Back from Buenos AiresEleven-hour flight from Ezeiza international airport to JFK, arriving Sunday morning; sleep to catch up on, nearly 400 e-mails (some of them important), so no blog up till now. Here I'll summarize a few highlights of the trip.
First, spirits were generally much better in Argentina than on my last visit, 2 1/2 years ago -- the crisis of December 2001 (devaluation, sequestering of everybody's bank accounts, plummeting of the economy in all areas) was the absolute pits, and now, even though violent crime is still rampant, unemployment high, and thousands try to scrape together a living by going out at night to gather recyclables from the garbage, people seemed generally to believe that they're going to get through this and that Argentina will become a normal, self-sufficient country once again.
Some people: The artist Catalina Chervin, whose painstaking drawings (see URL below) concentrate and focus cataracts of pain and somehow help her, and viewers like me, to cope with them, opened her house (a multifloor apartment in Palermo, with a terrace on which she has constructed a well-lit studio) to us and our and her friends for a welcoming party.
Among them was her partner, the elegant Isidoro Polonsky, sociologist, psychoanalyst and cattle rancher (it's hard to live from psychoanalysis alone in today's Argentina). We're grateful to Isidoro for lending us his apartment near the U.S. embassy while he camped with Catalina.
Among the old friends were Carlota Gershanik, who practically grew up with my accomplice Susana, and Carlota's husband Mario Vacchino, recently retired from his job as a CEPAL executive and now devoting himself to more useful pursuits, like cooking -- as we discovered later, when we had a meal at their house. Mario is really a culinary artist. Carlota -- a former mathematics professor -- has invented a new career for herself. She founded and directs an efficient little company that provides Internet drafting services worldwide (I don't have the URL handy; contact me if you're looking for exquisitely careful work at Argentine prices).
Other old friends included Norma and Mederico Faivre, co-adventurers with Susana on their first foray into the US back in 1967, when none of them spoke much English and America was in its drug-enhanced pro- and anti-war fervor. These very young architects on generous fellowships were bouncing from Greenwich Village to Haight-Ashbury and trying to look at buildings, but the American counterculture kept getting in the way. The story is too funny for me to tell here -- either they will write it down themselves or I will, but it would take too long for now. Norma and Mederico are busy building all over Buenos Aires, and Mederico also teaches at the relatively small, prestigious Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (UNQ). Mederico is an exuberant talker and probably a gifted teacher. Their kids, Pablo Mederico and Florencia, are becoming famous as makers of animated videos (look 'em up on Google).
In the next days (it's too late to go on writing) I'll tell you about another professor at UNQ, Adrián Gorelik, an architect and historian whose writings have helped me understand Buenos Aires. And more. Please stay tuned.
Some drawings of Catalina Chervin
Mederico Faivre (foto & datos)