July 4, 2008

Argentina Photo of the Week-The España, General Alvear


The España was the movie theater in General Alvear, but as fewer people went out to see movies and stayed in to watch cable, it disappeared. It’s being used to hold Evangelical church services, a re-invented use.  Argentineans are so good at using and re-using and re-inventing, like that old proverb about necessity being the mother of invention.  It makes me pause and think–as Americans we tend to be a ‘disposable society’–there are so few good quality things that last, or things that have real value and are kept ‘forever’.  But there, they are the ultimate recyclers–they re-use even old movie theaters! 

When I first met Guillermo he was living in a 9-story apartment building in downtown Denver where residents would frequently move and throw away perfectly good things, which he would ‘rescue’ and bring to his own apartment.  (Because why would you throw away something that’s in perfectly good working order?)  He had a large walk-in closet that was great for hiding all these found treasures away, so you can imagine what surprises I discovered when we went to move!  A collection of wayward mis-matched chairs, bulky wood frames (these are still awaiting a good use, but now they are in a different closet at a different apartment.)  It’s not that he was using these tossed things, either, but he just couldn’t stand the thought of them something being thrown away unless it really needed to be.  (He also still gets a thrill from free samples, whether it’s something he needs or no–rather than finding them a nuisance, as I do.)

I try to understand, given who I am and where I come from (and where we live) the lack that some people have there–especially in the rural areas of Argentina.  Coming from a place of such abundance and consumption sometimes it’s impossible to understand–so many times I have said “Well, why don’t you just buy an ‘x’ to fix that problem?” And the thing will be unavailable altogether or else incredibly expensive. (Like buying my mother-in-law a microwave, which was going to cost almost $300!)  Or anything that has any possible use (even a different one that it was originally intended for) is snatched up and used.  With that in mind, we try to buy used things whenever possible, re-use what we can and reduce what we buy.

With that in mind, here are this month’s Amazon recommendations:

Movie:  The Motorcycle Diaries-starring Gael Garcia Bernal.  If you haven’t seen this yet, don’t stop until you do, and if you have, take another look.  The story of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara ( ‘revolutionary’ and ‘founding father’ of Cuba) as a young man in Argentina.  He and his best friend take a 6-month journey on an old Norton (my father-in-law used to own one with a side-car!) motorcycle throughout South America.  They have many misadventures, but what impacts young Ernesto (a medical student at the time) is the poverty and injustice he sees in the places he visits.

Music: Mercedes Sosa-“La Negra” (because of her dark hair) is Argentina’s most beloved folk singer.  She has been exiled and then returned to Argentina and is known as the ‘voice of the voiceless’-her songs often reflect the issues of the country’s poor and downtrodden.  But her voice will make your soul take wings–deep, throaty and passionate, it soars above it all.

Book: The Motorcycle Diaries-by Ernesto Che Guevara-Read the book that inspired the film!  Guevara kept a diary on that trip.  The book chronicles everything he experiences in a way the film can’t.

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3 Responses to “Argentina Photo of the Week-The España, General Alvear”

  1. I’ll second your recommendation of The Motorcycle Diaries — the book, and the film. Puts much of what I experienced on my visit to Cuba into context.

  2. Very cool recommendations. I remember when the movie came out. I didn’t get a chance to see it.

  3. I also liked that movie, it even inspired a couple of my friends to do the same trip on their motorcycle(I was so envious), they had an awesome time but without all the “incidents”.

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