I've been running around the last few days trying to get in my last fill of fun before I leave for Buenos Aires tomorrow, so I don't have much to report outside of "I did this cool thing and then I did this cool thing." But in the interest of keeping this up to date, I thought I'd check in with a little summary of said cool things.
- On Thursday, I went to Castillo Pittamiglio, which is a house built by the extremely eccentric architect / alchemist Humberto Pittamiglio. I had no idea there were practicing alchemists in the twentieth century, but apparently there were. The place is full of Masonic symbols--circles, squares, and the like. It has a number of odd things like doors, windows and staircases leading nowhere. My personal favorite thing was the sign indicating that Pittamiglio left the house in the custody of the city of Montevideo upon his death, to be given back to him upon his return by reincarnation.
- Thursday night, I attended a tango concert at Teatro Solís, one of the oldest and most beautiful theaters on the continent. The concert was a bit odd, in that the three singers never sung together, but rather did five songs each. Something else that seems fairly uncommon about tango is that when the songs ended, there wasn't really a clear ending with a final note, so much as the musicians would just sort of stop playing in turn, and the song would die out over the course of a second. It sort of has the feel of "I've been playing this entire song for five minutes, but actually never mind, I think I'm done." The songs all seemed to be standards, because the audience would start applauding moments before the songs were done. My favorite piece of the night was actually an instrumental, Adiós Nonino, which came during the break between the first two singers.
- I twice went to Estadio Centenario, one of the world's great soccer stadiums, and host of the original World Cup in 1930 (Uruguay won, defeating Argentina in the final). The first trip, on Friday, was to the Futból Museum. The second trip was on Saturday, to a game between River Plate and Peñarol. Peñarol is probably the most popular team in the league, and is also currently the best, at 6-0-0 on the season. It was a pretty crazy game, with Peñarol scoring twice in the first 10 minutes, losing a player to a red card in the second half, giving up two goals to let River Plate tie it up, and scoring on a free kick in the last ten minutes to win 3-2. It was also just amazing to see a soccer match in one of the game's cathedrals.
- Yesterday I went to the Feria de Tristán Narvajo, a public market that stretches across about ten square city blocks on Sundays. It is a completely crazy affair, with people selling pets, vegetables, home improvement dvd's, clothes, antiques, bootleg clothes (Gioven Kelvin underwear?) and other stuff. My friends Matt and Liz went a few weeks ago and saw a bird vendor selling, along with several canaries and parakeets, an owl and a falcon. The Feria is probably the closest thing I've found here to a Walmart, one-stop-shopping-wise. It is definitely a preferable experience to Walmart as well, although it is a bit overpriced.
- Last night I went to another Murga show at Cine Teatro Plaza, an indoor theater. It was a very different way of seeing Murga from my experience at Teatro de Verano, which is a large outdoor amphitheater. We went primarily to see Agarrate Catalina, one of the most popular groups in the city, and the favorite to win this year's competition. They put on an incredible show, and featured two of the most stellar tenor voices I've heard in my life. I now know a bit more about Murga, so I think I'll take this moment to elaborate on it a bit. The season lasts through all of Carnaval, which is from mid-January to mid-March. The Teatro de Verano is the big venue, and each of the groups take turns passing through to be judged. There are three rounds there, so the winners will perform three times at the largest theater. However, there are also theaters and tablados (makeshift stages, often with pretty cool scenery made by the local community) all over the city. Each group will perform their forty-five minute show several times in a given night, taking a rented coach bus from venue to venue. Last night, Agarrate Catalina performed their show seven times. If you're wondering, that amounts to five hours and fifteen minutes of performing. And they do that more or less every night for two months. It's really nothing short of incredible, particularly considering the precision of everything--from the singing and choreography to the costume changes and lighting. In the second group we saw, El Gran Tuleque, there were a few performers who were no younger than sixty. What's also remarkable about it is that it is almost impossible for all but a select few groups to make any kind of profit on it. In fact, El Gran Tuleque had some lyrics about how they're so in debt that last night's show was just paying for the show on February 17th, and tonight's will pay for the show on the 18th. Though this was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, there is a good deal of truth to it. So it really is just a labor of love.
- Today is the assumption of Mujica to the Presidency. Hillary Clinton is in town for it, and visited with Mujica this morning. Interestingly, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales are also here. Ceremonies kick off at about 2pm, in the Palacio Legislativo, house of the Uruguayan Congress. Then there is a parade down to Plaza de Independencia, where, for the first time in Uruguayan history, the handing over of the sash--the formal act of changing presidents--will occur outside. I'm planning to head over at about 2:30 or 3, in the hopes of getting close enough to see it. Avenida 18 de Julio, the main commercial street through Montevideo, has several barricades and large video screens set up to handle the crowd. I'll be coming from the opposite direction though, so hopefully that will help. I definitely saw a lot of security last night around the plaza, including U.S. Secret Service agents.
|Cine Teatro Plaza Murga Show|
|Estadio Centenario Museum|