We’re on the road again, this time to South America. So what happens now? It’s another suitcase in another hall, starting in Argentina, the land of tango and beef and wine and Evita. We used Buenos Aires as our base for three or four weeks and made side trips to other parts of this long, narrow country.
If you wonder whether Evita Peron is reviled or revered in modern Argentina, there is no doubt here in BA. She rose from the slums as an actress before becoming the young wife of a somewhat nasty president, Juan Peron. After climbing (some would say sleeping) her way to the top of the country, she was a passionate champion for the poor, underprivileged, children, and working women. Although she died young, she left behind a tremendous legacy.
Our first stop in the city was to get money. Walking along Florida Street, every 10 feet or so we heard someone say “Cambio. Cambio” under his breath. At least 30 of these moneychangers were operating on the street. We found that we couldn’t even change money at a bank, but the cambio men offered better deals than ATMs. Local residents are anxious to get US dollars. In fact, our travels here came at a good time. The exchange rate has changed by over 50 percent in our favor between December and now. From the time we got here on January 9 we’ve seen a continued climb…and the money kept rolling in.
The primary neighborhood where we stayed (and returned several times) is Recoleta. We settled in and found our favorite confiteria for delicious cookies, a movie theater (The Big Short in English with subtitles sold out!), and easy walks to museums and galleries.
Recoleta is known for Cementerio Recoleta, a huge cemetery, one of the world’s best according to BBC and CNN. This is a beautiful, peaceful spot for morning walks. Many of the mausoleums are small upright cubes with stairs descending to crypts holding the dead.
Eva Peron is buried here. When her husband was running for reelection in 1951, she was so high-flying, adored that the common people. or descamisados (shirtless ones), urged her to be his running mate. But she developed cancer and died in 1952 at age 33. Just as she was adored during her lifetime, she is honored more than 60 years later by hordes who visit her grave.
Buenos Aires has many parks. One particularly beautiful section of Palermo Woods is the Rosedal, with roses, obviously, and also palm trees, a large white arbor and bridge, and statues of poets.
Tango is everywhere in BA, in the parks, on the streets, and of course on stage.
Buenos Aires, she is a diamond. As Tim Rice wrote:
You’re a tramp, you’re a treat
You will shine to the death, you are shoddy
But you’re flesh, you are meat,
You shall have every breath in my body
The city appears to have constant demonstrations.
We didn’t quite make it to the balcony of La Casa Rosada where the heroine of Evita sang don’t cry for me, Argentina, but we gazed at it from the front, outside a tall fence. Unlike the US White House, this official residence doesn’t have a grand lawn.
If you’re wondering why all the hyperlinks, it’s because they will take you to songs from Evita (music by Andrew Lloyd Weber Evita and lyrics by Tim Rice). In the early 1980s on one of our first trips together, we (Michael and Nancy) went to New York and saw Evita on Broadway. Great show then, with a few memories to help us navigate this part of our trip.
We’re on to a new Argentina next, or at least a new spot for us.