13 April 2007 by Published in: in my life 3 comments

I’m back from my travels. It’s good to be home, though it was a little hard to leave. It always is. There is some part of me that always wants to move back to Buenos Aires. I usually quiet that part by promising it “someday”. I couldn’t say whether I am lying.

My trip was wonderful. This is the perfect time of year to go, too, even though you get a lot of rain.

I ate way too much. Man, Argentine ice cream is just better than American ice cream. Hands down. No contest. Don’t know if they’re shameless with the cream or what. That can’t be the whole answer, though, because the water flavors are better too (what do you call water flavors in English? Sorbets?). Also, the cheese is better. I mean the lowest grade mozzarella cheese you get on the cheapest pizza you can lay your hands on is better than nine out of ten American mozzarellas. What is up with that? My British friend theorizes that we’re out of control with pasteurization in this country, and that takes all the taste out. I’m pretty sure Argentine cheeses are pasteurized, too. Food is, as ever, plentiful and cheap and the anchor of most social interactions.

I’d kind of forgotten how dramatic Argentines are (insofar as cultural stereotypes serve, you know). They lay on the superlatives pretty thick. Sophia was the most beautiful child they had ever seen and the bus driver not stopping at the proper stop was the most heinous tragedy and I’ve been missed like an aching wound and don’t even joke with anyone whose soccer team lost this weekend because soccer is a very serious business indeed. It all seemed right, familiar, and expected, I just hadn’t ever analyzed the behavior for what it was : high drama. I’d forgotten about it completely when not immersed.

I went to my first soccer game. When I lived there, I could never go, because of being a girl and safety issues and overprotective parents. Watched plenty of soccer on tv. Played plenty of pickup soccer games. Actually going to the stadium? Never happened. Until now. We went to see my neighborhood team, All Boys. It was awesome. I got a special price break for being a chick (though actually, my brother paid for the tickets, so he got a price break for me being a chick). So yeah, if you’re jubilado or female, it costs less to attend a soccer game. Who knew?

I took a million pictures of “El Olimpo” and thought about my failed story “Olympus”. I think the main problem I need to tackle is this story cannot be linear. It’s gotta be Billy Pilgrim style, unstuck to time. I’m no Vonnegut (may he rest in peace) and I’m not sure I can pull it off, but I shall have to try. It was strange to stand there with a camera. I kept expecting someone to confront me about it and I was nervous in a way that must have been ingrained a long time ago. I have to tell you what happened while I took pictures. A woman and a girl came walking up the sidewalk. She looked no older than Sophia, five maybe six, and she had short curly brown hair. She bounced as she walked. “Este lugar fue donde los malos mataron a los buenos,” she announced to the woman walking with her, without preamble. Her mother (if that’s what she was, there was a family resemblance) made a noncommittal noise: a could have been yes, could have been no, could have been way more complicated noise. “Pero solo si salian a la calle,” the small girl elaborated. Her voice sounded loud to me, even shrill. I stifled the impulse to look around, to note whether she’d been overheard by anyone besides myself and the woman. Who had told her about this building? I don’t think it was the lady accompanying her, with the dark circles under her eyes. Did she learn about it at school? I can’t imagine a teacher explaining about lynchings or the Trail of Tears or other infamous times in our country in the first grade. I wondered what was inside her head, this child who had been born long after democratic rule was regained. Did she think the dictatorship had been a Western showdown? Good guys in white hats, bad guys in black ones? I might have said, “Donde los malos mataron a los inocentes”, though even that oversimplifies, blurs the line between those few who were actual armed guerrillas and those many who got caught in the wide cast net of suppression. And really, girl, who told you people were safe in their houses?

How am I ever going to explain how deep this goes with just words? I have no idea.

Side view of the Olimpo
Photo lifted from here (mine are not processed yet, though I may edit the entry to add mine later).


Sat 14th Apr 2007 at 12:30 am

Can you elaborate (or give me something that I can look up on Wikipedia) about what happened at this place? I’m way more up on Chile and Ecuador than I am on Argentina and I’m a little lost.

Having a little girl tell me it’s where the bad guys killed the good guys, but only if they went out, along with "El Olimpo," doesn’t quite get me there.

Sat 14th Apr 2007 at 12:31 am

(also I’m very glad you’re back)

Mon 16th Apr 2007 at 8:45 pm

I just wandered through your photos of the trip…wow. Clearly I need to add Buenos Aires to my list of eventual destinations. The art…that mosaic of the seraph is just stunning. And the statuary in the Botanical Gardens. Just…wow.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress