Category Archives: Architecture and Oddities

Sleeping with the Fishes

The Chacarita Cemetery is essentially a small town (9 x 9 city blocks or so?) whose spiderwebbing streets are lined with grandiose mausoleums ranging from traditional neoclassical style to slick funeral-parloresque art deco to swirly art nouveau. I killed about an hour there before getting completely creeped out and heading back the land of the living, although I had to think– why get buried when you could spend eternity in one of these?

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Places to Park

Tigre, the River ‘burb

img_4677On Friday I went out to Tigre, where Sofia shares a riverfront house with her father and brothers. You get there by bus to train to ferry, and as soon as  you get to the ferry, you realize how important Tigre is to Porteño culture. Every walk of life is waiting for the ferry, with as many 5 gallon jugs, jukeboxes, coolers, and bottles of malbec that they can carry, (nice rhyme, thanks), eager to get off the hot mainland and lost in the network of chocolate milk-colored canals and green lushery. This guy was there with his cat.

Once the line starts moving, you give a ferryman your address, and he puts you on the appropriate boat, throwing your bags, your water jugs, and your dog, if you have one, onto the “roof” of the ferry, and you’re off. Hooray for fresh air! (I’m pretty sure the cat got to ride in the cabin).

img_4772 Cruising along, I am of course immediately dazzled, surprised! by the houses… they are all built on stilts! The river rises and recedes due to sediment deposits (I think) in the Rio de la Plata so most of the homes are built to accommodate such ebb and flow. It would be so interesting to design a house for this part of the world, and believe me, people are genius with their buildings here. Several homes have concrete picnic tables, brick ovens, and steel swings built-in. Its so cool that it all goes underwater at some point.

Here we are at Sofia’s house which was not built on stilts, so the kitchen disappears in the deluge once in a while. Pretty crazy.

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Canoeing is a typical way to while away a day, which usually consists of, other than canoeing, eating (yeah), reading, talking, and sleeping. Here were are doing the paddle:

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The river, is brown, and I didn’t swim. Total wussy.

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You have to meet Bumbi. She is the wild, “neighborhood” dog who was born near Sofia’s house and comes back to visit, and eat, weekend after weekend, year after year. She runs all over the place, swimming in the river from side to side, collecting handouts and generally being sweet. Here, she helps Dámian with the grilling.

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And to get home, its hard on a Sunday night. The ferries practically sink trying to accommodate the masses trying to get back to the city. Here we are waiting.

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And.. some more houses, I like ’em.

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Houses in el Barrio Colegiales

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The Architecture and the Botanicals

My god, the things I try to grow in tiny terracotta pots in New York are full-on trees here. Check out this African violet growing around the garbage baskets that line the streets here:

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Emily and I have one of these growing (I hope) in our kitchen. Here, they are mammoth trees lining the street. This is a small one:

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Were I to have nine lives I would definitely spend one of them in Buenos Aires as an architect. The clash of European and Latin American architectural styles is fascinating. You’ll see a big old stone neoclassical thing adjacent to a slick glassy modern facade, attached to a stained, shack-like gateway entering into a gorgeous, rustic patio with plants all over the place. A lot of good graffiti, too.

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This is the perfect white house with the fig tree in front that I wish were mine. Wah.

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Then there’s this guy who lives in his van. No one bothers him and he’s spread his laundry and kitchen all over the sidewalk!

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