Prisons and Tango

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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The Penitentiary Musuem, SAn Telmo.

June 27:
Only real sightseeing today was a visit to the Penitentiary Museum in San Telmo.  This is supposed to be open most days from 2-6pm, but we´ve had a lot of trouble actually getting in, it has regularly been closed during the times it should be open.  But lucky today!  The building itself started life as a religious place in 1740 and was later a community centre, asylum for abandoned women and children, insane asylum, gunpowder store and finally a prison.  The hall on the museum side of the courtyard is lined with gates, doors and windows from various prisons and we saw here some of the finest examples of Spanglish (the cousing of Chinglish!) we´ve ever seen.  The side rooms were interesting, with rooms dedicated to prison guard uniforms, the pharmacy, prison furniture, mock-up cells and even the director is on display - his office is one of the side rooms and you can look in to watch him at ´work´.

Inmate-made gambling tools, including roulette wheel,in the Penitentiary Musuem.
  Only half of the building is available to visit, as the other half is still used as a prison guard´s training college (we think).  Wandered back home across the Plaza Dorego.

June 28:
Went over to Abasto today, the famous tango area.  Saw the old Abasto Market - used to be the fruit and vegetable market and has now been restored and turned into a shopping centre.  You can also visit a kosher McDonalds here, due to the Jewish community in the area.  First stop was the Carlos Gardel House Museum, the house where he lived with his mother in his final years.  You can see lots of personal items and information about his life and friends.  Interesting that his only long-term love affair was with a girl he met when he was 30 and she was 14!  The house also shows the kitchen and laundry as they were when Gardel lived there, and displays a copy of his last will in which he states that he was born in Toulouse, France (this seems to be in conflict with the birth certificate that Tacuarembo in Uruguay claim to have showing he was born there!).

Prison uniforms, Penitentiary Musuem.
  The mystery continues.  This area of the city also has many houses decorated with ´fillet´, the painting used on horse carriages and buses, even funeral carriages.  Very ornate, and many people seem to be ensuring that their fillet is maintained.  Also nearby is the Carlos Garden Alleyway, where weekend afternoons host tango and forklore shows.  By the time we left at about 3pm there was nothing on, so maybe they had this Saturday off!  Next stop was the Museo Xul Solar, with an extensive collection of the works of Alexander Xul Solar.  He was an Argentinian artist who in his later years became very interested in philosophy and religions of the world and much of his later work reflects this.  The building itself looks like any other old house on the outside, but within is a modern, complex structure of concrete and steel - very interesting.
Wonderful sign in the Penitentiary Musuem, meaning ¨Don´t Touch¨!
  Had lunch in a corner restaurant nearby, filled with photos of the owner with what appear to be local celebrities in the 1960s and 70s.  Maybe he was the Jamie Oliver of his day!  Had dinner tonight with Jesus, Melissa´s host brother from her exchange year in Uruguay, and his wife, Mary.  Very enjoyable, and also got to catch up with their son, Diego, who was a small boy last time Melissa saw him and is now a tall, young man who speaks very good English, lucky for Noel!  Great night. 

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The Penitentiary Musuem, SAn Telmo.
The Penitentiary Musuem, SAn Telmo.
Inmate-made gambling tools, includ…
Inmate-made gambling tools, inclu…
Prison uniforms, Penitentiary Musu…
Prison uniforms, Penitentiary Mus…
Wonderful sign in the Penitentiary…
Wonderful sign in the Penitentiar…
Statue of Carlos Gardel in Carlos …
Statue of Carlos Gardel in Carlos…
An example of fillet work in Abast…
An example of fillet work in Abas…
More fillet work in Abasto.
More fillet work in Abasto.
Interior of the Carlos Gardel Musu…
Interior of the Carlos Gardel Mus…
Interior of the Museo Xul Solar, A…
Interior of the Museo Xul Solar, …