Friday, February 12, 2010

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a lovely city, and I wish I'd had more time there.  It's a city of contrasts, and there are many different areas and types of people living there.  It was raining heavily my day there, and so I didn't see as much as I'd hoped, but I'll show you what I did see.  One person there told me that one of the contrasts is that there are areas where the people don't have enough money to live, and there is one area where they spend a lot after they die.

  The area where they spend a lot is the Cementeria Recoleto.
It's a beautiful place, a big like a maze as so many mausoleums have been built that the passages between the 'streets' are very narrow.

The cemetery first opened in 1821, and has been enlarged a couple of times, but it's pretty full.  Families spend a lot of money to build their own mausoleum, and then they have to spend more for regular upkeep, but people in South America have much stronger connections to their dead than we do in Canada and the US.  The Day of the Dead is an important holiday there, and in Mexico.  The Lacunal, a new novel by Barbara Kingsolver, which we just finished reading in the book club here, and is set partly in Mexico, has a character saying that she can't imagine the US celebrating the Day of the Dead.  This is interesting to think about, and I think it's because Americans have always been much more focused on the future than on their past.  The attitude towards the past  does more to shape a country's personality than I'd realized before.  I won't go into detail here about this issue, but we had some good discussions based on the book.

  The rainy, misty day suited the cemetery, adding an eerie, other-worldly atmosphere.  I've always loved cemeteries, love the peace that they all have, and reading the stories told my the headstones.  Eva Peron is buried in this one.

 The balcony above the entry is, I was told by several people, where Madonna stood to sing Don't Cry for Me, Argentine, when she was filming the movie Evita.

The above is from an area called La Boca, which means 'mouth'.  That refers to a river mouth.  The area used to be very poor.  When people wanted to fix up their homes a little, they couldn't afford to get a whole can of paint, so they would find paint cans that were almost empty, and use the bits of paint.  This gave their homes a patchwork look.

The current locals have kept this colourful tradition, and the area is now trendy and touristy.  There are lots of local artists and artisans, which I always enjoy, outdoor cafes, and buskers dancing tango and showing off traditional clothing.

The picture above the dancers is of a butterfly, mariposa in Spanish, that landed on one of an artist's paintings.  It seemed a fitting image for La Boca


  1. The photos of the cemetary are interesting, but i particularly enjoyed seeing the colorful houses. Too bad you didn't have a chance to connect with our family members in B.A., although I wouldn't know how to get in touch with them.

  2. like the dancers, and the colorful houses! michelle

  3. I loved Buenos Aires when I was there. And Recoletta cemetery was a highlight. Did you find Eva Peron's crypt? I also thought it amusing in a creepy way that many of the crypts have chairs inside so one can sit and visit their dead relatives. I spent a week there and was amazed and the European flavour of the city and saddened by the large number of poor. Looking forward to your next stop! - Patti