March 18, 2008

Museo del Inmigrante, Bowen–Immigrant Museum, Bowen

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Argentina's rail system has been defunct since the 1990s, and when I win the lotto, I'll invest my winnings in reviving the whole thing, just so I can travel the country by train.  There are limited train routes running for tourists, but most of the old routes are not operational.

The rail system used to run cross-country, bringing tourists, travelers and cargo from one place to the other.  Mendoza produces grapes, wine, plums, apples, quince, olives and olive oil, peaches, and vegetables.  These goods still go out all over the country, but are now transported by diesel truck.  Many a Bowen resident drives a rig, because Bowen is a good in-between place to live.

The door on the left says 'sala de espera, boleteria'-it was a waiting room and ticket counter.  The door on the right says simply 'JEFE', which means 'BOSS'.  I find that very humorous, don't you?

The door is tall-probably 8 feet or more.  I just imagine the 'boss man' being a short, persnickety man with a Napoleon complex, working in this little farming village and going in and out of his own special BOSS entrance every day with an air of disdain.  Probably a complete fabrication, but nonetheless, I wish I had a door that said JEFE on it!  (even if the only thing I'm the BOSS of is the housework!)

The train station sat vacant and abandoned all this time until about a year and a half ago, when it was converted into an Immigration Museum, (Museo del Inmigrante) documenting the different immigrant groups (mostly Ukrainian, Russian, and Italian), that settled and farmed the area around Bowen.

Someone also lives there!  One area that was part of the train station has been converted into a living space, the 'caretaker' lives there for free in exchange for taking care of the museum.  When I say converted, I don't mean refurbished, as they do in the US, when they convert an old funky warehouse into a set of loft residences.  It's more like squatting, and I'd guess they probably chose the side with plumbing.  They also keep chickens, which are busy running around pecking at the dirt outside behind the museum. They are truly free range!

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6 Responses to “Museo del Inmigrante, Bowen–Immigrant Museum, Bowen”

  1. Loving these photo tours and accompanying stories. It’s so interesting and informative, especially for those of us who have never visited Argentina. Keep up the good work!

  2. I had no idea that Bowen had its own museum! With several immigrant groups represented, I’m guessing that the local cooking probably reflects the various cultures of the people who’ve passed through the area. So interesting.

  3. You are so right that a short man probably had the 8 foot door. ha!

  4. This is fascinating – and I love the image of the tiny El JEFE!

  5. I just found you through The Perfect Pantry. What a wonderful photo and story! I wonder if Paul Theroux traveled through Bowen when he took trains from Boston to Patagonia and wrote The Patagonian Express.

  6. I’m enjoying these photos a lot!
    Paz

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