Saturday, October 30, 2010

Evita: Finally at Rest

After visiting the Evita Museum yesterday, we felt to complete the story, we had to visit her grave at the Recoleta Cemetery today.
The cemetery is rather like a small town with narrow streets and crypts resembling small houses but adorned with sculptures and religious symbols.
After her death in 1953 at 33 years of age, Evita's body was taken by anti Peron forces and buried in Milan under an assumed name. After seventeen years, her body was returned to Argentina and was finally laid to rest in her family's crypt- the Duarte crypt. Juan Peron is buried elsewhere. Fresh flowers still adorn the crypt left by her admirers
We also visited the Fine Arts Museum with its excellent collection of Impressionist paintings - we particularly liked the Sisley and Monet ones.
On the way to the cemetery we stopped off at the Opera House - "Teatro Colon" that is now open after a 3 year refurbishment........ not quite as big a job as the one we did at Forster! There are no shows on during our visit but we did manage a peek into the foyer. We also queued for tickets at the National Theatre but the only offering was a musical comedy in Spanish and we did not think our Spanish was quite up to the task.
Tomorrow - 31 October- we leave for the Iguazu Falls.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Visiting Evita

As public attention turned to the south of the country for Nestor Kirchner's funeral, we decided it was appropriate to visit the Eva Peron Museum. This was an interesting account of her life from her days as a movie star to the rise and fall of the Peron government.

She was loved by the poor and hated by the rich for her social welfare values but still managed to acquire an impressive collection of hats, gowns and shoes that were on display.

On the way, we walked to Plaza de Mayo and paid our 3rd visit to the cathedral, this time to look at in detail and then caught the subway to Palermo. Palermo was disappointing but we did spen an hour walking the district in a light drizzle. More interesting was the Plaza Italia near the museum and we walked past the Zoo and the Botanic Gardens.

The subway is an experience in itself, more packed than downtown Tokyo and just a tad more efficient than Sydney.

We finished the day with dinner at a local restaurant, very pleasant especially the bottle of Trapiche Torrontes from the Valle de Cafayate. Torrontes is a distinctive Argentinean white wine unique to Argentina

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nestor Con Peron El Pueblo Con Cristina

We spent today watching the people of Argentina grieve at the loss of their former president but celebrate his life.

The sign "Nestor Con Peron El Pueblo Con Cristina" means something like "Nestor is with Peron, The People are with Cristina".

So highly regarded was Nestor Kirchner that he is now considered to be in Heaven with Juan Peron but the people are giving their support to his wife Cristina, the current President.
It was an amazing day of public outpouring of grief, of emotion and exuberance in an evocative display by a proud nation. It was an honour to share in this occasion.

As we write this near midnight, the queues of people still extends for several kilometres as they wait to pay their respects to a fallen hero of the people.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arrival to Drama in Buenos Aires

View from our hotel window.

After our long flight, we finally arrived in Buenos Aires..... about 1 hour before we left Sydney.

Today is a public holiday in Argentina - Census Day, All the shops, restaurants etc have been closed all day but the restaurants open again at 8 pm. Since dinner is usually after 10 pm it probably does not worry the people here - only hungry Aussies!

We walked from our hotel down to the main square, the Plaza Mayo where crowds were massing following the unexpected death of the former president and husband of the current president, Nestor Kirchner.

We now know the meaning of the phrase "public outpouring of grief". Hundreds and thousands of people gathered in the square and the surrounding streets. They were carrying banners and flags and were singing and chanting slogans.

In the cathedral, preparations were underway for a memorial service. It was very dramatic and moving.

Back in our hotel room, we could look down on the impressive Av de 9 Julio with its 20 lanes of traffic. The crowdswere spilling out at the intersection of Av de Mayo which leads down to the Plaza Mayo, the cathedral and the presidential palace.

The tv stations are all focused on Kirchner's death. He was much loved in Argentina and highly respected in the other Latin American couuntries.