Sand and music in the air

January 26, 2016  •  1 Comment

Yesterday we walked a little over six miles. This town is a lot larger than our first impressions of it were. We’ve been working on strengthening our travelers’ legs, since our arrival. There are advantages to not having a car on a trip like this. I like being closer to the ground so to speak, moving a bit more slowly and having more time to observe the life of the people and the environment they live in. It also enables us to meet people and exchange ideas. I have to admit that my Spanish is lacking. I think I understand the gist of what is said, but my ability to reply intelligently is hampered. Shelley, on the other hand, is doing very well and has served as the communicator for the more complex interactions, but I’m learning and recalling poco a poco.


Villa Gesell is at about the same latitude as Wellington NZ, and like my Kiwi friends used to say when describing their weather, it has “four seasons in a day”, well almost. This is our fourth day here and we still haven’t been able to figure out if a weather pattern exists. The locals tell us it’s always windy, so that’s a given; it just differs in how strong it is. Some mornings, like today, are bright and sunny, and from the window of our Hosteria, I can see the steady stream of sun worshippers trekking thorough the sand, beach chairs and umbrellas in hand, towards the aquamarine horizon. Yesterday, it was the opposite — gray, cold and of course very windy. Going out to explore, we bundled up in layers as if it were March in New England. At about noon, the climate flipped to summer, and we were peeling layers off. By evening, fall had arrived, and those layers were back on again, so the rule is, as in NZ, be prepared for any eventuality that Mama Pacha may have in store for you.

So Villa Gesell has a very interesting history. It was founded in 1932 by Carlos Idaho Gesell, a wealthy inventor and visionary who made his fortune designing, manufacturing and selling children’s furniture throughout South America. He was the son of Silvio Gesell, a German economist and social reformer who immigrated to Argentina in the nineteenth century. Carlos carried on his father’s forward-thinking. He was motivated by a search for a renewable source of wood for his furniture factory that was close to BA. When he arrived at this locale, it was nothing but barren, wind-swept sand dunes. After consulting with arborists from the US and Europe, he devised a method of forestation that was incredibly successful. He planted mostly pinion pines from seeds imported from CA. He also planted groves of eucalyptus, poplars and other varieties of local trees and shrubs. Within ten years, his labors were rewarded with hectares of verdant forests attracting varieties of birds as nesting places and providing shade and shelter from the sun and wind. To subsidize some of the costs, he built bungalows along the shore that were rented out to folks from BA during the summer months. (The winters here, by the way, are described by the Lonely Planet guide as “miserable”.) As might be expected, as time passed from the ‘40s to the ‘50s, other enterprising folks were invited to construct support services for the growing tourist trade. Making this long story just a few sentences longer, the place boomed into what it is today, a very lively city of 40,000 year-round residents and probably at least twice that in the summer. I’m not sure that the current urban high-rise development was what Carlos had in mind when he began all this, but he passed away in 1979, so it’s been long out of his hands now.

Shelter from the storm, in the forest that Carlos Gesell created


An explanation and demonstration of an ancient form of music reproduction in the Museo Historico Municipal de Villa Gesell


Chess mates at the gallery and coffee shop in the Museo Historico Villa Gesell


Atlas shrugged and the sun returns


A little about the Latin music which seems to be heard everywhere in this town. Walk by any house or hotel and its drifting out from the windows or balconies. Along the streets it’s not uncommon for a car load of kids to drive by, windows down, radio cranked up full volume and everyone in the car singing along with the catchy latin rhythms. While on our walk yesterday Shell and I stopped to take in a vibrant scene of a group of young musicians playing live for a very excited and energized audience of their peers. There were about four video cameras recording it from every imaginary angle which were connected to a broadcast van that must have been beaming the dance beat to the nation. The joy and energy was infectious.

The band and the fans


On the boardwalk, her fan and his band


In the center of Villa Gesell there is a long pedestrian mall which is definitely the place to be in the evenings


It is also the place for more music and entertainment




lots of fun pictures
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