Our exciting winter cruise ended off with a stop in Buenos Aires! It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I was finally able to make use of the shorts I’d brought on the trip.
A very nice tour guide drove us around town. Our first stop was Plaza de Mayo, which was where the May Revolution of 1810 first began, marking Argentina’s first step to independence from Spain! In the middle of the plaza is a very tall statue of a woman who represents liberty. The Presidential Building is on one side of the square, and it’s pink like the White House is white! In the picture below, the balcony on the left that is sort of indented is where Evita made her famous speech!
Plaza de Mayo is still a centre for political activity. Painted pictures of women wearing scarves covered the ground, representing the mothers of the “disappeared people” who had been killed by dictator governments. Every Thursday at 3:30, mothers come to the square with a photo of their son or daughter, as a form of protest. I stumbled across a mural of these mothers in La Boca, a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. I think the names on the top left corner are names of the children who were taken.
There were other protesters too, just at the edge of the square. Some were war veterans who were upset because they hadn’t received compensation or recognition from their time serving in the Falklands War/Guerra de las Malvinas. Though they had enlisted, they never actually made it to the frontlines or participated in battle, so the government felt like it was okay to just ignore them.
And speaking of the Falkland Islands, the wall surrounding the square had an Islas Malvinas! mural on it. Actually, we saw a lot of anti-Falkland posters/signs/murals during our trip. (Margaret Thatcher, you’ve made the Argentinians very angry!)
We also visited the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, Pope Francis’ home church.
After visiting the church, we went to El Ateneo, the second most beautiful bookstore in the world, according to some magazine. It really was beautiful, though. The bookstore is housed in what used to be a theatre. There was also a little cafe on the stage. If the books had been in English, I’m quite certain I would have tried to stay all day.
Then we went to a cute little street which I’ve forgotten the name of. It’s not really a tourist attraction; one of the residents decorated the outside of his house in mosaics, then got some art students to finish the rest of the street. It was a colourful little place!
Our last stop in Buenos Aires before heading to the airport and back to real life was Eva Peron’s grave. The cemetery where she was buried is full of rich people’s tombs. Each plot of land belongs to a different family and the bodies are placed in buildings that look like miniature houses or castles or churches, and everything was ornate and made of marble and very fancy! Our tour guide told us that when she was a teenager, she would play hide and seek in the cemetery with her friends (uh, CREEPY). Evita’s grave is a bit less fanciful than the others. She is buried with her sister’s family, since her body had been stolen and hidden so many times since her death.
That was kind of a sad story to end on, but I think I’ll end my post here. Sorry about that. We also went to a busy, touristy, super fun area of Buenos Aires during our day there, so I’ll write about that soon!