Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Here are a few shots of downtown Tucumán. The first is the provincial government house (Tucumán is a city and the smallest province of Argentina), and the second is Congreso street, which is home to Argentina's famous "Casa Historica," the place where delegates met to sign Argentina's declaration of independence. In a way, Tucumán is like Philadelphia for the U.S., but the cities otherwise bear no resemblance to each other.
Tucumán is a relatively poor city, since it has very little in the way of industry and a lot of people. Its main livelihood is citrus and sugar cane. It used to be all sugar cane, but a lot of those fields have been converted to orange and lemon groves in the past few decades. We know some people who not too long ago began growing and exporting blueberries, of all things, a fruit that is largely unknown to Argentines. Tucumán is actually one of the world's largest exporters of citrus fruit and citrus products (e.g. lemon oil for Coca Cola). I own some shares in one of the larger lemon packing and processing firms, San Miguel S.A. (SAMI AR, traded in Buenos Aires). I wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than a dreamy fan of Argentina, but I know some of the people who work there and they tell me that business is looking up. It's extremely thinly traded, and sometimes not at all.
Tonight we leave by bus for the much larger, industrial city of Córdoba, about 8 hours by car to the south of Tucumán. We haven't been there for decades, but we want to visit some good friends of ours from California who retired a few years ago and realized that their social security checks would allow them to live in grand style in Argentina. We're taking the bus because in order to fly there we would have to return to Buenos Aires and then fly from Buenos Aires to Córdoba. Plus, the bus costs only about one-fourth what a plane ticket costs, and we can travel at night and sleep in a comfortable bed (a "cama suite" as it's called, and everyone swears it's a great way to travel). So we end up saving money and saving a lot of time.
Last night was the big party that some friends of ours threw to celebrate their 50th birthdays and their 25th wedding anniversary (third picture). There were about 200 people, and it was held in a beautiful place specially designed for big parties in the Yerba Buena neighborhood. We got there about 10:30 pm, and dinner started a little after midnight. We left about 5:30 am, not having the stamina to make it to breakfast. Lots of people were still dancing when we left. The people here are so nice and friendly and generous that it is just amazing.
Posted by Scott Grannis at 3:48 PM