We fly from Ushuaia into Buenos Aires’ domestic airport denoted as AEP (for Spanish Aeroparque). I love when we use this hectic little airport because it is right in the city, on the banks of the Rio De la Plata River, which looks like the ocean.
The Paraná, Iguazu, and Uruguay Rivers all feed into the wide, shallow Rio de la Plata, measuring 140 miles across at its mouth as it empties into the Atlantic.
Buenos Aires is a vibrant city, priding itself on being oh-so-European, with wide boulevards, outdoor cafes, and well-dressed citizens. That hasn’t changed from our last visit, but we see a lot of construction and wonder if there is a political significance.
The lawn in front of the pink presidential palace is torn up and under construction, as is the plaza with its embedded tiles displaying white scarves. Those scarves were the symbol of the mothers movement which started in 1977 with marches to protest the disappearance of their children and family members during the military regime.
It was a terrible time that lasted into the 80s, with families separated. Innocent people, thought to be a threat to the government, were tortured and killed, and then reported only as “missing.” Does the current government not want people to remember? We try not to think of the part that our own government (via the CIA) played in those atrocities.
Tango remains a big part of life in Buenos Aires. For tourists, that usually means a tango demonstration by street artists or perhaps a Tango Show. (My opinion: once you’ve seen a formal tango show, you don’t have to go again, and that’s a good thing.)
In La Boca––still a colorful and fun place to visit––one can pose as tango dancers. It turns out that this stand-up prop belongs to a vendor, who, on the rainy morning we’re there, has stepped away, so we pose for a photo with our own camera.
Do you see why it is an illegal photo? If the vendor were present, he would have positioned my head correctly, and had me look adoringly at my husband.
Our first evening in our Buenos Aires hotel, before heading off for Patagonia, we are given an Argentine Tango lesson. The instructors are good, their tips helpful. This is our second such lesson––we had a short one on the ship in Antarctica too. It makes more sense the second time around.
If you aren’t inclined to practice on a sidewalk, you can get instruction from YouTube: Argentine Tango: 8-step basic, but we may never practice enough to really dance the Argentine Tango. There’s a reason it is called the “notorious 8-step.”
The Recoleta Cemetery, a nine-acre necropolis started in 1822, a city within a city, is within walking distance from our hotel in Recoleta district. It’s peaceful, and we visit a couple of times on this trip even though it hasn’t changed at all.
Individuals own the property and their own mausoleums, filled with remains of family and friends. A family will own the property forever, unless descendants empty the tomb, pay all the back taxes, and sell it. Many are in disrepair, perhaps with no remaining family members, or those who are left cannot pay taxes and upkeep.
Just about everyone who visits Buenos Aires goes to the cemetery, and everyone who goes to the cemetery visits the place where Eva Perón (1919–1952) has been buried since 1976. Her remains were finally recovered in 1971, after being missing for 16 years––and therein lies another tale of military dictatorships with sordid details that may never be fully known. She is still revered by many Argentinians; her place of rest is now in a mausoleum indicated by her father’s surname, Família Duarte.
Very close to the cemetery is a beautiful, unbelievably big, ficus tree. Worth the look, and some good photo ops.
The Recoleta Mall is across the street from the cemetery, and just down from the Mall, is Uru Recoleta, a leather store that our guide recommends. I have no inclination to buy a leather jacket, but one woman of our group does, and when she picks it up on our return to Buenos Aires, I wish I’d shopped for one too. I see good reviews of the store, and bad––my only advice might be to make sure you have a day or two there after the jacket is finished, for alterations if needed. Her jacket is beautiful, I do know that.
The trees in Buenos Aires are beautiful too. These pink-flowered trees are Palo borracho, which translates to “drunken stick” because their trunks soak up water and expand somewhat like a beer belly. Those trees might be the only beer bellies you see in Buenos Aires––you won’t see any on the tango dancers, that’s for sure.
A full moon is shining bright as we fly away from Buenos Aires, for home.
Date of travel: March 2018.