13, and my phone number ****13.00. What was there to be done about that? And of course, I have always loved Fridays, as it is the last day of the (school and working) week.
Why are millions of people obsessed with this Friday the 13th thing? I wondered, so I did some research.
There has been a research about whether it is true that this day brings bad luck or not. And in general, it seems that on a Friday the 13th –for example due to car accidents- more people end up in hospital then on an ordinary Friday. This probably does not prove a thing. I am quite convinced that a lot of “paraskevidekatriaphobics” (yes this fear of Friday 13th has this impossible name) are so stressed and focused on this dangerous day that they actually have/cause accidents…
But isn’t it striking, how this Friday the 13th day is avoided for doing all kinds of ‘important’ things. Who gets married on a Friday 13? There are even people that don’t go out to restaurants, don’t go to work, don’t drive a car and, stay inside!
Well to start with, the number 13 has always been a bad number. You never sit with 13 around a dinner table (or someone will die within a year). Many hotels don’t have a room ‘13’ or not even a 13th floor. Many cities don’t have a 13th street or avenue…. It is unknown when exactly this superstition started. When exactly human beings started to associate the number 13 with misfortune.
Some say that primitive man could only count to 12. He had 10 fingers and 2 feet. What lay beyond that (13) was an impenetrable mystery and thus an object of superstition. But didn’t these primitive men have 10 toes as well?? So let’s just forget this theory…
Others say that the number of 13 has been vilified by the patriarchal religions in the early days of western religion. Thirteen was identified with femininity : there are 13 (x28) lunar (menstrual) cycles a year. The solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of the male dominated civilization, and so did the perfect number 12 over the imperfect number 13.
Another possibility is that this 13-phobia comes from the Vikings. The legend goes like this: Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favourite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be “Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe,” the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.
And then we all know that there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the 12 disciples betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.
And what about Friday?
Did you know that you are not supposed to change your bed on a Friday, that ships should not sail, that you should not cut your nails on a Friday? Now what’s wrong with Friday?
Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God silenced the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday. And did you know that Christ was crucified on a Friday? It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.
In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day, but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the Sabbath, a day of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the gods — which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or starting important projects on Fridays. To complicate matters, these pagan associations were not lost on the early Church, which went to great lengths to suppress them. If Friday was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so for Christians.
So we know that Friday brings bad luck, and so does the number 13. But how about the combination of the two? How, why and when did these separate strands of folklore converge to mark Friday the 13th as the unluckiest day of all?
There’s a very simple reason for that: nobody really knows, and few concrete explanations have been proposed. It is probably just that extra spoon of misfortune that might be accounted for in terms of a simple accumulation, as it were, of bad omens. So unlucky Friday plus unlucky 13 equals very unlucky Friday 13. Then it is probably best that on Friday the 13th, one does not break a mirror, does not walk under a ladder, and does not cross the path of a black cat. Maybe it is best that you just stay at home, lock your doors and shutters, and cross your fingers… but know that this is the only Friday 13th of 2011. Tonight at 12 pm, you can set your mind at rest.
(source : David Emery)
When it comes to books in general and literature in specific, Buenos Aires certainly stands out. I am sure that everyone, even those that don’t like reading so much, know or have heard of Borges. Borges definitely plays an important role in Argentine history and literature. I am sure that every tourist came across him. In this place Borges had his coffee, there he used to have lunch. In this place he came to discuss with his friends. A bit like Hemmingway I suppose. Borges is considered as an example to the Argentine writers, the man who wrote only to write good things and not to become rich. It is said that a lot of Argentine writers of today admire that so much about Borges that they do the same. They want to write something perfect rather then earn a lot of money. They are so exigent towards themselves that they generally write a lot better then many other writers from other countries.
Of course it is not just Borges that makes Buenos Aires so special when it comes to books, there are many other good or even better writers. Besides that the city is full of bookstores. About 200 to be specific. Around 70 libraries, and not to be overlooked, on every corner of the street there is a kiosk that sells books. There are probably more books per capita sold here in Buenos Aires then in any other place in the world. Not just literature, but also philosophy, psychology and political books are written, translated, sold and read by many Argentines.
I was amazed when I went to the ‘Feria Internacional del Libro’ last week. I am a big book fan and have only missed the big book fare in Antwerp twice in my whole life: the last 2 years that I was living here in Buenos Aires. My love for books does have limits. The fare in Belgium must be on my “top 10 of things I miss”. But this Feria in BA was as big, as good, maybe even a bit better (more space and less people). It is a paradise for every book lover that can read Spanish. So many books that you don’t see in the shop. I walked through it as if in a dream; I could have spent days there, and tons of money.
This book fare is really important, it lasts 3 weeks and attracts more then a million visitors, it represents 25% of the book sales a year.
Argentina is also present in book fares in other countries. Last year it was the Guest of Honor on the book fair in Frankfurt, which resulted in more, then 200 Argentine being translated into German. You see Argentine books appear in all languages all over the world. In the Paris book fare they had 5000 books showed in 100m2 in both Spanish and French.
At the same time as the inauguration of the book fare, Buenos Aires became the World Book Capital (from April 2011 till April 2012). Not only does this get Buenos Aires on the map of booklovers from all over the world, the Argentine writers will also become more internationally known as well.
In 1996, in order to promote books and reading, UNESCO launched the “World Book and Copyright day”. Because of to the huge success they decided to organise a “Year of the Book” as well, each year in another city, starting with Madrid in 2001.
To be elected the country must show that it has been promoting books and reading in the period between 2 World Book Days, and several criteria are handled to prove and check this. Three international organizations (International Publishers Association, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, and the International Booksellers Federation) then chose the right candidate.
The candidates that have been selected have come from all parts of the world, like Madrid and Antwerp, Alexandria, New Delhi, Montreal, Bogota, Beirut… and now Buenos Aires.
Through the year Buenos Aires will have a whole program of art and shows in relations to books. In general the “word” will be celebrated all year long.
The first piece of art on the program is the Tower of Babel (Torre de Babel), by the Argentine artist Marta Minujín. It is made out of 30,000 books. All types of books are included in this piece of art. From dictionaries and old software books to classic literature, and many other. They were donated by embassies from all over the world as well as by civil organizations and of course by lots of Argentine citizens. This mountain of books is 28 meter high and has 6 floors. It symbolizes the unification of all races throughout the world.
Today the 11th of May it will be inaugurated, and on the 28th, everyone can go to ‘demolish’ it and take a book home. So let’s all go there!
The Argentine hospitality, I have already written about that more then once. When at the same restaurants as our neighbours (whom we knew by sight only) they came to our table, asking if we’d want to come over to their house the next day to have a “lechón preparado en el horno de barro”. A piglet prepared in the mud oven.
The invitation came totally unexpected, and we didn’t really have time (at least I didn’t, I was supposed to study for my exam, which I have been putting off day after day) but what the heck, we never had a sucking pig in a mud oven, the neighbours seemed really nice, and I am quite convinced I’ll succeed for my exam anyhow, so we accepted.
After they had asked what our name is, they asked where our kids were. Yes. When you are invited to an asado, it is common to take your kids, even if they are not specifically included in the invitation. The Argentines always prepare so much meat that you could even take your parents and cousins (and they would be accepted with open arms!). There is always enough, and they will always find an extra chair of whatever to sit on and offer you the best chair of all. That might be necessary, as an asado always lasts for hours and hours. They had invited other neighbours as well and we were about 20 people sitting outside in the sun on this lovely autumn afternoon. While waiting for the pigs, we were served wine and choripán and the more wine we had the better my husbands Spanish became…
The neighbour looked at me in disbelieve when I asked him how this mud oven works. You really don’t know? Really! But he was more then happy to explain the whole process to me.
The mud oven looks like a little iglo, made out of mud (of course), with a little door. They put wood in it, and put it on fire. When the fire is dead, they remove the ashes. The oven is then so hot that if you put a piece of paper in it, it will set fire. Then it is ready to put the pig in and close the oven up, for two hours or even longer. Depending on the size of the pig, of course.
The pigs were absolutely delicious, and the company was great. After dinner we were offered té Burrito. It is supposed to be typical Argentine, the lady of the house said, but the other Argentines present didn’t know it either.
This is how you make it :
Take a can, put lots of sugar in it. Then take 3 or 4 pieces of charcoal (!) out of your(still hot) parrilla and put it into the sugar (preferably outside as it smokes a lot). In the meantime boil water, take it off the fire, put branches of burrito and of cedron in it and then poor it over the sugar with the charcoal. It looks dark brown almost black and it is absolutely delicious!
Burrito is also known as ‘Aloysia Polystichya’ and as ‘té Andino’. It is a digestive herb/tea. It tastes a bit like mint with a touch of celery. With the charcoal it also has a barbecue flavour. I loved it!
But now I am really wondering if anybody else has ever tasted this tea…. Charcoal in tea?! Does anybody know where the tea comes from?! Nothing on the internet!! All information is welcom!
It is said to be the most important horserace of the year. It was my first. Except from Ascot (on TV) and the (as far as I know) ‘would be Ascot’, Waregem Koerse (which I have never been to either), I know nothing about it. And even then, all I know is one should wear hats…
Here in the hipódromo in Palermo hats are not necessary, at least today they weren’t. Except maybe to protect you from rain and cold. It was definitely the coldest day of the year, it was freezing!!!! (is winter on its way?)
The entrance is free, you can have lunch inside, (but then you need a reservation, or maybe just be early), or just have a snack outside, meanwhile you can enjoy the races. Everyone seems to be betting, that is probably normal- We went to see the horses. How I love horses, and especially the power that moves them. Unfortunately they run so fast (just a second and they are gone), and then you have to wait another half an hour for another group of horses that passes by in a just a second. It is spectacular -although you probably see it better in slow motion on tv. The later in the day the more people arrive and the tenser the atmosphere gets during the races. Maybe we should have placed a bet too, and we would know what it is to be tensed…
A few pictures and a short video :
As Buenos Aires is a city in the ‘new world’ : it has a been build according to an architectural plan. It has a grid structure that is ever present, numbers jump per 100 each block, all very organised. Only here and there something went wrong and thus gave birth to a kind of alleys, little streets that are just 2 or 3 blocks long. They seem to be hidden and not many people notice them. Originaly they were not considered grand enough to live in and usually the less well off lived here. Later they became the place to be for artists.
One of these hidden alleys is Pasaje Bollini, between French and Pachego Melo, hidden in Recoleta. I had been there once, at night, but had absolutely no idea how to find it back although it is only a few blocks from my house. Once you enter the street you feel as if you are in another world. It is quiet (no passing traffic), the houses are small as well as the sidewalks, the street is made of old fashioned cobblestones. You could imagine you are in a street in a small town in the South of France, but you are in fact in the center of the metropolitan of Buenos Aires.
In Pasaje Bollini, there is a place that is called “La Dama de Bollini”. This is a small, cosy, and old fashioned bar restaurant where artists and musicians seem to gather. The menu is limited but the food is good. Although the service is slow, nobody cares, because no one wants to leave soon anyway. Every night there is some kind of a live performance. A tango show, tango lessons, a jazz band, or even folklore. The place is so small and packed that you feel as if the band is playing for you personally. You have the impression that the owner himself, La dama’s son Lionel Bollini, is cooking only your meal and only for you.
We’e tried it on a saturday (Jazz), but will definitely try the other nights out too as well.
La Dama de Bollini, Pasaje Bollini 2281 (between French and Pachego Melo)