March 24 – Today was “The Day of Remembrance” in Argentina, a national holiday commemorating those who “disappeared” in the coup of 1976. We expected there to be protests at Plaza de Mayo since we had seen signs going up on our first day in town. Plaza de Mayo is surrounded by government buildings, the most prestigious being the “pink” president’s mansion. One theory states that the mansion was painted pink because they used pigs’ blood which eventually faded to pink; another theory believes it was a joining together of the two main parties whose colors were red and white. At any rate we didn’t hear of any protests but we were busy remembering the dead in our own way.
So, our first stop today was at the Recoleta cemetery where 4,800 people are buried – mainly wealthy or noted politicians or military figures. The cemetery is massive yet very serene. As we strolled through the maze of mausoleums and crypts, I was impressed by the ornate statues and doors – no two looked alike. Occasionally we even peered through the glass to behold huge wooden coffins and beautifully decorated altars. One of the most visited graves, of course, was that of Eva Peron, the 2nd wife of President Juan Peron. Eva was well-beloved by the people for her work on behalf of the poor. Sadly, she died too soon of cancer in her early 30’s. Many books and movies (i.e. Evita) have been written about her. What a fascinating woman! But many other important people were buried here as well. Next time I visit, think I will take a tour so I can hear more about the history of these noted Argentines.
After walking among the dead, we decided we needed to add some color to the day so we taxied over to La Boca, probably BA’s most colorful neighborhood. It was lunchtime so we sat in one of the many outdoor cafes, La Perla, where we could people watch for a while. Most of the restaurants drew in crowds by having tango dancers perform outside in front of their restaurants – I can’t get enough of tango! After lunch, we strolled through the streets and got a glimpse of a llama – 1st one I’ve seen!
Our next point of interest was Puerto Madero (after a short nap at the hotel). Finally we reached water! The port was a great place to stroll before dinner. An old ship museum sat off to one side and a huge white suspension bridge illuminated the black sky. Before leaving the port, we found a table next to the window at Puerto Cristal restaurant and feasted on crab crepes, paella, and a rich caramel dessert. A great way to spend our last night in Buenos Aires!