Argentina page 1
Buenos Aires (16/5/07 - 19/5/07)
I arrived in Buenos Aires by boat from Montevideo... I immediately took the subway to the centre of town and started knocking on doors of hostels... apparently April is a busy month (I was seriously told this...). I did finally find a hostel on the corner of Ave de Mayo and Ave 9 de Julio... possibly the two busiest streets in all of Buenos Aires. So when Buenos Aires wakes up... so do I. It is a lovely quaint old building... the key looks like this.
Right in the middle of the Ave 9 de Julio, which is, incidentally, the world's widest road, there is an obelisk. Is it a conincidence that one of the banners in the background is for lubricant? I think not.
What to do in Argentina... tango of course! I went to a (surprisingly un-touristy) tango show which included dinner and a free tango lesson. The girl-boy ratio... as generally happens in all things dance-related, was favourable... well... for a guy.
This also meant that I got to sit with these lovely ladies for dinner. They are from England (to match my top), Switzerland, England and Australia...
It all started innocently enough... a bit of live music...
Ok... a couple of guys and girls come out in funky costumes... cool.
Oh, now for some dancing. How exciting. I was sitting right up the front, right next to the stage... I felt like I was going to get kicked once or twice... I didn't, but one of the dancing girls did towards the end of the show... ouch.
The lighting says it all... sexy, seductive, slick...
There was even a bit of singing...
...and a brief interlude for some audience participation. (yes, I got up to dance... as I did at the samba show in Brazil...)
Then things suddenly got really hot...
They're not bashful about touching each other in tango... hmm... I really must try to get better at this dance.
The street I was staying on - the Ave de Mayo, ends at the Plaza de Mayo - the political centre of Argentina. There are many important government buildings here... and these folks... to guard them.
Is that an obelisk in the middle of your street... or are you just REALLY happy to see me?
Buenos Aires feels more European than South American, with its obelisk, many fountains and ecclectic architecture...
The Plaza de Mayo... dominated by a statue of San Martin, one of the engineers of South American independence. He originally fought and worked alongside Simon Bolivar until internal disputes in Argentina cut supplies to San Martin... leaving him high and dry. Not wanting to get in the way, and having little to offer the cause without supplies... he stepped aside and eventually went to France (why not?). Of course... Bolivar got all the credit and San Martin simply remains an Argentine national hero.
There is a cemetary, the Cemetary of the Recoleta... apparently one of the four most important cemetaries in the world... anyway, its most famous resident is the enigmatic Eva Peron who was named after the character in the musical "Evita".
The Argentinians are a funny bunch... these two nobles were husband and wife. The wife liked to shop... alot. One day the husband decided he'd had enough, so he placed an ad in the paper notifying everyone that he would no longer take any responsibility for his wife's expenses. This, unsurprisingly, angered his wife and they had a big argument later that day. After that day, they never spoke again... although they continued to live in the same house. When they were buried... they requested that their busts face away from each other. Their coffins are also on opposite sides of the mausoleum.
Oh... the story of Rufina gave me the shivers. She was a pretty young thing on her 19th birthday when... just as the party was starting, she learned that her fiancee was having an affiar... with her mother. Shocked at this news, she collapsed... no pulse, no breathing... she's dead Jim. The birthday party turned into a wake and later that night, her coffin was placed outside the family tomb (visible just to the right of the corner) to be placed inside the next day. Stories about what happened next vary slightly... some say that the coffin was pried open and there were scratch marks on the inside, others say that she even managed to get out and walk around a bit. Whatever happened, the shock of finding herself in the cemetary was probably more than she could take (she'd had a rough day) so she collapsed... dead... properly this time. So... now she gets her own special little spot next to her family's. But wait... there's more. The boy who was having an affair with Rufina's mum continued to do so and even had a child with her! But wait... there's more! This guy was a bit of a player, siring many children but never marrying... he would later become the president of Argentina!