As almost everyone has heard over the past couple days, South Carolina’s Republican Governor Mark Sanford went AWOL several days last week, ostensibly hiking the Appalachian Trail, before being met at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by an inquiring reporter from the Columbia daily The State. In reality, Sanford had just returned from a "spontaneous" trip to “exotic” Argentina where, he said, he drove the scenic coastline alone.
Several observers have pointed out, some with great hilarity, that the governor would first have had to drive several hours through hundreds of miles of pasturelands, on short mid-winter days, before reaching the scenic coast of southern Buenos Aires province. If not, his best alternative was the capital's Avenida Costanera (pictured here), which runs past the domestic airport Aeroparque on the muddy River Plate estuary, before dead-ending a few miles north.
In fact, in just a couple hours, Governor Sanford could have reached the scenic shoreline of Bahía Somborombón, an area of dunes and wetlands that’s ideal for bird-watching, about 180 km (110 miles) southeast of Buenos Aires via the city of La Plata. The governor, though, was after a different species of bird - one María Belén Chapur of Buenos Aires, with whom he had been carrying on an affair that had caused his wife to throw him out of the house.
Though I’ve never met her, it turns out that Ms. Chapur is a neighbor of mine - her apartment, near the city zoo on República de la India street in the Botánico sector of Palermo, is only two short blocks from my own on República Árabe Siria (click on the map to see detail). Though her given names suggest she’s a Catholic, Ms. Chapur’s surname is Iranian, which might alarm the governor’s Bible Belt constituents that he’s not only sinned, but consorted with an enemy from the “Axis of Evil.”
As the governor’s political career seemingly ends, he might well be singing the blues or, as columnist Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post suggested, a tango. Robinson, who was once the Post’s correspondent in Buenos Aires, remarked that “Tango lyrics are, essentially, blues lyrics in Spanish: somebody did somebody wrong. And that’s what happened.”