By the time I settled on the idea of starting a blog to chronicle our family’s travels, we were already 2/3 of the way through our trip to Argentina, and I only managed to get one post and one “how-to” up on the blog. My plan was to write up our memories from our trip when we got back home and everything “got back to normal.”
As every parent/professor/person knows, “back to normal” is wildly busy and the tasks we save for “when everything gets back to normal” never get done. And so it was for those posts on Argentina and our cross-country road trip that I meant to write. As we are now preparing for our next adventure (T-1 day!), I figured I would write one big summary post about our fondest memories from Argentina.
Art, Architecture & Porteño Sophistication
We spent most of our stay in Buenos Aires in Recoleta. This well-heeled neighborhood brings together some really interesting contrasts in Argentine society: art deco cafes; high-end shops; the wonderfully quirky craft fair, also known as “the hippy fair” each Saturday; and Recoleta Cemetery, where Argentina’s political and cultural elite (Evita among them) are buried. The hippy fair and the cemetery were some of our favorite places in BA. The Recoleta Cemetery in particular is a wonderful place to while away an afternoon, taking in the different types of mausoleums, reading the plaques, and trying to piece together the lives of the interred. Pro tip: if you bring your 3 and 6 year old to a large cemetery and spend lots of time there, be prepared to talk about death, bodies, burial, cremation and religion. A lot.
More generally, we loved the mix of modern and classical art and architecture in Buenos Aires and that we could enjoy all of it with the kids in tow. One of the first and most memorable things we did in Buenos Aires was take a tour of the Teatro Colón. This is hands-down one of the most gorgeous performance spaces I’ve ever seen. The girls loved it, too. The ornate flooring, towering ceilings, plentiful mirrors (perfect for watching oneself twirl) and sheer fanciness of the theater delighted our little ladies. If “fancy” (e.g. early 20th century eclecticism) is your style, also be sure to check out the Ateneo Bookstore. Once a theater, it’s now a fabulous book store and cafe.
History & Human Rights
My interest in human rights was sparked by Argentine political history, and particularly the violence perpetrated by the Argentine military junta, back when I was an undergraduate studying Latin American history at Middlebury College, well before I ever
imagined making a career out of human rights research. Last year when I was in Argentina for work, I had the opportunity to meet one of the founders of the Madres de la Plaza de May. This year, while in Córdoba, I was able to visit the Museo de la Memoria. The violent legacy of the Argentine dictatorship and the work of groups like the Madres has had a profound effect on human rights policy and practice in Argentina, the region and beyond. It has certainly shaped my own career, and being able to witness these testaments to the strength of the human spirit in the face of tremendous adversity is a welcome reminder of why human rights research is important.
If systemic human rights violations are not something you want to dive into on vacation but you still want to infuse your visit with some political history, I would highly recommend checking out the Museum of Latin American Art (MALBA). It’s a fabulous collection that brings together some of my favorite Latin American artists and provides lots of opportunities to introduce kids to politics and history through exciting art.
The Beauty of Iguazú
After spending about 10 days in BA and Córdoba, we headed north to Iguazú falls. If you ever find yourself in Argentina, Brazil or Paraguay, make sure to carve out some time for Iguazú. It’s rumored that when Eleanor Roosevelt first laid on eyes on Iguazú, she exclaimed, “Poor Niagara.” And it’s true. We visited Niagara Falls earlier in the summer and while beautiful in its own right, it cannot compare to Iguazú. I had been to Iguazú back in 2002 when I was interning at the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo and had originally been reluctant to go back during this trip, but it was so worth the time and effort. The girls loved feeling like explorers in the sub-tropical jungle and getting up close (but not too close) to those pesky coatis. If you’re interested in learning more about Iguazú, I did a “how-to” post on how to get there, where to stay and what to expect.
Beef – check. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – check. Dulce de leche – check. Buttery medialunas – check. Mate – check. Wine – check. What’s not to love? But, vegetables – not so much.
I’m not sure when we will next be in Argentina, either for work or for play, but when the opportunity arises, I’m sure none of us will hesitate to take it! N has asked if we could go back next year. W, who is only 3, clearly has fond memories, too. Her preschool teacher told us that when it was her turn to ask the “question of the day” at lunch last week, she asked, “Have you ever been to Argentina?”