Thursday, January 19, 2006

 

Buenos Aires


My first impression of BsAs was the heat and humidity, the crowded six lane freeway running about 40 miles in from the airport, the crazy drivers, the ten story apartment buildings everywhere. BsAs is an immense city, sprawling at the edges, but compressed towards the center. Coming off the freeway onto 9 de Julio, the main drag into the city centre, the character of the "city" began to emerge. The closer to the center, the more unique the style, the age, the architecture. There were quite a few new high rises scattered around, but the predominant buildings in the major streets of the "old town" are from the 30s and 40s, with large gray stone block sidings, tall windows on the ground floors, and grand portico entrances often with doormen posted just inside. The commercial district was much more chaotic, with storefront displays spilling out onto the wide sidewalks, which were packed with people.

My first impression was how much the city called to mind parts of Washington D.C., with splashes of New Orleans and San Francisco. Also a taste of Paris and Madrid. All in all, very unique, and very much its own city. I was entranced every time I went to the city, and would spend hours wandering its streets, watching the crowds, the storefronts, the kioskos, the street scenes. Each neighborhood had its own character, its own style of architecture, its unique stores and kioskos, its own types of people. We liked to scour all the main streets of each new neighborhood looking at the stores, the restaurants, the public buildings. We'd walk so much that we'd be dead tired by the end of the day - which ended quite late because you couldn't eat supper till 10:00.

All in all over the year and half we lived in Argentina, we spent about 6 weeks in the city, which meant lots of walking. Supposedly the city was "dangerous" for tourists who walked the city at night. That was a relative term, since their crime rate (at that time) was far lower than most cities in the US even at their best. [It's different now in Buenos Aires, because of their economic decline -robberies and kidnappings are way up.] I never once felt the slightest hint of danger, no matter where we roamed in the city, nor whom we talked to.

Cello Stuff
Worked at Suzuki, the same pieces, for two hours, with slightly better results. I've been reading an interesting book by John Holt, who took up the cello at age 40. His perceptions and discussions of how music affected him strike a chord for me. He wrote the book in 1978 at age 55. He died seven years later. Inspirational.

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