After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ushuaia Prison Museum; Carlos Gardel -- a Convict?

Will tangocherie ever stop blabbing about her cruise around Cape Horn?

Eventually. But for now that glorious trip still sticks in her mind as one heck of a fabulous AH HA! for two weeks of experiencing, enjoying, teaching tango, and learning about Argentina and Chile.

And in the best of all ports, Ushuaia, I learned in the Prison Museum that our Tango God, Carlos Gardel, purportedly served time! I tried to find out for what, but it seems that it's just another Gardel myth, like his birth place and real name, among others.

As with all icons, don't try too hard to find the truth. And so the powers that be of the Museum have made the most of the myth by decorating his supposed cell with a mural and stories about the "Charles Gardés" incarcerated there in the early teens of the 20th Century (see bottom photo).

No matter who the actual prisoners were, it's a fact that they constructed the prison from 1902 to 1920. They also built the railroad, the southernmost railway in the world, and just about everything else in the little port town of Ushuaia at the End of the World. The prisoners did everything important in the town, from logging, telephones, newspaper, electricity, and the fire station. The jail also had several ships, which makes sense when you think about how prisoners got there and how isolated is the port.

The building's circular area in the first photo above was the convicts' latrine. The sign is sure prettier than the reality.

More info here (in Spanish.)

Read here the Letter refuting Gardel's imprisonment by Juan Carlos Esteban.

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