Monday, March 16, 2009

On the road in Palermo . . .

Today was fairly hot and humid, in the low 90s. We walked through a lovely Japanese Garden in Palermo (and ate sushi that melted with freshness), saw the largest carp I have ever seen, strolled through Palermo’s large Rose Garden in the Parque 3 de Febrero.

We saw birds everywhere, surprising in their diversity – squawking green parrots who chipped nests high under the fronds of palm trees and three red-crested cardinals hopping in the shaded grasses near the stream.

Along the stream, we surprised coots with two babies swimming in circles around their mothers, their tiny bristly bodies not quite birdlike, their red faces seeming newly born.

And spied these Patagonian hares by peeking through the bars of the zoo (a future trip). Only the internet helped us identify these strange deer-like, rabbity faces.

We also visited the National Museum of Decorative Arts and found a dazzling exhibit of silk quilts by Silke illustrating a Tarot of the Los Arcanos Mayores (the major arcana), dividing life stages into three – the evolution of the ego (from birth to age 28), reflection to discover the inner self (age 29 to 56), and preparation for death (over 56).

As we studied these 22 quilts, roughly 4 by 7 feet, each illustrating one symbolic phase of life, we were so entranced by the artist’s creative vision, we didn’t notice the massive room, open to two floors. This mansion was once owned by wealthy Argentinians, a true mansion, with towering ceilings, Chinese art, nesuke, Ming Dynasty, a regal ballroom in the style of Versailles, sculptures from Rodin, paintings and sculptures collected in the early 19th Century from a range of French artists, including Boudin, Rodin, etc. A dining room to rival William Randall Hurst's San Simeon. I wish my words could capture how beautiful these quilts were and these rooms. To walk through each one seemed rather like walking in another era and trying to understand what it meant to live far removed from what most of us experience.

This morning we're rushing out the door to catch a plane back to the falls of Iguassu. Our hotel reportedly has internet. We'll see.

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