Turning everyone else’s trash into lighthearted objets d’art, Joaquín Alonso’s magnum opus is a whimsical labor of love by a man seemingly incapable of throwing anything away. In the process, he’s created credible mural replicas of works by Florencio Molina Campos, Benito Quinquela Martín, and even Pablo Picasso (Guernica).
The most amusing single item may be the palo borracho (a pun on northern Argentina’s spiny Chorisia speciosa tree, colloquially known as “drunken stick” because of its water-swollen trunk). The leaves of this drunken stick, though, are beer and wine bottles.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Alonso’s one-hectare property contains 50,000 wine and beer bottles, 30,000 aluminum cans, 25,000 spools of thread, 12,000 bottle caps, and 5,000 plastic bottles, along with automobiles, TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, and 200-liter water tanks. It’s easy to amuse yourself for an hour or so just looking at the odds and ends, and even easier if your Spanish is good enough to appreciate the aphorisms on scattered plaques.
Parque El Desafío (Avenida Almirante Brown s/n, tel. 02965/49-1340, US$2 adults, US$1 children) is open 9 p.m.–1 p.m. and 3–8 p.m. Thursday–Monday, 3–7 p.m. Tuesday–Wednesday. The elderly Alonso, who turned 90 in early 2009, is only occasionally around, but his family continues the tradition.