Monday, November 9, 2009

The Train Shed, La Plata, Argentina, Planet Earth

“The railroad sharpened the umbilical destiny of Buenos Aires: progressively and irredeemably it made it into a head severed from the body. The iron ways were a dream of the metropolis, and they stretched out its predatory tentacles across the pampa.”

-Ezequiel Martinez Estrada “X Ray of the Pampa” 1933

While the Argentinean train system may have been at its peak during the 30's, privatization and poor management resulted in the miles of unused track and ghost stations that can be found across the country. There are tons of abandoned stations here in La Plata, which are in the process of being converted into cooperatives or craft stores.

The "Galpón de Tolosa" (Tolosa Train Shed) is a perfect example of the La Plata community taking things into their own hands. Abdandoned for decades, it has been a year and a half since students and neighbors have converted the old train shed into a community center hosting everything from gardening to yoga classes.

Walking towards the center Sat. night, I could see several bonfires burning around the center; the scent of youth and anarchy was in the air. We huddled around a bonfire sipping on wine before going on a tour of the center's "self-sustained" vegetable garden. I was honestly impressed with the center itself, though repainted, it still maintained a very bohemian vibe. Cheap cover and cheap drinks weren't too shabby either. The first band we was sort of a bluesy/indie type group (John Spencer Blues Explosion with better harmonies) which I dug. The second band ended up driving most of my entourage outside, as it was bad indie noise rock (anything where I can't make out the melody is rubbish!).

As we were leaving, I saw spray painted on a wall: "Galpón de Tolosa, La Plata, Argentina, Planeta Tierra" which seemed fitting for our exit, as well as the title of this post.

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