March 15, 2006
I planned on leaving Salta tomorrow, so today I decided to check out one of the many museums listed on my map of the city. It was siesta time, however, and not much was open. The only museum listed that was open during the afternoon was Pajarito's, and what a museum it was.
The musuem was in Pajarito's house. His nickname name means "little bird" in Spanish. I don't remember his real name, but that's OK, because everyone called him Pajarito. He earned the nickname at an early age because he was tall, thin, and very clean.
Pajarito was born in the late 1800's to a rich family in Salta. He went to college in Buenos Aires, but he didn't do much studying. When he learned that going to a rich kid's school wasn't his thing, he took up orthodontics. He didn't like that either, so he came back to Salta and got a job as a bank manager.
Nobody knew how he got the job as a bank manager because he didn't work very hard. Instead, he threw big parties every night that ended at dawn. He went to work for a few hours in the morning, and slept from the time he left work until 5:00 PM, when the partying began anew.
Pajarito's uncle bought his house for him because he didn't have any money. He made a good salary from his bank manager job, but he spent all of his money on food, alcohol, and cigars at his parties. He soon became well-known for his generosity.
Before long, every musician and artist from the country was visiting Pajarito's home. Sometimes, they planned on staying for a few days, but didn't leave for several months. The neighbors didn't seem to mind because the music that was played there was so good. In fact, by the 1950's, everyone who was anyone in the music industry of South America visited Pajarito's house at some point.
The people who stayed there often left strange gifts, which today are scattered throughout his home, just like they were fifty years ago. Included in the gifts I saw were spears from a movie set, a guitar-like instrument from Africa, and a device for holding mate and sugar where the containers were made out of a bull's testicles, and the handle was the bull's penis.
People often wrote to Pajarito without writing his actual address. I was shown several envelopes that simply said "Salta" and had a drawing of a bird. One creative author even wrote a poem on the front of an envelope describing where to send the letter. It successfully made it to Pajarito's house, despite the fact that it was sent from Peru.
Pajarito died in the 1960's. He never married or had any kids, so his house was turned into a museum. I was shown a picture of the house from the 1950's, and it looked exactly the same then as it does today. It was one of the most fascinating places I've visited in a long time.