Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Buenos Aires

I am loving Buenos Aires. It is clean, attractive, good food, good wine, stylish and there is a lot to do.

Our Airbnb apartment is comfortable, centrally located and bright. We are in the heart of the Palermo Soho district.

We slept in and didn't get going until 10:30am. The streets were quiet for a Monday and many places were closed. We later learned that today is a holiday. We walked around  the neighbourhood and then went to the beautiful botanical gardens.There was a flock of small parrots bathing in a fountain. Lots of people were on benches in the shade reading books, I only saw one on his phone.

In the afternoon John and I had whoopies! Not that kind of whoopie  ... but a leisurely lunch at the cafe our host recommended across the street from our apartment called Whoopies. I had an amazing vegetable and seafood salad.

We then picked up wine and snacks, dropped them off at the apartment and grabbed an Uber to the meeting point for the free City Centre Walking Tour with www.buenosairesfreewalks.com.

It had clouded over when we started our walking tour threatening thunderstorms. Our guide also said he wasn't sure if we could complete the tour due to a very large protest going on at Plaza de Mayo.

As usual the walking tour was really well done.
There seemed to be a Dante theme. First we saw one of the three statues cast in the original mould of "The Thinker" by Rodin. It is also the only one in South America. This Thinker represents philosophy and the original concept first came about in his work "The Gates of Hell" from "The Divine Comedy".

The next block over was a building made to represent all the chapters of Dante's famous work.

We saw a portrait of Eva Peron (Evita) done on the side of a skyscraper and then we were in the middle of another massive protest. This demonstration of thousands was about all the issues in Bolivia regarding the recent replacement of their problematic president. Unlike Chile,  the police did not interfere other than directing traffic, there was no tear gas and the protest was peaceful but loud. So far we have involuntarily  been in the midst of protests in all four South American countries we have visited.

Our guide explained the ongoing economic problems in Argentina and the increase in poverty caused by high inflation and the continuing devaluation of the Argentinian peso.

The area where the protest was going on was also where every Thursday the Mothers of the Disappeared protest. They wear white scarves to represent the diapers of their adult children who were taken by the military dictatorship in the late 70s/early 80s and most likely tortured and murdered because of their opposition to the  dictatorship.

There is also a group of Grandmothers of the Disappeared. Pregnant women arrested by the military would be jailed until they gave birth then killed and their babies given to military and police families or other members of the dictatorship who wanted a child. With the help from other countries and organizations, there is now a DNA registry from the grandmothers and families of these disappeared pregnant women and children born during the dictatorship who are unsure of their parentage can submit their DNA for comparison.

By the end of the tour, my ankle and leg had swollen up. We tried to get an Uber but they weren't driving within the protest area so we took the subway called the SUBTE. Performers would come onto the subway cars and the Argentinians would clap and give them money. A guy even showed up with a large piano keyboard complete with stand and chair and sat down and played classical music.

After resting up at the apartment, we looked at the list of our hosts favourite restaurants and first went to an Argentinian steak place but it was closed due to today's holiday so we went to a pasta place she recommended called Lucio.  I wasn't sure what I was ordering due to the Spanish menu but it was a ricotta ravioli in a cheesy mushroom sauce. It was divine. So far I am loving our hosts food recommendations.

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