Tandil: The modern ghost town both aesthetically and politically

Tandil Travel Blog

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JB Boonstra

This past weekend was spent with my great Uncle Jorge at his house in Tandil, Argentina. It´s a larger town than the name suggests about 5 hours southwest of Buneos Aires. I was expecting a one-streetlight town with not much more than a general store and maybe a firehouse. But Tandil actually has a downtown filled with large office buildings and high-rise apartment buildings. My uncle also told me that Tandil is actually a popular tourist destination. I didn´t really believe him until he took me to a number of tourist hotspots. There was a place filled with strange rock formations where people could walk, there was a large castle (definitely not authentic) were an old military fort had once stood overlooking the city, and there was a catholic park with several statues depicting different scences from the cruxifiction of Christ. Despite all these attractions, I couldn´t help but feel a certain foreboding silence that hung like a fog throughout the city (forgive the poetic overtures, but that´s seriously what it felt like). It might simply have been the incredibly awful wheather while I was there, but the city, despite its huge buildings and such, felt dead and rotting. No one walked the sidewalks or sat in cafes like they do in Buenos Aires. The streets were mostly devoid of cars. My uncle says that Tandil is beautiful in the summer time, and I belive him. The trees would be green instead of brown skeletons and the huge expanses of grasslands would be transformed from a depressing, dead yellow to a lucicious green. I would like very much to visit there again, but next time in the summer. I have a strong feeling that I would enjoy it very much then. Not that I had a bad time or anything, I was very glad to see the countryside and to get a different perspective of Argentina outside of Buenos Aires.

My first impression of life outside the city is that it´s much slower and simplier than the hustle and bustle of BA. I noticed another difference that could have simply been coincidence, but maybe something more. When I tried to talk, mostly with my uncle but also with some of his friends, about politics, they all had this disconnected, apethetic attitude about the government. So I finally asked my uncle directly, if he cared at all about politics. He told me he didn´t really at all and that most people he knew didn´t either. He expressed the hoplessness he felt with a government that has had military coups and economic crises like a 2-year old has temper tantrums. I believe he represents a older, lower class that has somehow missed the Peron "bandwagon" and has given up on politics altogether because they feel completely powerless. They have the idea that if they make an effort to change something for the better, all of the good that they might achieve will be washed away with the next disaster. It seems these people and the governmetn exist in a live and let live situation. My uncle doesn´t get involved in politics and the government leaves him alone. He sees government as a necessary nuisance that doesn´t really affect him or do much for or against him. It would be interesting to investigate if these kind of sentiments are common, or simply crazy ideals held just by my uncle and his friends. The more I think that I have figured out Argentine politcs and can put all Argentines in individual political catagories, the more I realize that Argentina and its people are far too complex to figure out in life time, let alone the month I´ve been here.

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photo by: chris7867