Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mendoza and Salta

After a great rest of the week in Cordoba, including a choir rehearsal with everything from Bruckner to Faure to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and a trip to the observatory in the nearby hills, we took the bus to Villa Mercedes in the province of San Luis to spend a day with the de Erausquin great-aunts, then took another bus to Mendoza. We were met by an old friend of Dad's, Sergio de la Torre, who drove us to the apartment Tio Gustavo had rented for us, gave us the keys and took us to have some dinner. The week was delightful. We spent one wonderful day up at Sergio's house in the mountains, riding horseback with his sons and finishing up with an asado; drove out into the wine country to visit the Salentein vineyards another day, pausing on the way to see the great statue of Christ the King that towers over the Uco Valley; wandered the city to see the old churches and the big park that fills a good section of the city; and visited with our second cousins on Dad's side, as well as our great-aunt. Friday being the feast of Santiago, patron of Mendoza, we went out on the Peatonal Sarmiento (a street blocked to cars), to watch the traditional dances performed on the big stage.

Sadly, we missed Mass on Sunday because our overnight bus didn't get into Salta until two in the afternoon; but besides this, it was a good day. Tio Juancho, Mami's brother, picked us up and we had lunch at the house of our aunt Constanza's grandparents and met the whole family - her parents, her grandparents, and her brother Rodolfo and his wife Lucia. We talked, played with the two little cousins, Santiago and Fatima (who has Down syndrome, like our own Laura, and is absolutely adorable), and finally played the flutes and sang for everyone. Later we saw the immense house Juancho and Coty are building before going to their current house, which is in a beautiful private neighborhood. We were up pretty late, which resulted in our sleeping in a lot on Monday, but we did go out into the city that afternoon. After going up the aerial railway to the Cerro San Bernardo, which has a nice park with a waterfall and some really nice views, we went down to see the Cathedral, which is beautiful and has (not content with one) three miraculous images!!! namely, Our Lady of Tears, and Our Lord and Lady of the Miracle (a painting, a crucifix, and a statue respectively.) I said, therefore, a prayer before each, and admired the beautiful altarpiece and the finely painted ceiling. We walked down to S. Francisco, whose most evident visual feature are the deep-red outer walls with white and gold trim; and we wanted to see San Bernardo, but it was closed, so we couldn't. We did walk back across the Plaza 9 de Julio, where the Cathedral is, and see the church of La Merced on the other side. There is a statue of Our Lady with the General's blue and white ribbon across her chest, given her before some battle (alas, I know not my own country's history!)

Yesterday we had a very long day! We got up early-ish and drove out into the mountains, going up and down past view after glorious view until we came up over the clouds and got to the beautiful old town of Cachi. We visited the church, which has some very pretty statues, drove round into the valley beyond for about an hour, and then came back into town to have lunch at a restaurant where we ate locro, the traditional stew. It was very good! Then we started driving back, blew a tire on the gravel before reaching Molinos, but changed it and got the broken one fixed in Molinos so we would have a spare in case it happened again. Fortunately it didn't, and when we were almost home Coty's grandmother called to offer us some tickets to a choir concert by Ars Nova, the children's choir of Salta. We all went, and the choir was excellent, though some of the music was modern and weird.

Today we got up late again, being very tired from yesterday, and went to the Archaeology Museum to see the mummies they had found high in the mountains. There were two on display; one from a volcano where they had found three (they display them by turns), all from sacrifices (the poor children had been left to freeze; one wa six, one fifteen, and one seven!), and one from a different place who had been dug up in 1920 and had been wandering around from hand to hand since then, until the museum acquired her in 2006.

Tomorrow is Lucia's birthday and it will be another long day!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Well, what have we done in the last week?

We saw the Manzana de las Luces, an old Jesuit mission, on Thursday night and heard a choral concert; I played a solo concert on Friday for a group of my grandmother's friends, and they asked me when we were coming back; on Sunday after touring La Boca and seeing St. Felicitas (from the outside) we took the overnight bus to Alta Gracia, and here we are.

Here we saw the beautiful main church and the Jesuit mission museum. There was furniture from the Jesuit time and from when it was the Viceroy's house, including everything from millstones to a spinning wheel to gorgeous bedroom and dining room furniture, and the forge in the back garden. There are still orange and lemon trees in the front courtyard and I was dying to pick some! We also went into the city of Cordoba and saw the Cathedral, the Cabildo (government house) and the churches of St. Francis and the Capuchins; this last (which was actually the first we saw) is gorgeous. The brick is laid in stripes and of the two towers, one has a spire and one doesn't. We were told later that the complete one represents the infinity of God, and the unfinished one the finity of man.

That's all for Cordoba and Alta Gracia so far. Tonight we're promised some fun with the parish youth group!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On with the show...

After a good time at my godfather's house on Saturday, with a delicious barbecue and a grand concert of piano, guitar, voices and flutes, Tio Alvaro (the youngest of the four de Erausquin brothers) picked us up and we drove down to the Seminary of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix at La Reja for First Saturday evening Mass. The church is gorgeous; I had never seen the inside of it before, even in pictures. Unfortunately we didn't have the camera out to take any either. After Mass we drove back to Tio Alvaro's house in Bella Vista for dinner, after which we all piled into the car to go to the Feria Persa, a sort of mall, to get some movies. In the end we didn't watch any of the ones we got, however, since we had Mass the next day.

On Sunday we went to 9:30 Mass and then the boys and the younger girls (Rocio and Alvaro's two girls) jammed into the car for Santiago's hockey practice and Tia Gabriela, Lucia and I waited for the bus. On the way it got a flat tire, so we stopped in the Parque Rivadavia, which has a book fair every day, and got some new books (quite old, really, but new for us!) By then Santi's practice was over so we all went to the Feria de Mataderos. There were stands and stands with everything from jewelry to ponchos to clothes to musical instruments, and we looked all over. Halfway down the fair was the big stage and there were people dancing zambas and chacareras, so we stopped to watch. Just then a friend of the family (who had asked us to let him know when we were in town) called our cell-phone, and came to find us, since he happened to be at the fair too! His wife and two friends were with him, and we chatted for a good while and finally parted ways, but Tio Alvaro told them to call and come over to the house later that evening. They did, therefore, and we had a lot of fun discussing what makes a great writer and why some writers are good but not great, and playing music. They left before dinner to drive back into the city, and we ate and then stayed up playing music or reading or talking.

On Monday not much went on. Ignacio and Santiago started building a catapult and Lucia fenced with Tio Alvaro, and I didn't do much but practice furiously,;I think it must have been all the days of not playing before! That night Jorgelina showed us some of her ballet, and we listened to opera (La Traviata, singing along!), and then Rocio and I watched Jackie Chan in a really neat movie, The Forbidden Kingdom.

Today we went to the children's school to watch their Independence Day production (the actual day is tomorrow, but the presentation was today). Pilar's kindergarten class did a little play about the Congress in Tucuman when it was decided that Argentina should be independent, and did some dances. The older children had some short recitations and a song by the Argentinian composer Maria Elena Walsh, and one of the professors recited a poem with a background of guitar music.

Last, here is the translation of the sonnet from last post. It is not entirely literal, but I tried...

At the Consecration
O wonder! miracle no words can say!
That God should come from heaven down to earth,
Hiding within a humble Host His worth,
To bless me - poor and wretched thing of clay,

The clay that, deigning with His hand to touch,
He formed in His own image, by His grace,
To please Him and to see at last His face...
And I, ungrateful! -- I have sinned so much!

How many times now have I cast away
The love and grace offered me every day
By Him who died upon the Cross for me?

Redeemer Sacramental, take my hand
And help me to fulfill all Thy command -
To answer "Yes!" to each request from Thee.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

En la Consagracion

Here is my Spanish sonnet. Those who don't know Spanish will have to wait for a translation... :) and I don't know how good it would be, either, but we shall see.

Milagro! indecible maravilla!
Que el Dios del cielo haya descendido,
En una humilde hostia escondido,
A bendecirme a mi - pobre chiquilla,

Pedazo de la arcilla que el Dios Santo
En su misericordia ha formado
En su imagen, para darle agrado...
Y yo, ingrata, le he ofendido tanto!

Ay! cuantas veces ya he rechazado
La gracia y el amor que me ha brindado
El que en la Cruz sufrio y murio por mi!

Oh, Cristo, Redentor sacramentado,
Ayudame a hacer lo que has mandado -
A contestar a cuanto pidas, "SI!"

Friday, July 4, 2008

What a week!

Here is the recap, therefore, of it all.

Saturday was spent at Tia Emi's house, amid the happy chaos of her children, Clara, Tomas (Tato), my namesake Inés, better known as Ichu, and Josefina. We had a fun time, mostly resting, and lots of music of all kinds, from zambas to Irish music to arias, and Rocio did some flamenco dancing. Sunday we headed back into the city to Tio Claudio's house, for Alba's birthday party, which was a lot of fun. After the party we went to seven o'clock Mass at the SSPX chapel, and at the Consecration a sonnet began to take shape in my mind -- unusually, in Spanish! -- and I wrote it down after dinner at our grandparents' house, (Tata's parents, not Mami's).

Monday, the 30th was a day of failures. After lunch, we headed out to the Planetarium, but it was closed! So after we rested a bit by the lake, we decided to go look at a couple of churches marked on the map. The first was closed, so we went on to the second. Both were modern messes, so we just went home after saying hello to Our Lord, who was on the main altar, for a change, of the second church. At home we played several games of sequence, with Ignacio and me teamed up against Lucia and Rocio. We won two and they won two, but after that we had to clear the table for dinner.

Tuesday was even more chaotic, because as we were cooking lunch Rocio came in from her bedroom clutching one hand in the other and crying quietly. She only said she had cut herself trying to open the window, so Lucia said, "Well, put it under the faucet." It was only when we did that that she started screaming, and we realized it was really bad. She had caught her finger against the lock of the other window and sliced it to the bone. Thank heaven Paco (our grandfather) is a doctor, so he got it bandaged as best he could. It was insane - Lucia holding Rocio in her lap on a chair and both of them trying not to faint, me not much better off on the sofa, and Ignacio not helping by his off-hand attitude. He did call Tata to remark, "Rocio cut her finger and the girls are all freaking out," which was true, but not helpful! Yaya called for a taxi but just then Tio Alvaro arrived and took everything in hand. He insisted on calling Tata, who told him to take her to the German Hospital, and he left Ig and me in charge of his kids while he drove Yaya, Rocio and Lucia to the hospital. They were there the rest of the afternoon, and we passed the time by talking. Jorgelina studied quietly on the sofa, little Pilar bounced off the walls, Paco dozed and Santiago showed Ignacio... how to make a virus!!! Past six, Rocio and the others came home. The finger had been fractured (ouch!) so she had a big stiff bandage on her hand! We had a pleasant dinner at Tio Claudio's house, and then went home to bed. Yaya remarked to me, (look at the bright side, haha!) "Good thing it wasn't you!" (For those who don't know, I'm studying to be a concert pianist... so yeah, it would have been infernal to break a finger now.)

On Wednesday we walked a few blocks to "La Redonda", the beautiful church of the Immaculate Conception, with gorgeous murals all round the walls (some restored by Yaya, who paints and restores icons). We also saw the two museums across the plaza, the Sarmiento Museum (dedicated to the founder of the Argentinian school systems), and the Larreta Museum, which has a lot of fine carvings and old furniture and a gorgeous garden. But lo and behold, Tio Claudio and Tio Alvaro appeared and said Tata had made an appointment for Rocio with a hand specialist at the British Hospital, so we drove back home with them and Alvaro took Lu, Ro and Yaya to the hospital. Ig played chess with Paco and I read until they came home. Rocio had a new splint and waxed eloquent about the specialist, who had been very nice to her, refused to take a cent from Tio Alvaro for his work, and told her to come to his own clinic on Monday. That night we saw the last act of "Pia di Tolomei" on TV, but we didn't see who sang because that had been in the opening credits. It was rather annoying!

Thursday afternoon Ig and I walked out to the "Monumental", River Plate's stadium (and no, I'm not a River fan, though Ig is), to watch Gaspar (Tio Claudio's son) practice. Today we walked to San Telmo and saw the Museo Historico Nacional, the Parque Lezama, and the beautiful parish church of St. Pedro Telmo, after whom the barrio is named.

This week won't be really over till tomorrow, but all that's going to happen then as far as I remember, is that we're going to Tio Gustavo's for an asado. It should be fun, anyway!