An expat Californian building a new life via the tango in Buenos Aires since 2003, including information on learning the tango and where to dance it in Buenos Aires.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Puerto Madero -- Sunken Galleons and Floating Frigates



Ruben has lived in Buenos Aires for 40 years; me, almost 6. We each have our own relationship with the city. Ruben is totally in love, while I'm at times a bit intolerant. But I understand when he gets a moist look in his eyes and exclaims, "Buenos Aires is always interesting!" as he did went we went to Puerto Madero on the fourth of July.

A tango student wanted us to plan a special day for him on Saturday, and he had already been to all the must-see sights: La Boca, San Telmo, Recoleta Cemetery. So we made it a nautical and historical day in Puerto Madero, the harbor that became what La Boca had hoped to be before history moved on.

Now that part of the river is host to two floating casino ships, lots of recycled and gentrified brick warehouses and factories, and fabulous new hotels and condos.

First up was the sunken Spanish galleon accidentally discovered during the construction of the new skyscrapers. It was on display just until the next day, when it was going to be reburied as a way to preserve it. Since the 17th century vessel had been buried in the mud for two centuries, archeologists feel it will disintegrate if it dries out.

So donning hard hats, we trouped around the scaffolding to get a good look. It appeared like a skeleton of a whale, being not much more than the ribs and the ship's wheel covered under protective tarps. No treasure was found, just two Spanish coins. Those coins, the type of Spanish oak used in the ship, the old cannons used as ballast, and the metal nails proves that the galleon was indeed from Spain.

From there we walked to the museum frigate, Sarmiento. The sister ship, La Libertad, is still a working tall ship used by sailors in training to navigate around the world. It's tied up a little ways from the Sarmiento.







We had the Sarmiento to ourselves as we wondered around from tip to stern, port to prow. It was super interesting to check out all the little officers' cabins, the kitchen and dining room, the engine room, the barber shop, the brig, etc. It was very easy to imagine the heat of the furnaces
and the hard job of keeping them full of coal to fuel the steam engines, the gigantic sails and the man power to hoist them, the one torpedo mounted at the prow, all of the brass which was shiny and ship-shape.

Look at the figurehead of Liberty, "wrapped" in the Argentine flag:



























We're standing on the famous Puente de la Mujer to take this photo.



















Check it out:
Alicia Moreau de Justo 900, Dique 3 - Puerto Madero | Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 0114334 9336

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