The rains continued.
I have never experienced weather like this in a country that does not have a monsoon season. For three straight days, fat, insatiable, gluttonous droplets were spat out of the oppressive sky. And Buenos Aires wasn’t just wet it was also cold. Ollie and I spent a day attempting to explore Puerto Madero, the business district, but we struggled to find the art gallery that we were looking for let alone keep our eyes open against the onslaught of rain and had no choice but to eat at McDonalds as all the other restaurants were too expensive. I must admit though, I do love a good Maccy D so I wasn’t complaining too much. We finally managed to find the Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat gallery, which was stunning. But our day was further dampened back at the hostel when I managed to melt my flip-flops whilst warming my feet next to the electric heater.
After our failed day, the next morning we were up early, sporting some terrible bites on our faces. We arrived in Recoleta, ready to see the famous Recoleta Cemetery, which we were told is a must-see. I tell myself that I am not superstitious but I’m still uncomfortable around graveyards so I wasn’t too keen on our visit. Additionally, Ollie and I were sceptical about how interesting a cemetery could be anyway.
We discovered that it was an intriguing and eerily beautiful place. It turns out, if you are rich and Catholic, you can afford to be ostentatious in death. We took in the hushed atmosphere, the grandiose marble-walled alleys and the mourning angel statues. Numerous cats lurked in and out of the tombs like shadows. The most expensive graves were spotless, polished and clearly looked after well. There were also smaller, ignored tombs at the edges of the compound next to the fencing separating the cemetery from the city. These vaults were dilapidated and full of withered leaves that hadn’t been raked away. It seems that there is even a discrepancy between the rich and the filthy rich. Supposedly, one can purchase a vault in this famed burial ground for approximately US $150,000.
The tomb of Evita Perón, the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952, is also in Recoleta Cemetery. We searched for a long time to find her tomb, it is in an unexpectedly unexceptional location within the cemetery and relatively modest in comparison to some of the other graves. We only managed to discover it due to the small crowd of tourists standing around it. Evita was widely loved in Argentina and known as the ‘Spiritual Leader of the Nation’. She fought for women’s suffrage and for the poor and was given a state funeral, something usually saved for heads of state, showing just how important she was to the Argentine people.
After the cemetery, one of the highlights of the day was coming across our first West Highland Terrier of the trip – we were so overexcited that the owner of the dog was laughing at us. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I have a Westie at home that I talk about all the time. We also wandered through the leafy parks of Palermo where we were impressed (and made to feel slightly guilty) by the number of people exercising on the green.
I have mentioned before that online information in Buenos Aires was difficult to find and, if there was any, it was often inaccurate. Dodgy wifi connections didn’t help either. On our final night in Buenos Aires, the clouds finally cleared up and the rains ended! I planned for us to go salsa dancing in a local club as, according to my online source, Wednesdays are the best night for salsa. To my disappointment (and Ollie’s delight) we arrived at the club to find that it was most definitely closed. Apparently, according to the doorman in the hotel opposite, the club is open every day expect Wednesdays…
Nevertheless, we ended up finishing our few days in Buenos Aires in true Argentine fashion: bar hopping, eating steak and drinking lots of red wine.