Friday, March 20, 2009

Blog Post Number 14: Congreso and the Protests

March 16 – 18

The beginning of another week and we go to the gym. It feels good to work out, and with every sit-up and every curl Yamil says “bien” – giving us the encouragement we need to keep going. And David has cut back on his Spanish lessons, no longer attending the 4 times-a-week university class (too much like going to work, he says) but sticking with his tutor. I’m happy about this because he’s my mid-day play mate again.

On Tuesday we go to lunch with Kevin and Rick, and then 3 of us take the bus to the Palacio del Congreso (Congress), which is modeled after the US Congress (as is their model of government). The building and the statue in the plaza are 2 more examples the richly ornate architecture found in this area. At 4:00, a tour of the building is given in English so we decide to kill an hour and then take the tour.

We walk toward the Palacio Barolo (white dome), admiring the opulent early 20th century buildings with French architectural lines that are plentiful in this area of the city.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear I was walking down a Parisian boulevard!

As office buildings go, the Palacio Barolo is a knockout! Designed by an Italian architect in the “spirit” of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, it’s said that the building’s “afterlife” begins in basement-level “hell and climbs 22 floors through purgatory up to heaven”!

The interior lobby is ornate; bronze dragons, marble walls and antique elevators.

We ride to the 12th floor and walk 2 flights up the winding marble staircase

to Tango Moda, one of BA’s premiere shops for buying tango apparel. Beautiful clothing…

but we are definitely not ready to invest in tango-wear; we haven’t even taken a tango lesson. The aerial view of the city from the 14th floor is outstanding.

As we head back for the tour we realize there are thousands of people headed in the same direction. We hear firecrackers and bigger “booms” (which we initially think are gunshots), see an abundance of police, TV cameras and people carrying signs and banners. There are pamphlets falling from the sky like confetti and realize we are walking toward the epicenter of a demonstration!

The demonstrators (representing butchers union) stop and gather in front of the Congress, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there will be no more tours today. We feel perfectly safe…but decide it’s time to head home. Check out the video below:

We walk down the Avenida Callo, a particularly busy street where a dearth of pedestrians, cars and buses are an assault on the senses! But, in spite of this, there is something vibrant about the city…we feel so comfortable here.

Wednesday is gym day again…we set the alarm for 8:00 a.m. – way to early to be working out, but we are committed!! David has his tutor late morning, and I have an art lesson from 3-7 (these are my painting “girlfriends” and instructor Gustavo).

Wednesday night is movie night, so we catch a 10:30 movie (Clint Eastwood - Gran Torino).

1 comment:

  1. So, which painting is yours and what did you think of Gran Torino? I liked it a great deal and I don't always like Clint. Was it dubbed or in English with Spanish sub-titles?
    Viva le butchers! What were they marching for - better wages, better beef?