The Supremes – Track 4

2009.Jul.25 Saturday · 2 comments

in Life

Buenos Aires – It’s been so long since I’ve posted on my Supreme Directors’ walk series that most of you have probably forgotten that I was doing it anyway. I almost did – but I like the approach to exploring different sections of the city, so I plan to get back on track, so to speak. Now, when last we checked in with the early days of this republic, it was officially in the hands of General José Casimiro Rondeau Pereyra. However, as noted there, when he was elected, he was off on a military campaign in Peru and refused to come back, so in his place, one Coronel José Ignacio Álvarez Thomas was appointed. Now, why him? Well first and foremost, he was the guy instrumental in the downfall of Supreme Director #2, Carlos María de Alvear, so at least on that basis he was a logical fill-in sorta guy. But, what about the guy himself.

Jose Ignacio Alvarez ThomasI couldn’t find a copy of his biography, in fact, I’m not sure one was ever written. After all, he was a fill-in guy, and for just under a year, from April 20, 1815 (though not sworn in until May 6) until April 16, 1816. He was born in Arequipa, Peru in 1787. His father was a Spanish military officer and was recalled to Spain in 1797. While his father returned to Spain, the rest of the family moved to Buenos Aires and stayed there awaiting his return. In 1799, yup, at age 12, he enlisted in the army, fighting for Argentina’s independence against the British. In 1806 he was wounded and captured and remained a prisoner until the British withdrawal in 1807. He then fought under General de Alvear, as a Colonel, but when de Alvear became Supreme Director our boy Ignacio was less than enamored with his former commander’s politics and helped lead the insurrection that got de Alvear removed from office, and indirectly, putting himself in that seat. After directing some major military failures, he himself was asked to step down, and did so, though remained active in the group politics until 1820 when the General Assembly was dissolved and as a major political figure, he was arrested. However, he only served 19 days in jail before being released, apparently not considered of real import. Not much is heard from him until 1825 when he was named ambassador to both Peru and Chile, posts he served in during the first three presidencies of the republic. Returning to Buenos Aires under the de Rosas administration, he quickly embroiled himself in politics again, publicly opposing de Rosas, and found himself variously in and out of jail and exile. From Brazil, in exile, he tried to mount an insurrection, unsuccessfully, against de Rosas, and ended up having to flee to, variously, parts of Chile and Peru, where he had many contacts from his ambassadorial days. After the fall of de Rosas in 1852 he was able to return to Buenos Aires, where he lived out the remaining five years of his life, passing away July 19, 1857 at age 70.

He merits an avenue that stretches 37 blocks from its start at the point where three barrios meet – Palermo, Colegiales and Chacarita, staying on the border of the latter two, along the border of Belgrano and Villa Ortuzar, and ending up in the middle of Villa Urquiza. It’s primarily a commercial avenue, and without much in the way of truly interesting architecture, though it does, in particular, seem populated by casas de fiestas – catering halls. Completely conveniently for me, the two ends of the avenue, despite being nearly 4 kilometers apart, are served by the outbound and inbound #93 bus, which I can pick up a couple of blocks from home. I must apologize for the slight blur to the pictures – I didn’t realize until looking at the photos on the screen that there was a big ole fingerprint right in the middle of the lens.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

The avenue begins at Avenida Dorrego, at the corner where the infamous Mercado de Pulgas is. Until recently a ramshackle semi-indoor flea market that was known for everything from bargains to drug sales to anti-government activity groups, it is now under renovation – I’m not clear if to continue as some sort of market or for other purposes.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

The area is populated by second-hand furniture stores – a great place to pick up cheap deals on whatever your furnishing needs are.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

A look down the first few blocks of the avenue’s main commercial stretch.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

The first of many casas de fiestas, or catering halls.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

What is it with all the palm trees – every one of the places had them it seemed.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

A very cool, wonderful little bakery called Le Blé at #899. Picked up a delicious small baguette to nibble on as I walked. This is a place I’d be hanging out at every day if I was living in the ‘hood.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

Passed this place, La Belle Fondue, at #1091 – when was the last time I had fondue? 1970 something? I am coming back to check it out. Just because.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

A bit further along is the Plaza San Miguel de Garicoits, the only real green space along the entire walk. It’s a pretty little plaza with a couple of small fountains, walkways, and lots of benches for sitting about. Saint Mike was a Basque saint who lived in the early 1800s and founded the Society of Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram.

“These priests would be a true flying camp of elite soldiers, priests to run at the first signal to all places where they would be called, even and above all, to the most difficult ministries and where others would not want!”

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

Conveniently for these elite soldiers, there’s a military surplus store right down the block…

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

There are lots of older parrillas along the latter part of the walk, this one stood out as the cute little building that takes up an entire little triangle of land where several streets come together. Gotta come back and try it. Just because. Again.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

Pizzerias and cafes abound in this latter half as well.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

Hmmm, cheap ground beef and all the parts you might want…

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

Towards the end of the walk the avenue crosses the suburban Mitre line, headed to the northern suburbs.

Walk along Avenida Alvarez Thomas

And, looking back down the now primarily residential strip of the last few blocks at the far end.

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