Tag Archives: isabelle allende

El Ateneo Bookstore in Buenos Aires & Isabelle Allende’s new novel – El Cuaderno de Maya

If you love bookstores and you happen to be in Buenos Aires, run, don’t walk like I did to El Ateneo. It’s a stunning bookstore about 20 blocks of walking distance from my little Recoleta apartment. A former theatre where Carlos Garden once performed and a historical, beautiful building.  Even though it’s a book store, it feels more like you are in a theatre. You can relax in quiet booths with good lighting. I was given a bonus surprise as I slowly made my way through the aisles.

Isabelle Allende has a new novel just published!! It’s called El Cuaderno de Maya inspired by her grand daughters and Allende’s own life. I started to read the inside of the book. It’s the story of a girl named Maya. The story begins with: “I am Maya Vidal, 19 years old, feminine, single, no lover, born in Berkeley, California, American passport, temporarily a refugee on an island in the south of the world.”  El Ateneo only has the Spanish version now. When’s the English version coming to America, friends?

Cover – El Cuaderno De Maya – Isabelle Allende’s new book

Allende is one of my favorite writers in the world. She is from Chile but moved to California as a Chilean journalist exiled in Venezuela after the military coup in Chile of 1973. I love Allende’s voice as her stories take me away on her journeys where she weaves in and out of her life and the vivid, magical stories she creates. Allende is afraid of nothing and no one. I admire her so much.

In Chile, when she had a job translating romance novels from English to Spanish,she would make unauthorized changes to the dialogue so the women would be more intelligent and the Cinderella endings would instead become independent women who spread good in the world. She was fired from the job.

Allende says her most important issue in her life is freedom, which she created for herself.  She said “It’s about the struggle to be assertive, to be independent, to have economic independence, to get myself an education, which I was not given because I was a woman and it was not important to educate women at that time. I was supposed to be somebody’s very good wife. I was supposed to be a lady. I was supposed to be a very good mother, but I was not supposed to be creative.”

Allende describes her writing as passionate, compulsive and emotional. She laughs and cries as she writes and even gets angry at her own characters when they do things she doesn’t want them to do. She doesn’t run or hide from her losses or struggles; she writes about them. I love this broad.

Allende has included one of my favorite Mary Oliver quotes translated into Spanish in the forward of her book. Gracias, Isabelle.

Mary Oliver quote

El Ateneo Bookstore – Buenos Aires, Argentina

El Ateneo Bookstore

El Ateneo Bookstore

Olivia got hungry so we stopped for spinach, pomodoro & basil ravioli lunch at a goikey, favorite place of mine: Pertutti Restaurant. Per Tutti: For Everything!

Ravioli espinaca al pomodoro y basilico – Pertutti Restaurant


The well connected dead at Recoleta Cemetary in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Spanish language here in Buenos Aires differs from that of Spain and the rest of the Americas. It is quite different from the Spanish I grew up speaking from my Guatemalan grandmother. Argentines, Uruguayans and Paraguayans commonly use the voseo, a relict 16th century form with slightly different endings. The stresses, intonation and words are different so I’m forced to listen more carefully. I even hear a difference in the pronunciation in the north of Buenos Aires from the South. When Isabelle Allende from Chile speaks, the intonation is different as well. Still, I love being in a country where I hear Spanish being spoken outside my window as the sounds of city traffic wake me up.

There are many reasons I have been attracted to Buenos Aires. I’ve always read it’s the most European-like city in South America. It’s been described as the Paris of the South but I find that limiting now that I’m here. The people are warm and delightful, I’m fascinated with the architecture and the art plus it’s the largest Jewish community in South America. It feels like a unique combination of Italy, France and a bit of Spain all rolled into one but I’m in South America.

I am interested in South American cemetaries. Here’s a link to a cemetery I stumbled onto in La Paz, Bolivia last year.


I am grateful that I have a spirit inside of me that sings when I travel. I get a bit excited when I don’t know where I’m going, it’s a drug I can’t do without. I asked multiple people and listened extra hard because I am a bit directionally dysfunctional and because so many Argentinos speak with an Italian accent as half the country is of Italian descent. I found the cemetery after walking about what seemed like forever minutes from my apartment in Palermo. I’m not used to walking. I’m a California girl and really, no one walks in LA.

Over 4 city blocks with more than 6,400 mausoleums, 70 declared historic monuments. I passed one elaborate, ostentatious tomb after another. It’s an architectural wonder, a neoclassical explosion for the eyes. Architectural styles ranging from neo classic to art deco kept me fascinated for hours. I saw graves resembling chapels, Greek temples, pyramids and mini mansions. American cemeteries seem cookie cutter, orderly and simple by comparison. I have a penchant for the odd and unusual so Recoleta Cemetery was perfectly magical not to mention the cats all around.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Who’s your mom?

Who’s your mom?

This one made me cry-She couldn’t open her eyes

Who’s your mom?

Quien es su mama?

Feels like a red carpet entrance to lost souls where the dead are not forgotten here as fresh flowers decorate the tombs. I’m thinking all these buried had mothers and fathers and friends and lovers and worked jobs they loved and didn’t like so much and one day, it’s over. So I’m thinking, who did I touch today? Who did I help? I find inspiration from life and death as this is real life.

I could have stayed in the cemetery all day but it started to rain. I started singing Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head in my mind.

But there’s one thing I know,
The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me.
It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me.

Fortunately I was wrapped in my black shawl that Joyce gave me in Guatemala last year so I stayed dry and so did my camera equipment and my juicy 10-22 mm Canon lens.

I was walking down Avenue Santa Fe when I saw a restaurant where I liked the vibe. No sports bar tv and bright lights. When I walked in and heard one of my favorite Gloria Estefan songs playing, I knew it was the right place.


Levántese y gocen, que la vida es corta.

Alégrese por fin, que demás no importa.

Oigan bien sin temor lo que enseña la vida, señores.

No te busques otra herida con el mismo error, oigan bien.


Get up and enjoy yourself because life is short.
Rejoice finally, no matter what happens.
Listen well, without fear of what life teaches you, people.
Do not look for other wounds with the same error, listen well.


Ensalada mixta. Empanadas de mozzarella, tomate y albaltaca, cebolla y queso y vino de casa.

Mixed salad. Empanadas of mozzarella, tomato, tuna, onion and cheese w/yummy house vino.

Ensalada mixta de mozzarella, tomate y albaltaca, cebolla y queso y vino de casa.

Pertutti-desert shop on Santa Fe

Pertutti-desert shop on Santa Fe

Wouldn’t it be good if we could hop a flight to anywhere?
So long to this life.
Sheryl Crow-Can’t Cry Anymore

%d bloggers like this: