Recoleta Cemetery

Trip Start Jan 28, 2008
Trip End Feb 08, 2008

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

This is how I described the trip to date up until today, to my family via email. This is my excuse for saying that my little note book did not get a lot of use.

"Dear Family: The biggest news is that we are not going to go to the Iquazu falls, there is just TOO much to see and experience in Buenos Aires. This city reminds us of a history book, as one turns a page, more is discovered to add to the previous pages of knowledge and understanding. Or like ripe fruit, the closer one concentrates on each part of it, the more tastes that are experienced and the more one wants to hold those tastes and swirl them around the palate creating a savory memory forever. Wow! On the other hand if we dwell too much on the history, the years and events start to almost collide into the back of each like an embouteillage in Brussels."
(continued) "We now have been to Uruguay and would go back there again as we also would come back to BA. Santiago, and Chile was at one time going to be 'just a quick stop to pick up a flight home', but from what we have been hearing, it may be as alluring to us as what we have experienced so far in Argentina. Montevideo is to BA like Maceio is to Rio de Janeiro, like Melbourne to Sidney, like Oxford to London. One is lay back and quiet, the other hustle, history and modern cultures mixed in a touristy hot pot! Or perhaps another way of thinking about is that one is loved because it is needed and the other is needed because it is loved. "
(continued) "From listening to locals and tourists, there is a strong and continuous debate as to which one deserves what title. Anyway, on another topic, you heard of the attack on me by banditos where I was de-kneecapitated, but fortunately not de-capitated by cars aiming for me on purpose. Needless to say, we made it back to the apartment as previously described. Our real, serious, non-exaggerated fear was that I would be unable to walk for a while. Rather than compress with bandage as used to be part of the 'ICE' method for sprains and strains, I kept it iced and elevated enough to be ready the next day to try it out and then I walked as much as I could and stretched the ankle that was obviously the worst and in considerable pain."
(continued) "Ingrid had been given this advice only a couple of months ago after taking a similar nasty fall that took her to emergency for fear of a broken ankle. She was as surprised as I was to hear of this new treatment for sprains and twists. Anyway, after one week, the abrasions were minor as they should have been, but also as usual, the twists and swelling were still a nasty bit of business. The ankle was just healing when I notice that the other ankle (no pain up to this point) is now swelling and bruising is showing. I start icing this ankle and elevating and continue walking." And DID we walk? We continue to average about five hours a day on our feet of which three are good ankle-testing promenades.
(continued) "Today, the swelling is now going down and except for yesterday in which we rested it, I have been able to get along reasonably well, pulled by the taught leash held in Ingrid's hand as she mutters under her breath: you ain't gonna spoil this vacation with some widdle wobbbly way of walkin' - you ain't (or something to that effect). Our fears of the vacation going down only as a taxi tour are no longer held. I am now a believer of NOT compressing twisted or sprained joints. I guess Shakespeare was correct when he said to throw 'physic' (medicine) to the dogs - he will have none of it. One day we have a cure for something and the next...?"
(continued) "The vacation is a dream; hot but with so many air conditioned places and so many shaded streets and parks, it is better, than bearable. AND, the humidity is different than in Ottawa. Don't ask me what, my throat is constricted by this pulling/jerking of leash motion against it. Ask Ingrid, she has all the answers, except for the ability to give map directions; however, I am sure that native skill will return quickly! Today we will explore Recoleta, its memorials, benedictions, statues, parks and the amazing rubber tree, the Recoleta Cemetery and it goes without saying we will visit Evita´s tomb." Today, we woke up at 11:00 am ! Ingrid swept and vacuumed the apartment. Let's tell this story the way it really is, that is to say she went over what the maid missed yesterday. If only the maid knew, she would realize what it is like to be married to a German, uh - I mean a perfectionist, no - living with someone who just loves a spotlessly clean home and is in her element when it is so.
Can I complain? I don't think so; after all, I do have one or two quirks myself I believe. So I am told... Anyway, today we have now started another walking tour, using the subway where we might have otherwise used a taxi and the old 'shanks mare' for the rest of Recoleta which is a large district and only seen partially through the windows of returning taxis in past days. Recoleta is an extraordinarily beautiful district. It is like walking into a ladies bed-sitting room with its sunshine and flower coloring and the important pieces-de-resistance objets d'arts.  Where there may be petite statuettes on shelves or memorabilia set out on a coffee or end table, there is the same in the parks and grounds of every street. It is like walking on a mattress or feathered cool by servants standing at bedside pushing forward breezes from an open window.
The statues are of heroes, victors, martyrs and the ordinary fallen defender of the country or a principle, a value, a mission, a belief...sometimes within a statue is a carving telling another story. It may be legend, it may be ironic. In some cases the ironic are mixed with iconic. Recoleta was a 'not to be missed' part of our itinerary, especially the cemetery. The latter is the tomb of the famous Eva Peron - better known to young people (and perhaps not so young as well) as 'Madonna' in an ironic twist of revisionist misnaming of Peron's wife. For anyone reading this and planning to go to the Recoleta Cemetery, keep in mind that the map gives a tourist guide as to where to go. It does NOT tell you that the back row against the road with apartments looking down, are some of the largest and most beautifully created/ designed sites of all.
Go there at any time when other parts are crowded and/or leave it to the end for a relaxing stroll to finish your visit. Take water and a snack with you as nothing is sold inside. And, DO buy the map - it is less than the cost of a bottled water and is invaluable for the day and as a keepsake; however, more important, the proceeds go 100% to the upkeep of the cemetery through a non-profit organization. Ingrid may tell you of the young German lad she met whom she then asked to take our photo. This is the first time ever, me thinks, that Ingrid has made the request. She hates me (well is a wee bit uncomfortable) asking people to take our photo; I haven't figured out what she thinks about me offering to take photos of others. I think this trip has been a true eye-opener for her in many of the nuances of world travel not experienced by her before.
One example is seeing young kids asleep in subways on the ground where it is cool and for them a respite from daily histories of which most of us would rather not think or know about. Ingrid almost wanted to call the local police to get them help, even though hundreds of locals were walking by them all the time. Anyway, that is how we got this photo... she asked.
As we enter and come across our first pathway to the right, imploring us to come down, visit and not think of it as a cemetery but as a place and time to give a 'silent testimony' and help honor all the politicians, military men, states-people, explorers, priests, leaders, writers and poets.
And of course Evita Duarte/Eva Perron....
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