Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Don't Cry for Me" Museum (Day 10 BA)

Honestly, I don't know quite to make of the life and times of Eva Peron (Evita). She was born as the "love child" of a wealthy estate manager with whom her mother had four older siblings. They never married. Young Eva was ambitious and left home at about age 15 to go to the big city of Buenos Aires to begin a career as a model, radio personality and eventually an actress. She met Colonel Juan Domingo Peron at a fundraiser - she was 24 and he was 48. Immediately they became inseparable. Eventually they married.   He became President. Along the way, she became very powerful.  She was a spokesperson for members and causes of the working class - they loved her.  She became an enemy of  the conservative Anglophile oligarchy - they hated her.
All I really wanted to see were her faboulous fashions! The Fodor's Guidebook said many were housed in a museum - the Museo Evita.  Our last day in BA we had just enough time to go.

The museum is housed in a gorgeous building built in 1909. The Fundacion de Ayuda Social Eva Peron (Eva Peron Social Aid Foundation) purchased the building in 1948 and converted it to home for unwed mothers, much to the dismay of wealthy, conservative neighbors nearby.
Fresh flowers and  lit candles are in the museum lobby under the painting of Evita.
Though she died at age 33 in 1952, her memory clearly lives on.

Now let's take a look at the actual clothing pieces and accessories Eva Peron wore.
Note the waistline with its zigzag points on this blue polka dot dress.

I love the side-tied sash on this dress.

Not only does the museum house many of her wonderful wardrobe pieces (oh the hats and shoes!), but it also has the social aid programs she instituted and her role in getting women the right to vote.

The ballot box
The museum has excellent film footage of Evita in her early acting career, giving her speeches (from balconies) and the final farewell to her as her open coffin was carried by carriage through the streets of Buenos Aires. Thousands of devastated mourners paid their final respects to her - so many, in fact, that the body had to be kept on view for thirteen days before this twenty block, three hour march.

How does one sort the fact from the fiction? Once home, I headed to the library and found this book by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro.
Certainly this was a more in-depth telling of the life and times of Evita with facts, politics and timeless photos.  Was she the Spiritual Leader of the Nation?  Or "that ambitious, unscrupulous woman" referred to by those who hated her?

The only thing I know for certain about her is that I liked her taste in outfits, shoes and hats.
She had style!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Colorful La Boca (Day 9 BA)

La Boca was the city's first port and originally home to settlers immigrating from Italy. They built their homes from corrugated metal and brightly colored paint left over from the shipyards.
Cafes,  pubs and general stores then catered to passing sailors.  Now the tourists are the mainstay of the area...yep, that's us!
And we had so much fun here.

Doesn't this look like a fun place to eat delicious steak while watching tango (and other Latin American) dancers? We thought so, too.

After each dance "set" the dancers would come to the table with an upside-down hat to collect their tips. We persuaded this young, beautiful  tango dancer to pose with us. Considering that the staged tango extravaganzas in the city cost about $180.00 US dollars per person, we saved a tremendous amount here.  And the experience was much more up-close and personal.

As we left colorful La Boca I spotted just the right thing to keep the memory alive
once back home again - this watercolor street scene painted by Veronica (pictured below).

Seeing as we returned to freezing temperatures and snow on the ground, I am going
to be looking at this painting frequently. Very frequently.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Big News Day! (Day 8 BA)

Little did we know when waking up today that we would be a part of Argentina's history! All we knew is that we had two site visits, the first being to Medtronic, a company that manufactures and sells heart-related medical devices.

I enjoyed this visit with its hands-on look at a simulation of a heart catheter procedure, seeing as I had been a recipient of a procedure similar to this myself a few years ago. However, this "patient" didn't whine one bit as I probably did back then. Sigh. Now it was time to get on our mini bus for the second site visit of the day.


The second site visit was to Dow AgroSciences in a modern
skyscraper building.  This was our most corporate visit of the trip.  Quite formal in round table lecture format and these
presenters were Wall Street types.  At the end of a short break, news broke that a new Pope had been selected --- from ARGENTINA!!

Once this announcement was made, the concentration level dropped dramatically. The presenters were near tears with emotion and made remarks that this news was indeed very very good news not only on a personal level but for the country as a whole.
We left the building with amped-up steps as well!
Though we were only able to do a drive-by of the Cathedral Metropolitana on March 13, we knew we were witnessing something that would forever impact the timeline of important events in Beunos Aires, Argentina and all of South America..
The following day we HAD to go back to observe more of the history unfolding.
The street we had driven on yesterday afternoon was now closed to traffic.  Note all the white news tucks with their satellite dishes.  I'm guessing the taxi had dropped off an important person to the Cathedral.

There were lines forming at the front entrance to get inside the Cathedral. Cameras and cell phones were pointed at this picture of the new Pope and requests were made to get a picture taken standing next to his image. This was living history!
The Cathedral was abuzz with visitors sitting in filled pews, walking through the aisles. Tears and genuflection. Cameras snapping, footage taken by newscasting crews. On-the-street interviews.
Nearly every stretch of sidewalk in BA has a newspaper and magazine stand. This picture was taken BEFORE the big news came out. Once the announcement came out about the new Pope being from Argentina, these stands became very busy. Papers were selling out; luckily we jumped on it and brought two home. The calendars, pins and rosary beads we left for others to buy.

Here's another front page special.

Perhaps this was the high point of the trip as far as history is concerned.
Blessings to you, Francis I.  I, for one, am grateful you are from South America and I think millions
would agree.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Two Kinds of Cast-Offs (Day 7 BA)

Knitters cast off when finishing a project. Sometimes a figurative cast-off occurs when a student is not thriving in the school system and for various reasons quits and never completes her/his high school education.  Enter the nonprofit group cimientos.  This was our site visit today.
Their mission is to select students considered high-risk for non-completion of education.
Regular mentoring, counseling and financial aid are given to these students.
We were able to meet one of the recipients of this service and she is now in medical school and on her way to becoming a doctor.  It was a story that moved me very, very much.

Let's move on now to the cast-off concerning yarn.

Karen was very diligent in her research about yarn shops in Buenos Aires. She found the yarn district was actually on our way back from the site visit so, with Jack, we got off the mini bus and walked to yarn nirvana.

Wes was thrilled beyond measure that he couldn't accompany us on this trip to the yarn district.
This young gentleman was so helpful in one of the shops, and very patient with our Spanish language deficiencies. I bought some very special yarn here.
My favorite yarn shop was this one - piles and piles of "sari" yarn on the floor. Unfortunately, I had to leave it there! I did buy a few specialty buttons and a wooden stick and round disc for securing knitted accessories together instead of using a button or knot.

Another particular yarn shop had a huge swan in the window made from white yarn.

Know the funny thing about going to the yarn district?  I'm not even a knitter.
Apparently, when in Buenos Aires yarn district I can shop like a knitter.  Cast ON, anyone?
(Is that the terminology for putting yarn on a knitting needle when beginning?)