Weekends are for socialising and the porteños, as the locals are called, love to eat out any time of the day. That said they love socialising so this isn’t only reserved for the weekends, on the contrary. Often working days end at 7 o’clock or later so dining out is a late affair here. They also enjoy spending their leisure time in their parks and they do have some wonderful parks i Buenos Aires.
Here I’m in sea of roses in El Rosedal de Palermo. This park is spread out in about 3 hectares and have some 18 000 roses planted here.
Saturday and Sunday markets are also popular to visit. This is one of the best Sunday market, Feria de Artisans de Plaza Francia in Recoleta. They sell high quality craftsmanship and artisan products such as jewellery, pottery, artwork and leather goods.
Pretty impressive tree in Plaza Francia.
The Japanese garden or Jardín Japonés de Buenos Aires, is one of the largest Japanese gardens of its kind in the world outside Japan, set in the large Parque Tres de Febrero. Here a zen-like water installation.
Buenos Aires has a lot of great museums too. I managed to visit a few. Museo Eduardo Sivori in Palermo had an exhibition of the Argentine photographer Gaby Herbstein, showing wonderful dreamlike scenarios. My favourite word in Spanish is sueño, which means dream or sleep/slumbering. This amazing photo is the one I liked the most and it’s called “Entre sueños mi alma se eleva” (Between dreams my soul rises).
In MAMBA, Museo de Arte Moderno, they have a permanent exhibition of famous South American artists.
They also had a fun and playful temporary exhibition, recreated of an exhibition they had in the 60’s. Here is a photo from the original exhibition, as I was too surprised to take one. As I rounded a corner there was unexpectedly a real bed with a couple lying in it, calmly chatting with each other, seemingly oblivious of everyone who had to squeeze past the bed in order to continue. It really felt like I had stumbled into their private (and tiny) bedroom and not as a part of an exhibition!
MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, is a stylish museum which opened in the middle of the economic crises, with the aid of a donation by the art collector and businessman Eduardo F. Costantini.
They have a large collection of Latin American art from the twentieth century. My favourite Frida Kahlo. Can’t wait to see her studio in Mexico!
They also had a really strong temporary exhibition when I went there by Francis Alÿs, a Belgian-Mexican architect and performance artist, called “Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River”.
“On 12 August 2008, a line of kids each carrying a boat made out of a shoe leaves Europe in the direction of Morocco, while a second line of kids with shoe-boats leaves Africa in the direction of Spain. The two lines will meet on the horizon.”
Cutting close to the core, as in Europe tragedies where immigrants are drowning in the Mediterranean, sadly often occur. This exhibition really touched me. Bridges are needed between countries, between people…
Another artwork statement of him called “The Cut”, is exploring the relation between painting and action. Quite brutal eh?
Find out more about Francis Alÿs here.
Polo is a popular sport among the upper class, brought here by the British colonisers who practised it on the pampas. I went to the semi finals of the Argentine Polo Open in Palermo, with friends I met studying Spanish, Peter and Julie. The polo field is located in Las Cañitas. At one time I guess it was on the outskirts but since then the town has grown and now it’s surrounded by residential buildings. We didn’t understand much of the rules but we enjoyed watching the eight horses, four in each team, race across the vast polo field.
Each game is divided in to 7 minute long heats called chukkas. Even during the game the riders change horses by throwing themselves on a fresh horse directly from the back of the one they just used, in this fast paced, and I can imagine, quite exhausting game. It’s also a pretty injury prone sport too, as the game was halted in regular intervals for the ambulance to be able to race in to attend one or the other rider. Nothing serious apparently as the game always continued. Evidently polo runs in the family, it’s something that you are born into. Not unusual that a whole team consists of members of the same family. We decided, in order to get into the spirit of the game, to cheer on the same team as the old Argentine man sitting next to me did. So we rejoiced when the team scoured and grumbled when the other team did. Quite fun. We didn’t win though much to his disappointment.
I discovered quite early why the price of the tickets we chose were cheaper, rather than the tickets for the stands on the opposite side of the polo field, as the day progressed and the sun continued to pound down on us. There were shady trees there and the main stand opposite us had a roof. Ours didn’t. The wide-brimmed hats that women use at these events have its uses after all. As I was feeling the heat wave, I had to give up earlier than my friends and left them to continue to enjoy this very classic and grand event.
Went ”backstage” or ”backfield” in this case to look at the horses that were kept ready for action by their handlers. The teams that competed today were evidently wealthy as they had many horses on standby. The Argentine polo horses are esteemed to be the world’s best. I went before I felt like a total polo groupie…
Something else the porteños seem to enjoy a lot is their Mate, or Yerba Mate, almost like a national drink. Actually it’s a very popular drink in the whole of South America. It tastes like a bitter tea, is made from a wild-growing plant from the same family as holly. They drink this infusion of mate and hot water throughout the day, using a small gourd and a metall straw called bombilla.
It’s not unusual to see them carrying around these objects with the obligatory thermos flask of hot water under their arm, ready to top up the gourd. This keeps them going the whole day as it’s packed with the mildly stimulating effects of caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Drinking mate is a social activity, sharing a mate gourd amongst friends is as natural as sharing talks about their daily lives, the latest football match and other important events. The photo is from a beach in Uruguay but the artefacts are the same.
Now it’s time to leave Buenos Aires and head to Uruguay. Two wonderful months here went by way too fast. Thank you all my new friends who generously opened your homes to me! So nice to have met every one of you! ¡Hasta la vista!
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer