Saturday, May 30, 2009

Buenos Aires 23-30 May 2009

I was for the first time in Buenos Aires and in Argentina for the FIAF Congress. These are my first impressions of the mighty country.

I was impressed by the intelligence, culture and style of the Argentinians. The people I met were friendly and dignified. I wish I knew Spanish, as English is not very widely spoken in Argentina. Interestingly, though, there is a touch of British dignity in the Argentinian manners.

Our Congress took place in the San Nicolas Theatre District, on Avenida Corrientes, the Broadway of South America, which may be even bigger a theatre street than the Broadway of New York. There are big and evidently popular theatres of all kinds one after another. On a parallel street, Lavalle, there were also a lot of cinemas and multiplexes. There were lots of bookstores, cd stores, and dvd stores, and on almost every block there were magazine stands which also sold books, including volumes of Goethe and Cervantes.

There are many good restaurants, I never tired of the delicious bife de lomo, and Argentinian wines are excellent. I got to see street tango shows, but there was no chance to experience the famous nightlife.

I had the chance to visit the Recoleta, Palermo, and San Telmo districts, as well as Retiro and Microcentro. No one could miss the poverty, the homeless, and the beggars. Two of my colleagues became victims of theft on the day of arrival. Many streets and buildings are in bad shape, including the building where our Congress took place. In the mornings, as we arrived to start the daily session, we met homeless people, even families, sleeping on the sidewalk of the Congress building. Argentina is struggling mightily against economic adversity, and Argentinians are suffering and embarrassed by the dark sides of the current situation.

The world's grave economical injustice was dramatized daily. In San Telmo, beggars came to steal food from the restaurant table. The image of Argentina's rebel hero, Che Guevara, was ubiquitous.

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