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Vacation Day 17
Sunday, February 8th
Buenos Aires, Argentina

At approximately 5:50 AM this morning the ship docked at Buenos Aires. The sun was just rising on what was to be a bright, sunny and quite warm day as I remember.

First I will start with some basic history and facts about this city. Buenos Aires was founded in 1536 by a Spaniard, Pedro de Mendóza. He, along with 1500 others arrived at the time of year that he expected to be the end of winter. He did not realize the the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere so he actually arrived at the end of fall going into winter. Since they could not grow any food they nearly starved. It seems that they got to eat a lot of fish. These people eventually moved inland and Buenos Aires did not really get important until silver was found and mining started some 50 years or so later. It was founded again then and been there ever since.

As with most of South America there were wars (Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, British amongst others) and Argentina finally declared its independence in 1807.

Buenos Aires is the largest city in South America with just over 11,000,000 people. It is situated on the western shore of the Rio de la Plata a couple of hundred miles from its mouth. See the map below.

Rio de la Plata Map

Rio de la Plata means River of Silver, which makes sense when you realize that silver was an important mineral here. You will probably see this map again tomorrow for Montevideo.

The shore excursion for today is called Buenos Aires Highlights. It is a very quick (three and a half hour) overview of this city. One thing that you may notice in some of these pictures is the lack of traffic on the roads. It is Sunday and most of the natives were out of the city at beaches or the like enjoying the bright sunny day. The fact that it was Sunday also annoyed many of the shoppers on board the ship as most of the stores were closed. Gee, that was too bad!

Just a technical note before we begin. Many of the pictures on this page were taken out of the bus's windows. The majority are not too bad but some are dark due to the tinted windows. Luckily the tint was a neutral grey and did not do anything serious to the colour. I have tried to correct some but the difference does not seem to be significant so I have left most of them alone.

Let us begin......

Mechanical Flower
You can probably find just about any type of magazine you might ever want here.
This is a mechanical flower make by some well known sculptor (Argentinean, I think) . It automatically closes at night when it gets dark and opens in the morning when the sun rises.
Statue 1
Statue 2
Some important person. I think he was an educator or something similar.
I believe the statue is of an important general in Argentina's history. The domed building to the right is the planetarium.
Statue 3
Buildings 1
This was very important but I cannot remember why now.
A typical Buenos Aires condo.

Most of the next group of pictures relates in some way to Eva Perón. So, this seems like as good a place as any to say something about her.

She was born Eva Duarte to a peasant family. There is some uncertainty to the exact date but it was most likely May 7th, 1919. Her mother was the mistress of a business man. The two never married. She was illegitimate and the father went back to his legal family when she was one year old. She gradually became interested in acting and singing and around her 15th birthday moved from the town of Junin to Buenos Aires. Over the next while she became an actress mainly in radio dramas and some films. In the early 1940's she became partial owner of a radio station.

She met Juan Perón on January 22, 1944 at a Gala to raise funds for an earthquake that killed 6000 people in San Juan, Argentina a week earlier. They became close and there was some more political intrigue (mainly a class issue, him being from the upper class and her not). Somewhere in here they got married. She was involved in his political campaign for president in 1946. She was a very popular radio personality and that helped him get elected. She also traveled all over Argentina campaigning for and with him.

After he became president she set up the Eva Perón Foundation. It did an enormous number of good things and this is the way in which she became to be such a well known and almost revered person in Argentina. There have always been questions about money and how it was handled during this period. The country was in not too good of shape economically. It was during this time that she encouraged the people of Argentina to call her Evita which is roughly equivalent to "Little Eva" or "Evie".

In 1951 many people tried to have her run as vice president with her husband. Her health had been deteriorating over the previous few years and she was too sick to do so. She died on the 26th of July, 1952 at the age of 33 of advanced cervical cancer. The country went into mourning for days and there was a state funeral. Her body was embalmed and she was put on display in a government building. In 1955 her husband was overthrown in a military coup. Her body was taken off display and disappeared for 16 years. During this period it became illegal to mention either of the Perón's names in public or even have a picture of them in a home.

Finally, in 1971 the government admitted that her body had been flown to Milan, Italy and buried in a crypt there. Later in 1971 it was exhumed and flown to Spain where Juan Perón was living in exile. He looked after it until 1973 when he returned to Argentina and was elected president for a third time. He died in office in 1974. Isabel Perón, who was his vice-president, succeeded him and had the body returned to Argentina and buried where it is now. Interestingly, at this time Isabel Perón was the first women to become the leader of a country in the Western Hemisphere.

Evita is either loved or hated in Argentina. If you were upper class you hated her for her policies. If you were the lower class (by far the vast majority) you loved her for her policies. There is (or was) virtually no middle class in Argentina.

So, after that long winded description, here are the pictures I mentioned at the beginning.

E Paron 1
Bas at Peron Statue
This is a monument to Evita in the Recoleta area of Buenos Aires.
Our bus stopped at the the monument. They do not normally stop here but there was so little traffic this day, they did.
Market Stalls
This is an area where vendors were going to be setting up stalls for a Sunday morning market. This is the picture that has nothing to do with Evita.
Cemetary 1
Cemetary 2
This is the entrance to La Recoleta Cemetery. Why are we here? This is where Evita or Eva Duante is buried. The wall around the cemetery. You can see some of the gaudy tombs inside. There are more to come.
Cemetary 3
Cemetary 4
This is here just to give you an idea of how large a place this is. I think they said there were 4000 tombs/crypts or whatever here.
Inside the gate.
Cemetary 7
Cemetary 8
Here are some of the tombs or whatever these are called.
This one is one of the largest and is unusual because the two people buried here were a married couple. That is not so unusual. What is though, is that one was Jewish and the other was Catholic. That is the reason for the Menorah and Cross one above the other. I do not know how rare this is here, but apparently it is very rare there.
Cemetary 5
Cemetary 6
More and more, all jammed together.
Even more crowed here.
Cemetary 9
Cemetary 10
One of the gaudier ones.
I think they told us that this one was a replica of the house the people had lived in and that was where they wanted to be buried.
Cemetary 11
Cemetary 12
Here you can see the coffins inside one of the tombs.
Another group of them on the way in to Evita's tomb.

It should be noted here, if you have not come to this conclusion already, that this is what you might call an elite high society cemetery. I think it is fairly obvious that you would need to have money to be here. Apparently each spot is purchased and looked after by the family of the people buried here. After a very long period, something like 99 years and if it has not been maintained, the space reverts back to the city and is sold to another family.

After going through all of the above, here is what we are really here to see. Eva Duarte/Perón's tomb. The quote below is from Wikipedia's article about Eve Perón and describes the tomb that you will see in the four pictures that follow.

"Extensive measures were taken by the Argentine government to secure Evita's tomb. There is a trapdoor in the tomb's marble floor, which leads to a compartment that contains two coffins. Under the first compartment is a second trapdoor and a second compartment. That is where Evita's coffin rests. Biographers Marysa Navarro and Nicholas Fraser write that the claim is often made that Evita's tomb is so secure that it could withstand a nuclear attack. "It reflects a fear", they write, "a fear that the body will disappear from the tomb and that the woman, or rather the myth of the woman, will reappear.""

Here are those pictures.

E D tomb 1
E D Tomb 2
This is the Duarte tomb.
Here is the plaque indicating the place.
E D Tomb 3
E D Tomb 4
Another plaque.
A view of the tomb showing all the plaques. The two in the previous pictures are the top and bottom ones on this side.

The high society type of people that have family buried here do not like the fact that Evita is buried here. She was from a commoner background and not a high society background. Apparently this feeling still very much exists today.

Here are a couple more pictures taken as we left the cemetery.

Cemetary 13
Cemetary 14
The one with the stature has a sad story. The young girl (around 16, I think) died and the father was so distraught that he made the sculpture of her and her dog himself, and had it put here. I do not remember if it was mentioned whether or not the dog had died to.
Here we are making our way out of the cemetery.
It certainly is an unusual place.

So, after an hour and a half I think is was, the tour continues on towards our next stop in the La Boca area of Buenos Aires.

Partial Obelisk
This is the cities Grand Theatre, built in 1908. This is the back of it. We never saw the front. Apparently it has very good acoustics. It was under renovation. This is the bottom of a 230 foot obelisk. It was the best picture almost anyone got of it. It is located in the Plaza de la República and was built in 1936 to mark the 400 anniversary of Buenos Aires's birth.
Old City Hall
Just across a street from the obelisk is an area that represents the provence's of Argentina. This is all part of the Plaza de la República which is located in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julis (9th of July Avenue) which is billed as one of the widest streets in the world. It apparently ranks right up there with the Champs Élysées in Paris. I think this building is the Colonial Town Hall which is just across the street from the Plaza de Mayo. It is a museum now.
Plaza de Mayo 1
Plaza de Mayo 2
As mentioned, the Plaza de Mayo. The white pyramid in the centre symbolizes peace and liberty. This is the pyramid in Plaza de Mayo as we went around the plaza to the right from the previous picture. Apparently Mothers have rallied at this site since 1970 when many of their sons mysteriously vanished. This was thought to be a result of a corrupt and brutal government at that time. The symbols on the ground have something to do with this.
Casa Rosada 1
Casa Rosada 2 Balcony
This is the Casa Rosada or the Presidential Palace. I think I heard the name Pink House mentioned as well. This is the famous balcony where Juan and Eva (Evita) Perón spoke to the gathered population. I believe this is where the famous song Don't Cry for Me, Argentina from the musical Evita takes place. This building is just ceremonial now, the president (currently a women) lives elsewhere.

Stalls 2

Another one of those sidewalk markets.

Just a comment about Plaza de Mayo. The tour people would not let us out of the bus here because a tourist had apparently been assaulted here in broad daylight several weeks before. This is why there are only pictures from the bus. You could go there on your own but they advised against it.

The last stop on this tour was the La Boca area of Buenos Aires. This area is one of those areas with unusually and brightly colourful houses and just about everyone here lives sports all the time, especially what they call football but to us is known as soccer. The reason for this is that this is where the stadium is and I guess what is generally considered to be the best "football team" is. Maradona, the famous Argentinean soccer star played here. He was not actually from this area but this is where he made his name. He has been fairly news worthy mainly because of issues with drugs. He became best know when he played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991. He is still a very important and revered figure here. Presently, he is managing Argentina's national soccer team.

So here are the pictures of the La Boca area starting with, what else, the football (soccer) stadium.

Football Stadium
Football Wall of Fame
This is where the Boca Juniors soccer team plays and where Maradona played during his two stints as a player with this team. This is their wall of fame of soccer stars that have player here. The very top one, that is mostly in the shade is Maradona.
Colourfull Houses
First Harbour 1
Some of those colourful houses I mentioned.
This harbour area was the place where Buenos Aires was founded. It was the first harbour and only minimally used now.
First Harbour 2
Sailors Memorial 1
The other end of the first harbour.
A memorial to sailors lost at sea.
Fooball Dog
Shop 1
This dog is a real soccer fan. He is dressed in the colours of Argentina's National Soccer team.
This is a restaurant and bar on one of the main streets in the La Boca area. Notice the colours. These are the soccer colours again!
Shop 2
Flowers on Tree
Above the door of the bar are these three figures. The left one has something to do with the invention of the Tango dance. The middle one is Evita and the right one is, guess who, Maradona the soccer star.
Some flowers growing high on a tree. I have no idea what they might be.

Tongo'ers 1

The Tango was invented in Buenos Aires (so they say).
There is some question that it was in Buenos Aires, but it is definitely Argentinean.
These women were posing with tourists to make it look like they are doing the tango with them.

After leaving La Boca we headed back to the ship through an area called Puerto Madero. This is a newly developed area that is becoming something like those waterfront developments that seem to happen in most cities that have waterfronts. This one has old warehouses converted, some into businesses, and others into lofts and even a couple into a university campus. There are restaurants, museums and the like here as well. All the streets in this area have women's names. I am not sure why though. It is considered to be one of the most successful waterfront renewal projects in the world.

Here are the last pictures as the tour returns to the ship.

Womens Bridge
The newly renovated Puerto Madero area through the bus window.
This is called the Women's Bridge. Other than a unique design for opening and closing there does not seem to be any special reason for the name. The tall buildings in the background are hotels and the like.
Conference Centre

This rather unusual picture was taken because the tour guide told us that this was the building where Eva Duarte first met Juan Perón. It is a convention centre type building that can seat 20,000 people according to her. The tour guides story was that this is where the performance related to the earthquake I mentioned above took place.

I cannot confirm the story. The information I have would tend to indicate otherwise, that being that the performance was in another city and not here.

I like her story, so lets go with it. I cannot prove otherwise.

After returning to ship I spent some time taking some pictures of what could be seen from the ship. Here are a few of those.

From Ship 1
From Ship 2
From deck 9 looking probably south.
As you can see, the ship was docked at a container dock. We had to take busses from here to the passenger terminal. Downtown Buenos Aires in the distance beyond the containers.
From Ship 3
From Ship 4
This ship kept following us around. It seemed to keep showing up wherever we were. More of Buenos Aires in the distance. I took this picture to show that large ad on the side of the building. It is for something called Brahama. It looks like beer or something similar.
From Ship 5
From Ship 6
Taken along deck 9 looking out into over the always muddy
Rio de la Plata.
It was a very warm and sunny day so they had the roof over the normally indoor pool open, making it an outdoor pool.

Crows Nest

This was the nightclub on the Amsterdam. It was called the Crows Nest.
The windows look forward in the direction the ship is sailing.
This was one of the rare times that there was nobody in it.

Just before 9:00PM the ship sailed for the 11 hour, 142 nautical mile trip to Montevideo, Uruguay. This may seem like a long time to go such a short distance but the Rio de la Plata is very shallow and the ship is required to follow very specific channels that are narrow as well as shallow. There are high speed catamaran type ferries that go between Buenos Aires and Montevideo several times a day. That trip takes only three hours. This ship is a whole lot bigger than those are.

Departure 1
Departure 2
Basin C, Site 6 (or pier head) where the ship had been docked for the last 15 hours. We were on the right and are just pulling away from it.
Same thing just a bit further out.
Departure 3
Departure 4
The moon rising over the Rio de la Plata from the stern of the ship.
Here the ship is just out in the Rio de la Plata with the dock where we were to the centre right.
Departure 5
Departure 6
Just after sun set. The lighted area is where the port is the rest is the city, mostly dark because it is a Sunday night. I believe the tugboat is there to pick up the harbour pilot off our ship. Further out. The dark area in the centre is an ecological reserve with most of the city behind it hidden from this angle. The brightest of the two dots in the upper right is a airplane from a nearby airport. The other is a star.
Departure 7

The furthest out picture that you can make anything out in, at least at this size anyway. The ship on the right was a car ferry coming in from Montevideo. We had seen one of the high speed ferries earlier but I have not included that picture here.

The white speck in the upper centre of the picture is a planet or star and not a defect in the picture. (Same one as the darker dot in the right picture above.)

Moon over Rio de la Plata

The moon over the Rio de la Plata
on our way to Montevideo.

Tomorrow, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Started Creation: February 28, 2009 at home.
Completed Creation: March 1, 2009 at home.

Last updated: March 4, 2009 8:19 PM