Argentina


Following our crossing we pushed on to Neuquen. Neuquen sits in the heart of Argentina's rich oil fields, and about the only vehicles we saw between Pino Hachado and there were a dozen or so oil tankers and their military escort. We had the name of another Mapuche organizer in Neuquen, but we had no more success there than we had in Temuco. We were able to get an interview with two representatives of a Mapuche group that ran a provincial bilingual language program. We learned from them that the reason that there was nobody available from the Mapuche Confederation in Neuquen is that there was a large gathering of indigenous groups at a week-long convocation in Buenos Aires. Since it was cold and windy on the high plains we decided to push  on to Bs. As. and try to catch the final day. After two long days of brutal wind with a stop-over in Bahia Blanca we rolled into Buenos Aires late on Thursday evening. The Pampas are pretty amazing, and I wish it hadn't been so damned windy so we could of enjoyed it more. It was so windy in fact that each of our bikes blew over in seperate incidents when they were parked. The Pampas did however provide the first glimpse at the Argentine obsession with beef. We experienced nearly a thousand miles of endless herds, and about 90% of the trucks we saw were hauling cattle. The meat here is among the best I've ever had, and a top sirloin runs about $2.
Although we had missed the greatest part of the indigenous discussions that were being held at the law faculty of the University of Buenos Aires, we were able to get an interview with Teodora Zamudio, the attorney and professor of law that organized the event. We also had the chance to film a statement from Lorenzo Cejas Pincén, a Mapuche Lonko from La Pampa. We had planned to spend just a few days in Buenos Aires and then push on to Brazil, but after a month and a half in Chile the food in Buenos Aires is so good that we find ourselves still here a week later. But that is only part of the story; the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the city itself are reasons enough to pass at least that much time here. The Argentinians do theings on a grand scale, and Buenos Aires is the proof. Below is a picture of Avenida 9 de Julio. It is perhaps the widest avenue on earth. It is 16 lanes wide, with an additional 3 lanes in each direction on two "frontage" streets on each side. Standing on one side, the buildings on the other side of the street are a block away. A person must cross the street in stages. The building on the opposite side is the Teatro Colon, an opera house that occupies an entire square block.
Built at the turn of the century, the Colon originally imported all of its hand-painted backdrops from Italy. In 1972 an addition was completed to house spare costumes and sets, as well as tailor, shoemaker, seamstress, carpenter, and other workshops. The addition is three stories tall and is 120 feet below the street in front of us. Inside the building, they only allow photographs in the outer lobby.
This detail on the end of the banister on the main stairway is made from pink marble imported from Portugal. All of the many varieties of marble as well as the stained-glass skylights were imported from Europe.
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