Hayley Jasinski: Savoring the True Culture of Buenos Aires

Day 6

The day started off with one of many bus rides, and we were headed back La Boca. Since there was rain forecasted, we decided to give everyone another chance to splurge on souvenirs and trinkets. My group was fortunate enough to fall into enough of the tourist traps yesterday that we chose to visit the Benito Quinquela Martin Museum. At the beginning of the day, I was majorly disappointed that we were missing the Le Tigre tour, but soaking in an art museum was the best possible way to make up for it. The first floor of this three story building was a lobby connected to an elementary school, which Martin sponsored and funded. The second floor was a collection of galleries dedicated to the La Boca neighborhood; this meant there were no abstract pieces, and this floor was curated in order for each visitor to recognize the sights of the neighborhood in every work. When we were admiring this floor, a museum staff member asked us if we wanted a tour of the top floor, and seeing that we had enough time, we said yes, of course. Once the group congregated, we make our ascent and found that the third floor was Martin’s residency. When he was still living, museum visitors were able to see him painting in his studio and mentor his countless students, the future of the city. Now, the third floor is filled with his works, furniture, tools, and personal belongings. Not only were all of the walls painted to reflect the colors of the neighborhood, with walls ranging from orchid purple to sea foam green to fire truck red, they also reflected the colors of Martin’s life. Our guide described him as “loco, with a few screws loose.” In addition to being quite eccentric, he gave away large amounts of money to advance the neighborhood that had given everything to him. He sponsored elementary and high schools, a children’s dental hospital, and a maternity clinic in addition to his museum. He is considered one of the most influential Argentine painters and it was incredible to see such an eclectic and unique museum.

Our next stop was another lunch buffet, La Bistecca. The red, subway-tiled walls, black and white floors, and lustrous chocolate fountains added to the modern appeal of this restaurant. After eating as much as we could, we took off and made our way to Azucar, a nightclub that hosts salsa lessons during the daytime. After showing off a bit, the dancers of the club taught us basic bachata and salsa moves. Many of these moves were similar to the moves Danceworks taught us at our February pre-tour meeting, but it felt much more genuine to be in an Argentine club with dancers who specialized in this regional style of dance. The final stop of the afternoon was the El Ateneo bookstore, a converted opera-house turned cinema turned bookstore of the gods. Within the four floors of this literature wonderland, there were all types of media, from classics, to maps, to vinyl records, to picture books, and everything in between. Considered one of the most important bookstores in the world, it was mind-blowing to visit such an exquisitely beautiful bookstore.

Lastly, we attended our most anticipated tango show and dinner. Since the tango teacher called in sick, we agreed to take our lesson tomorrow evening and had our seats upgraded. The dinner we were treated to was three courses: a starter, an entrée, and a dessert, which is relatively short for an Argentine meal. All of the dishes were plated like a dish that would be found on the Food Network, and all of them tasted that delicious, as well. The tango show started soon after dinner was finished, and all of my preconceptions of what the show fell away. The dancers started off with a full set of La Boca, the birthplace of this iconic dance. After these couple dances, there were a few more full sets, including a dressing room and a forest, but there were many acts with a single couple. True to the history of the tango, there was one act with two men. There were also two spectacular singers, one man and one woman. The orchestra was featured twice, and they were phenomenal. Their medleys included songs such as Danzon No. 2, Libertango, and Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, which many of us recognized and cheered for. There were many different tones between all of the dances, and the show was a new take on the history of the area.

Since we don’t have another concert for another few days, we can expect more full days of sightseeing and experiences, so I’ll leave it at that! Argentina certainly isn’t crying for us: we’re only crying because we’re past the halfway point of our trip. With so many learning experiences already, we can only expect more!

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