Christmas Eve in Buenos Aires

Trip Start Dec 11, 2004
Trip End Jan 01, 2005

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Hello Everyone, (Bruce here, Vicki editing)

We had a nice day. Vicki found us a far superior hotel and we crossed over in the morning. Even the breakfast at the first hotel was cheap and measly. There were no questions as we checked out, just disaffected limp service. Phew. The new place is more expensive but worth it. We are now on rue Callao about 10 blocks west of where we were.

We then went to Ricoletta, the fancy part of town, in order to check out where rich people get themselves interred in style. Lots of beautiful crypts, in all sorts of styles, but particularly (much to Vickiīs delight) in Art Nouveau style (1895-1920)
when I guess Buenos Aires was king of the southern hemisphere. Lots of beautiful organic shaped metal doors with glass and etched crystal. Some of the crypts have coffins stacked 12 deep--a veritable vertigo of corpsosery.

The best one was a memorial to a dead teenage daughter from her father--a life size bronze in a kind of pre-Raphaelite pose, hand on her faithful dogīs head. No word if the dog was interred with her.

Of course, we also had to go see Evita. It was mercifully not too tacky, though there are at least 5 nameplates in her honour, one of them as recent as 2003! It was festooned with fake flowers and some real tiger lilies. I transposed one of the yellow silk roses to the grave of a woman doctor just around the corner (more deserving I hope).

It threatened to rain all the time and the cemetery was very windy and dusty but the skies were tame to us. Another feature was the extensive collection of cemetery cats, actively fed by the staff. Vicki broke her guard and petted one particularly lonely beast. Good thing taps are frequent in order to wash off the fleas and people dust.

We then went to have a good and inexpensive lunch at a recommended joint called La SanJuanino: Vicki had tea (boldo flavour) and tamales; I had two spicy empanadas (surprise!) con carne; and we shared an _insalada erotica_ which was basically a Waldorf sans lettuce. Odd, but tasty with the roquefort.

We then parted ways in order to go shopping for xmas trinkets for you guys and each other. Vicki was more successful than I was, but at least I found a fancy bottle of Mendoza Vino to share for tomorrow. No word on what Vicki got me... I hit a bakery on the way home for backup foodstuffs (believe me, the city came to a standstill at 6pm).

We then relaxed until 9pm, when we went off to Mass at a nearby cathedral. It was an Italian style building, but largely under renovation, so no word on how good the tiles were. The front was gorgeous, with Italian blue plaster with gold heavens (Que fanciosa), our favourite. It was standing room only, with people continuing to file in non-stop. The service was very Vatican Two, no Latin alas, but it was friendly and peaceable. In particular, the singing was quite different: a chorus of women, accompanied by a Latin-tuned guitar; the effect was calming and charming, as opposed to the boister of the familiar northern carols. To our right was a super-Christian-Goth man; he was sporting a neck cross an inch thick of wood and on the crown of his bald head was a mega-intricate tattoo that seemed to consist of lightning bolts surrounding a rosicruciate. Vicki noticed he was prostrated in prayer longer than anyone else. His goth girlfriend and goth mother-in-law werenīt quite so piously inclined. We stuck around for 40 mins or so before our feets gave out on the hard marble. We went back to the lovely hotel and I watched almost all of Godfather 2 as Vicki tried to doze.

But the streets were more alive than before, especially as there is a tag-team of motorcyclists throwing M1 firecrackers into the streets, just to give you that Vietnamese Tet feeling. The city let off fireworks on 9 de Julio St. at midnight, which we could hear but only see reflections of; the firecracker people kept it up till 3am, just to give Jesus a welcome that only a handgun facsimile can provide. So I made it to the end of Godfather 2. How could he kill Fredo? Not very Christmassy.

Also in the streets are many beggars, including six to eight year old kids sniffing glue and drinking litre-size bottles of beer; hard to know if that is more depressing than the frequent sight of destitute mothers with infants. But that is the reality of big-city life outside Canada--you canīt run out of saying, Lo Siento, Iīm sorry. Also of note are the parentless streetkids who dance in the traffic, juggling and cajoling for fractions of peso. One girl I saw might have been four years old, juggling beanbags and standing in the middle of the lanes as cars zipped by on the 20 lane wide (I counted) boulevard. Don't know if streetkids are better than tanks in the long run.

So on that cheery note, we are hoping all is well with you and your families and that you have a Felice Navidad. Tomorrow we have no plans in particular and donīt know if we will be able even to internet, but we will be thinking about snowbound you.

Love Vicki & Bruce
Sybbe sy mid eow eall! (Peace be with you all, in Old English)
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