Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DF, el Lector

This past Sunday, two facts emerged that lay sharply at odds with one another. First, it was an unseasonably gorgeous, sun-drenched day here in the Bs As. Second, the resfrio that I'd felt coming on slowly but surely on Thursday had finally effloresced into into a full-blown, and really quite wicked resfrio, which left me riven with resfrio-related fatigue of the illest sort and disinclined to do the sort of thing one typically does on an unseasonably gorgeous, sun-drenched day (e.g., sit outside, go running, &c.).

Nevertheless, I summoned the energy to hop on a colectivo and hoof it down to one of my fave health-food establishments, a sucursal in a cadena known as "Tea Connection" (yes named in English not in Spanish, perhaps because Ingles is more strongly associated with health, which is, all told, not unreasonable), and partook of a large licuado (mixed-fruit drink carrying all manner of vitamin C) as well as something else that was conspicuously not the delicious but not particularly healthy standard Argentine troika I'd been consuming theretofore (e.g., steak, empanadas, pizza).

My spirits and sense of physical health lifted by aforementioned repast, I resolved to walk back from Palermo to la Recoleta, and in so doing passed by one of my favorite spots, which the Broad Readership will find herein depicted.

This happy spot is the Plaza del Lector, a well-kept park located in the shadow (quite literally) of the Biblioteca National (see looming edifice pic #3 below), along (but elevated above) Av. Gral. las Heras (one of the main drags of the area, and the street that connects Palermo with la Recoleta, and a street I've found myself walking along perhaps more than any other).

I was fortunate to find a spot on an unoccupied bench in the Plaza del L., and shared the next hour or so with various lounging Argentines, all of whom were drawn outside by the unseasonable and fortunate warmth and sun.

I hesitate to make cultural generalizations, but I think it's safe to say that Argentines are more into this kind of activity--sitting and relaxing with no particular aim or purpose--that us Estadounidenses. As an Arg colleague observed about such sitting without temporal or purposive constraints, "I like to just sit and let life pass by."

The notion of letting life pass by without doing anything constructive gives me something akin to the incipient fantods, as I'm a classic estadounidense who feels that time is only used well when it's put to a constructive purpose. So perhaps it was national-mood-by-osmosis that allowed me to pass an hour or so sitting on a bench in the P. del L. with the Bonaerenses, reading (DFW's The Pale King, btw, the subject matter of which is actually acutely relevant to this whole theme of how time passes and what to do with it; cf. also Swann's Way (obv.)).

And in the vanishingly unlikely event that you're at all interested in what I do on Friday nights here in Bs As, when others are out with friends and/or loved ones enjoying the city's legendary evening life, consider the above pic: It's the Cafe del Lector (are you getting the "Lector" theme, B.R.? and are you getting that this means "Reader" and is nothing to do with Hannibal Lecter, though now that I think about it the choice of his last name was likely not coincidental, and I certainly don't like the association), where they have pretty good steak and a kind-hearted Peruvian waitress who puts up with my endless questions about Spanish and does not bug me when after eating my de rigeur Fri eve steak (a ritual that is kind of really extra-unacceptable for a Roman Catholic, when you pause to think about it) I spend hours at table reading various things on my beloved and now miraculously self-repaired iPad.

But I suppose if you don't want people sitting and reading in your cafe all hours on Fri eves., you shouldn't call it "del Lector," verdad?

P.S. You may recall the Biblioteca National from my earlier reference to it as the former site of the Arg. presidential palace during the days of Juan y Eva Peron, and the subsequent rumor that the libe's stacks are haunted by the ghost of Evita herself. For the record, I have not seen any ghosts of ex-Argentine lady presidentes in situ, though I'll be sure to update should that change.