After a 2.5 hour drive with my parents on the 1-10 and the 1-40, we made it to our one-night place of stay. Glowing radiantly white against the backdrop of pure, Flagstaff night was the Little America Hotel sign right off the interstate. The blue outline and red letters let the patriotic theme stand out. A stark contrast stood beneath it: a large penguin. This image could be a testament to the young man who founded the hotel chain. History says, that after camping in the Wyoming wilderness during a blizzard in the 1890s, he wished he had a warm, inviting refuge to sleep in. Decades later, he saw a picture of Admiral Byrd’s “Little America” while in Antartica, and soon the memories of his time camping in the snowy blizzard wishing for a haven sprang up in mind. He decided to build his own and with the help of Byrd’s inspiration came Little America hotels, which are now spread throughout the western parts of the United States.
Monthly Archives: November 2009
Ten years ago, the settlers of the Northwest Valley would never have dreamt it to look as it does now: bustling intersections, a brand new football stadium, a man-made lake and an antique shopper’s paradise.
The city of Glendale has seen its fair share of transformations. Some of which include a prominent grammar school in the early years to today having Arizona State University West, Glendale Community College and the Thunderbird School of Global Management within its borders. The Santa Fe Railroad that once steamed through the city will look toward the future as the Valley Metro Light Rail is completed in 2011. The more modern part of the city consists of the Arrowhead Mall, the new Westgate shopping and dining region right next to the Cardinal’s University of Phoenix Stadium and the Jobing.com Arena, where concerts and hockey take spotlight. However, with so many changes, the community has been able to hold onto its heritage in the tiny downtown district. Some of the historic homes are actually antique shops full of books, furniture, clothing, dolls, paintings and more while other homes have been turned into restaurants with eclectic menus. Winter brings the traditional Glendale Glitters attraction, where lights sparkle in the trees and shops stay up late, booths overtake the lawn with food and merchandise, kids enjoy rides as dancers and singers perform in the amphitheater. Do not forget to visit the Cerreta Candy Company and take the factory tour, where visitors can get a first hand look at how the fudge and fine chocolates are made.
You won’t ever find yourself indoors while in the city of Peoria. It is a mecca for those who love nature, sports activities and those who want to learn something new. The Peoria Sports Complex hosts the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners for their Spring Training and is also the site of the Dolly Sanchez Egg Hunt, 4th of July All-American Fest, and Halloween Monster Bash and Balloon Illumination events. The ice skating rink and roller rink are located close by, as well as the Rio Vista Recreation Center and Park where a gym, sand volleyball courts, fishing lakes, playgrounds, baseball fields and skate park can be found. Those who can’t get enough, head up north to West Wing and Sunrise Mountains where new hiking trails have just been constructed, or even farther up north to Lake Pleasant Regional Park for boating, fishing, hiking, camping, and picnicking. The park itself sponsors many activities from scuba diving, stargazing, nature tours and even running events. If adrenaline is still pumping, enroll in Turf Soaring School, and glide through the blue skies or watch the speedsters at the Canyon Speedway Park.
Surprise, surprise, surprise…it just keeps multiplying and multiplying and it isn’t any wonder because the city already has an active shopping center and sports complex. The White Tank Mountains are the backdrop of Surprise and provide hiking trails, the Waterfall Trail being amongst the more popular and numerous events suitable for every age. For the more artistic bunch, The West Valley Art Museum offers collections of over 4,000 items from around the world, exhibitions, musical performances, and activities such as classes and workshops. If you like straying from the pack, visit the Speedworld Motorcross Park where you can practice or watch the throttles reach their maximum performance.
Within ten seconds I knew the word. But I felt like amusing my friends longer and kept circling the tarnished bell with its signature crack. Inside my head were thoughts on why this word of all words would be misspelled in the first place. I did not know the answer and yet, the homeless man had. Worried looks decorated the two faces across from me while I saw the hope bursting from the squished up cheeks of the homeless man whose smile never seemed to cease. His fellow friends watched the show from their concrete-bench bed. Starting to count down 5, 4, 3, he began walking toward me confidently again. Two and one. I stopped. So, he said, do you know the word? Certain and full of myself, I answered: Pennsylvania, it is spelled with only one “n” when it should have two. Correct, he stated without hesitation and disappointment in his tone. Continuing, he explained that the spelling had not been adopted at the time and presented his dollar bill to me, placing it into my palm. Without pause I looked at my friends who instinctively had the same reaction.
A closed fist shocked the homeless man. Insistent, he began to follow us and attempted to give us the money but we refused. I said, no, no, that it was quite alright and thanked him for allowing me to use my grammar skills. Even deeper inside was the embarrassment I felt for not knowing the history of the bell and its grammatical error. Laughter left his lips as we left his location. He returned to his friends and as we rounded the curve of the concrete wall, the corner of my eyes witnessed him moving back to his spot, straight-backed and two feet grounded in place. Normal workday people would be returning home through the doors of Union Station as the sun set a pink and red backdrop to the national mall. He, on the other hand, would be working overtime, awaiting the next contestants to his game until the very last person disappeared into the darkness. But it wasn’t really a game for him. He depended upon that one simple fact for his day to day necessities. Pensylanvia was a lifeline.
Whether it is the shoe shiner offering a quick polish outside the restaurant door or the homeless man who took claim of the misspelled word engraved upon the replicated Liberty Bell outside Union Station, I learned that they are just as much a part of the history that Washington D.C. stands for, helping us remember times gone by. The museums with their entrance fees may share textbook pictures and artifacts behind glass smudged with fingerprints from school kids and tourists but until the history walks up to you in the most unexpected way, you will never learn just how much the past remains in the present.
One of the reasons why people praised or had the wrong impression of Eva “Evita” Peron was because of the background from which she came. Visiting the towns of Los Toldos, which is located about 195 miles from Buenos Aires, and Junin will give you an insight into the poor childhood she was brought into.
“I think it’s important to know where she came from because then you understand what she accomplished,” says Rocio Villanueva, who lives in Rosario, Argentina.
Thousands of Argentine and foreign travelers visit the Casa Natal de Maria Eva Duarte de Peron in Los Toldos, which was turned into a museum, on a daily basis to see the birthplace of the woman who would make a significant impact on the country. On May 7, there is a particular celebration to commemorate her birth. Children may enter free and adults are asked to make a contribution. Guided tours are available and the museum is open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The existing hypothesis as to the legitimate birthplace of Eva Peron, whether it is Los Toldos or Junin, is what makes a look at both these towns a discussion topic among fellow travelers.
Estrella Ascendente: Rising Star
After Eva had her initial taste of fame in Junin as a teenager, where she first used a microphone and heard her voice ring through the speakers, she escaped to Buenos Aires to pursue her acting career. She toured extensively with theater groups, such as the Compañía Argentina de Comedias and Armando Discépolo.
Even in death, she still graces center stage on Broadway in Evita, but also on occasion in Argentina at Teatro Lola Membrives, on Corrientes Ave. 1280, in Eva: the musical. If it is on the playbill, it is recommended to spend an evening watching her life depicted and honored right before your eyes in poignant acts accompanied by touching music from her own country’s perspective.
As she was making her mark on stage, she was also landing small roles in films, including “La Carga de los Valientes,” “El más infeliz del pueblo” and “Una novia en apuros.” A larger part was played in “La Cabalgata del Circo” but by this time, she was also claiming a voice on the radio waves.
Primero Reunión: First Meeting
As her star began to shine, a disaster would lead her life to even bigger fame. An earthquake struck on January 15, 1944 and devastated the city of San Juan. Eva Duarte attended an event at Luna Park that helped to raise funds for those affected. It was at this occasion that she met her future husband, Colonel Juan Peron.
This site would later be a campaign stop she attended to rally supporters for Peron. Today, the park is a stadium of culture, arts, music, and other entertainment and competitive acts that is located on the corner of Ave. Madero 420. It offers a great picture-taking opportunity for the classic style and lettering of its name on the building.
The budding relationship between Juan and Eva had later become officially visible to the nation’s people during a Gala at the The Opera House “Colon Theater” that is now known world-wide as a host to a number of operas and ballets. As of this time, it is undergoing a refurbishment process with plans of reopening in 2010 but still provides a great site to visit at Cerrito 618 for its sheer architectural beauty and ability to conjure up memories of the earlier Peronism time.
Nuevo Mundo: New World
From the moment of their first meeting Juan Peron had been infatuated with Eva and the two stayed particularly close. Eva seemed to fuel Juan as she stood by his side, not behind, during his campaign for presidency, a first on many accounts.
The strong following of Juan Peron would lead him into exile from growing governmental fears; however, Eva showed her unwavering faith and rallied protesters to help aid in the release of the man many had grown to believe in. Juan would soon step onto the balcony of the Casa Rosada, located at 50 Balcarce around the Plaza de Mayo, to address those who freed him, and later go on to marry the woman who never left him and become President of Argentina.
As his wife, the working class would be Eva’s largest support system and gave her the name, Evita or “Little Eva”. Her role had been redefined, but Evita still knew who she was.
“Peron had a double personality and I would need to have one also: I am Eva Peron, the wife of the President, whose work is simple and agreeable … and I am also Evita, the wife of the leader of a people who have deposited in him all their faith, hope and love.”
She put her original pursuits behind to focus on the people of Argentina. The Plaza de Mayo was a central place of many key moments for the country, most well-known for its significance in the May Revolution events that led to the country’s independence. There is a week of celebratory events that end on the May 25 celebration of el Día de la Revolución de Mayo.
The Pirámide de Mayo stands across from the Casa Rosada in the square and is the oldest national monument reminding the country’s citizens of that historical revolution. However, it was also the place where Eva Peron helped pass Argentina’s women’s suffrage law. Since the earlier events, the plaza has gone through bombings, protests and to this day is still filled with crowds putting together demonstrations.
Su Gente: Her People
According to its Web site, the Eva Musuem, located at 2988 Lafinur, was a restored mansion turned into Hogar de Tránsito (Temporary Home) #2, a shelter for women and children with no resources.
The site notes that on July 18, 1948, Evita inaugurated El Hogar with these words, “The Temporary Home shelters those in need and those who have no home… for as long as necessary until work and a home can be found… .” Evita offered the women and children “an open door, a place set for them at the table, a clean bed,” as well as “consolation and motivation, encouragement and hope, faith and self-confidence.”
For a small entrance price, visitors can enter the museum Tuesdays to Sundays (and holidays) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and see the clothes Evita Peron wore, look at pictures of her past, relive the grand moments she shared with her country’s people and spot relics of the history she left behind in a place that she once walked through herself.
Her voice comes through the videos and recordings and speaks to you, if you are listening. It is an atmosphere of quiet reflection, an honorable experience that will touch you in unpredictable ways. It is suggested to reserve an entire afternoon to appreciate the museum as it is full of wall to wall information and well worth the price. The English version pamphlets are necessary as the information and texts are in the Spanish vernacular.
Su legado: Her Legacy
Her last public appearance was of that during her husband’s second inauguration into the Presidential office. Many had wanted her to take role as vice president, but she did not want the title and many theories, her long-standing illness being among them, surrounded her renunciation.
Evita’s health turned worse after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer that later spread and resulted in her death at the young age of 33 in the Casa Rosada on July 26, 1952, where a crowd of thousands stretched for blocks in every direction.
“I think it´s mainly because of where she came from and what she accomplished,” says Rocio, on the impact Evita had on the lives of the Argentines. “I think it gave people hope to see what they could potentially accomplish and, more importantly, saw her as someone who was like most of the people who followed her, poor, sometime during her life.”
Her body was on display for two years before it was stolen after Juan Peron had run away when he was overthrown. The whereabouts of Argentina’s First Lady remained a mystery for 16 years before it was found in Italy and then reunited with Juan Peron in Spain where he lived before returning to Argentina.
Peron then died and it was his third wife who finally had Evita’s body returned to Argentina to be next to Peron’s before it was placed in the La Recoleta Cemetery, at 1760 Junín, under intense safeguarding. It is said that her body is within a room, accessed by another room, which is then accessed by stairs underneath a trapdoor in the floor of her tomb.
Such protection of her body is a testament of the Argentine people who hold Eva “Evita” Peron in such high esteem for all she stood and fought for, wanting to bring the “hopes and dreams of the people to the president.”
It is at her gravesite where this tour ends, in the belief that you would see the many flowers that are still bestowed upon her, weaving through the iron door of her tomb, and remember the great journey one woman took in her short lifetime. Spend a moment or two reflecting on your own journey that you have just taken and witness the travelers, like yourself, paying tribute and the Argentines who are still mourning the death of their beloved First Lady.
Take a taxi to most of the places mentioned in this tour. They are all within a good distance of each other and the drivers know how to navigate the streets of Buenos Aires.
Take the subway system. It is small for a city of millions and has simple routes, which means no missing your stop.
Take the city bus. There are stops at almost every corner but the bus can become very crowded and standing room only. Still, quick and cheap.
Feeling adventurous to travel outside of the Buenos Aires province? Visit the Estacion Terminal de Omnibus, which offers a vast array of bus companies that can take you anywhere in the country. They offer different types of seating from the typical upright, to reclining and even chairs that can become beds.