Adventures in Argentina– Teatro Colon


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Teatro Colon, considered one of the world’s great theaters, began on May 25, 1908, with a performance of Verdi’s Aida.  This theatre replaced the original theatre which began operation in 1857.  Teatro Colon’s construction took twenty years even though its original cornerstone was laid in 1890.  The original architect, Francesco Tamburini, died in 1891.  His partner took over but also died.  The final architect, Jules Dormal, completed the theatre.

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Theater Colon is huge–originally 8,202 square meters, 3,196 of which is underground. Later 12,000 more meters were added.  The total floor space equals 58,000 square meters.  The design includes French and Italian styles, and includes dressing and practice rooms, rooms to design sets and create scenery, etc.–this part of the theatre is underground.  Everything used in the productions here are created on site.

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This is the curtain area.  The actual curtain used during performances remains behind what you see here.

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Marble, gold, other precious stones and metals are everywhere.

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Due to design, its acoustics are known worldwide as one of the best.  Every famous opera singer you have ever heard of performed here.  This holds true for ballet dancers and orchestras as well.

Currently, the theatre provides a venue for operas, symphonies, ballet, choral music, and contemporary dance among other artistic endeavors. During this March alone, fifteen  different performances of varying types occurred here. When we arrived the lines were long, some for buying tickets for performances, others for tours.

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Adventure in Argentina–Buenos Aires


On March 4, a little before noon, I arrived in Buenos Aires EZE airport.  Customs was relatively organized, straight forward, and simple.  Once I acquired my luggage, I headed out.  There stood Gaston waiting for me, the reverse of when he came to live with me a little more than eight years ago and I waited for him at the Amarillo airport. One thing remained the same–hugs.  We hailed a cab, loaded my luggage, and headed for the hotel which his dad, Hugo, had arranged.  In spite of the fact that neither of us had managed much sleep the night before (mine was sleep on a ten hour red eye flight and his was a night in the bus from Cordoba), we headed out to find some lunch and explore.

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After a long walk (I have a Fitbit and we walked 35 miles in 2 1/2 days before we left Buenos Aires), we arrived here at this very modern business district on the right.  The tall building in the distance is a Chinese bank.

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To the left are many old warehouses which have been converted into apartment buildings, restaurants, and shops.  It has become a fashionable place to live.  Several of these sailing vessels floated in the water.  Some could be boarded for a tour.  We just strolled around and enjoyed the views, the weather.

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We crossed the bridge and explored a rather exclusive area.  Buenos Aries is an old city which combines the old and the new.  Many of the sidewalks and streets have not changed in hundreds of years–the original cut stones remain.

We did have to laugh at our first lunch experience.  Although the restaurant appeared to be quite traditional and Argentinian on the outside, the menu was mostly Tex-Mex food.

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One of the longest streets in the world, this one goes from one end of the city to the other.  Note the trees!  Every city I visited contained an astonishing amount of trees.  Except for the most narrow streets, trees lined them.  Later I learned about an Argentinian saying:  there are three things you must do in life, plant a tree, write a book, have a child.  I feel grateful because I have done all three.

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Parks, parks, and more parks–they are everywhere and people use them–children playing, dog walkers, runners exercising, people relaxing on park benches, chatting.

Hugo had given Gaston a list of some places to visit, one of which is an old area with colorful buildings, traditional dancing, e.g. tango, and lots of tourists.  Many of the restaurants this time year–end of summer there–are open air, filled with people enjoying summer’s end.

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We had a coffee (we drank quite a lot of coffee–for breakfast and after dinner almost every day), watched tango and traditional country dancers.  Tango is a Buenos Aires dance tradition.  People in other parts of the country dance the traditional dances, not tango.  We watched while a woman in her 80s left her table and danced perfectly with a young man dressed in traditional clothes–everyone cheered.  People there eat dinner late, 9-10 at night.  One day in Buenos Aires we somehow sort of forgot lunch and were hungry so we went to this special restaurant (they have a very unique way of making a potato dish which Gaston likes) about eight.  The waiters looked at us as if we were crazy.  No one else arrived at the restaurant before nine and most even later.  This suited me fine.  I much rather eat late than early.

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Adventure in Argentina


 

On March 3, I left for a two week trip to Argentina to visit my former exchange student and his family.  On March 4, Gaston met me at EZE airport in Buenos Aires.  I took the red eye from Houston to EZE, ten hours but an easy direct flight.  Little did we expect then that we would be spending a considerable amount of time in an eye clinic in Cordoba, the city where Gaston lives and attends engineering school.  We spent most of three days in Buenos Aires, then flew to Iguassu to see the famous falls. Several days later while waiting on a four hour late plane from there to Cordoba, suddenly I could not see clearly in my left eye; large pieces of black something floated all around and everything was blurry.

At nine the next morning we walked the five blocks from Gaston’s apartment to the most advanced eye clinic in Cordoba, a private clinic open on a Saturday morning. After experiencing multiple eyedrops in both eyes, seeing several doctors,  being subjected to all sorts of modern machines and tests, I found out I could not see because my left eye was quite inflamed with lots of fluid which made it nearly impossible for them to see what they needed to make a definite determination.  They gave me a prescription for the inflammation and told me to return on Monday morning and to be as quiet and calm as possible to facilitate healing.  That nixed the planned road trip Gaston’s parents and I planned to start that same Saturday.

Some blessings are unexpected.  While I would have seen more of Argentina than I did with a longer road trip–ultimately we took a shorter one, I would not have spent a relaxing, fun weekend with the whole family at La Finca, the family place in the country outside of Cordoba–photos later. I became acquainted with family members and friends, lived their typical weekend life, ate Argentinian food, all things I would have missed if we had been able to follow our original plans.

On Monday some of the inflammation had cleared so they could see that I did not have a retinal detachment–my main concern.  The doctors cleared the way for a shorter road trip and told me to come back Thursday morning.  At that time they were able to determine the exact problem and told me to make an appointment with a doctor here in the states because I would not be in Argentina when the final solution needed to occur.

Three trips to the clinic, seeing multiple doctors plus a retinal specialist twice all cost a total of 110 dollars.  Tomorrow morning my left eye receives a laser treatment and then I am told I will be fine; I visited the doctor here on Monday.  He told me exactly what they had told me.  I can only begin to imagine what my Monday trip to this doctor and the laser tomorrow will cost.  At times I wonder if it would not have been better to stay in Cordoba another week, pay the extra flight cost, and receive the laser treatment there.

Tomorrow photos of Buenos Aires and our adventures there will appear after I return from the retinal specialist’s office.

Note:  at a lecture last evening I saw a friend who is originally from Germany.  After she heard my healthcare adventure in Argentina, she informed me that she has to use very expensive eye drops.  They are so much cheaper in Europe that she and her husband, she is in her 80s and her husband 92, fly to Europe regularly to get the drops.  Even with the cost of these flights, they save several thousand dollars each time.

In the footprints of Machig Lapdron by Mary Sharratt


Reblogged because I found this to be a fascinating adventure plus love the art.

Machig Labdrön with PadampasangyeMachig Lapdron, female Tantric Buddhist mystic and lineage founder

I’ve just returned from an illuminating trip to Bhutan, high in the Himalayas. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and the world’s youngest democracy.

On our last full day in this enchanting land, my husband and I drove with our guide over the nearly 4000 meter pass of Chelela and into the Haa Valley which doesn’t see that many tourists. Our goal was the Hermitage of Juneydrak, where Machig Lapdron (1055-1145 CE), the famous female Tantric mystic, master, and lineage founder, once meditated.

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Trip to Honey Island Swamp


On our third day in New Orleans, we headed to Slidell, LA, to visit the swamp.  Many swamp tours exist in the area and some in Lafayette as well.  After reading extensively online about the various tours, I decided to take Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island tour early in the morning.  Depending on traffic, it is about a 3/4 to one hour drive from downtown New Orleans.  For at least half this time, you are driving on a bridge across Lake Pontchartrain.

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This little swampy area is right next to the small cabin where they sell alligator souvenirs and you pick up your ticket.  This place requires cash.

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After boarding the boat which holds about 20 passengers, we headed down the Pearl River.  This view looks upriver.

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Many expensive houses rise above the river banks.  You can see the for sale sign.  According to the boat captain, the fancier ones cost about one million.  However, for all the elegant houses, there are more just the opposite and close by.

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Like this one which appears boarded up.  Some appeared abandoned, some in decent repair, some recently used.  When we asked how high the water rose during Katrina, we were told that it would be above the roof of a house like this.  The tours were abandoned for over a year after the hurricane except for the occasional hurricane cleanup crew who wanted a tour.

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This is one of the nice houses along the river, modern, large, well kept.

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We saw a large blue heron, wings outstretched, sunning itself on a large tree stump.  When the captain tried to get closer, it slowly lifted off and flew away before I could get a photo.

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We turned to the right off the river and began to see alligators of all sizes.  Because of harvesting for skins, meat, etc., few really large ones remain.  More common is 8-10 footers.

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Even the boat captain was astonished at the number of alligators we saw.  They seemed to be everywhere and one exceedingly large male followed us deeper into the swamp.

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Although the water flows rather rapidly on the river, once in the swamp, the water is very quiet.  Many different types of trees live here including cypress.  Most of the trees are deciduous and lose their leaves in the winter.  I was extremely surprised to learn how cold it can get here, below freezing, sometimes even down in the teens.  However, the captain said it always rises above freezing during the day.

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Most of the really large cypress have been cut down in the past for lumber.  Now this is a reserve.  The tree on the left is really large and a lot of moss hangs from it.

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Hogs, like these, are not native anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.  It seems feral hogs can live anywhere.  We also saw raccoons.  The trees and other vegetation are so dense during the summer, wildlife could be a few feet away and remain unseen.

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The swamp possesses a wild, magical beauty.

 

 

 

Two Kinds of People


The novel I finished yesterday described one of the characters as “the kind of man who would find his place anywhere because of how he interpreted the world.”  He was the kind of man who saw the world not as a system of barriers but rather a place of common ground, a man with an openness to the world, an openness to the unfamiliar, a man who welcomed the unknown.

This made me think of people I know and how they react, to where they want to travel, if at all, to what they desire to explore, to know.  Many of my friends travel little and rarely, if ever, outside the United States.  Others, like me, desire to visit places and cultures totally different, unfamiliar, to “know” the unknown.

This lead me to question how these two different types of people come to be.  In my case perhaps it started with family road trips, the earliest of which occurred when I was three and my dad drove from northwest Missouri all the way to Monterey, Mexico, and back.  I still love road trips.

Which kind of person are you?  Why?  Is it upbringing, heredity, environment?

 

Celebrating Earth Day–Photos


I decided the best way I should share my reverence and love for nature and this precious planet on which we live is to share photos from various countries, states, and my own little piece of wonder.

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The three photos above were taken at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas about ten minutes from where I live.

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Above and below the Rio Grande looking into Mexico.

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Four photos above — Big Bend National Park.

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Between Marfa and Alpine, Texas.

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The Rio Grande north of Albuquerque on the Santa Ana Pueblo Nation.

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The above four photos taken in Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia.  The animals are gelada–the only surviving grass eating primates found solely in Ethiopia.  They actually “talk” to each other.

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Menelik’s Window, Ethiopia

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Awash Falls, Ethiopia

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Where the Blue Nile begins draining from Lake Tana, Ethiopia

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The photos above were taken at various places in Costa Rica.

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Northern New Mexico

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Grand Canyon North Rim

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The Missouri River running full.

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California dropping down from Sequoia National Monument

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Near Lake Marvin, Texas

Sunday Sunrise ©Dawn Wink

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The above photos were all taken within the last year on my little rim of wonder.

And finally below, my favorite animal.

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Spring Break Adventure–5


On the fourth day of the adventure we went to Marfa, Texas.  My friends from college, David and Suzy, had booked a tour of the Chinati Foundation.  No photos of that because none allowed.  This foundation is the dream of its founder, Donald Judd.  His art and almost all the rest of the art housed here is not for display in houses.  All but a few consist of grand studies of space and light. An abandoned, refurbished military base, purchased by Judd, houses most of the exhibits.  Judd’s main interest it seems relates to the relationship between light and space.  First, the tour guide takes you to a couple of large buildings where the only changes made were to install new windows and a ceiling.  These buildings house Judd’s large, polished, stainless steel rectangular boxes.  While this may sound boring, I assure you it is not.  Light reflects off these boxes, makes shadows, etc. in all sorts of ways and the entire effect changes with the angles of the sunlight.

Another quite astonishing display can be seen in a series of U-shaped buildings, painted and repaired, in which eight foot long fluorescent light tubes in four colors, pink, green, yellow, and blue, have been installed in the corners of the U.  Depending on where a person stands, other colors appear, not just the four mentioned.  It became apparent to me that the artist, Dan Flavin, knew every scientific detail of the color spectrum and its effects on the human eye and brain.

I also enjoyed a smaller display by artist and poet, Carl Andre.  Even though his fame rests in sculpture, it is mainly his poetry displayed here.  I wanted to read all of it but everyone else went on so I quit.

There are other exhibits, including a lot of smashed and welded vehicles which I liked the least.  The final exhibit displays giant fabric sheets in black and white in a building specially designed by the artist, Robert Irwin.  If you think this sounds boring, take a trip there and look for yourself.  I assure you it is not.  Irwin actually worked on the exhibit himself at the age of 88.  He lives on now at 89.

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The only photos I managed in the area show the Marfa Courthouse which is, believe it or not, even a brighter pink than this photo and a photo from the vehicle window on the highway to Alpine. The second photo shows a mesa we managed to view on one day or another from nearly all sides.  It looms large in the middle of flat land. Here one of the endless trains slides by.

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On our last day we decided to drive to Presidio and take the river road which goes through Rio Grande Ranch State Park. While the road goes either along or down to the river in a few places (for people to put some sort of water craft into the river or to camp), most of it is way above the river on cliffs.  This landscape is not for the faint of heart.

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US on the right and Mexico on the left.  The fields and pasture in the distance are in Mexico.

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Looking into Mexico.

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Unusual rock formations near one of the small drives down to a campground by the river.

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Cliffs in Mexico.

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Apparently, in my efforts not to fall in the river while taking this, my finger got in the way.

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Yes, the river is down there between those cliffs.

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In case you wonder why the Rio Grande seems so small here, consider that by the time it gets here, 95% of the water has been removed for irrigation and other purposes.

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We drove back through Terlingua to Alpine.  Not much exists in Terlingua except a rather pathetic supposed ghost town area.  The river road is not conducive to speed; we were hungry and stopped for a very late lunch.  It was St. Patrick’s Day and many of the clientele had a good start on the festivities.  On Saturday I learned that Terlingua is a famous biker town.  However, apparently not that day.

Spring Break Adventure–4


 

Today was the second day at Big Bend.  We spent most of the day in the Chisos Basin where the park lodge is located.  The four of us started the hike all the way to the “window” and two of us finished it, which enabled me to not only experience a hike full of wonder but also to get over 20000 on my Fitbit for the day.  I also have a sunburn now.  For this post I will just add photos with little comment.  Later I will add more details about this astonishing place.

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Although I took some of these photos, I did not take anything on the hike so thanks to a friend you are seeing some of these.  This is bear and mountain lion country so there are signs telling you what to do if you see one, hardly likely with so many people around.  However, all the campsites have metal containers in which to lock food from bears.

Spring Break Adventure–3


Today was day one in Big Bend National Park.  This place is huge.  We drove down to the Rio Grande, took a hike up a big hill/cliff above it, and later drove off on a gravel road which became a bit daunting at times–four wheel drive only. We saw people riding horses across the desert, others canoeing down the river, all sorts of mountains, cactus in bloom, ruined corrals from a extinct ranch, and passed a border control check point–nothing new really.  Used to get checked all the time down near the border. Here are photos I took along the way.