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Touring the dead centre of BA

Figurenes on the balcony at La Boca

The 16-hour time difference has knocked us both around a little. At 2 am this morning , the chat was in top gear at the Kenton Palace in our boudoir. I don’t know if it was the Mojitos from last night or the heat that had my mind racing but whatever it was I hope it buggers off tonight and we can get some sleep . We had a city tour organised to do with a private tour guide this morning and after finally nodding off, it was a mad panic to get downstairs to make the breakfast sitting before the 8.30 am pick up. That’s the problem when you have something organised – you don’t get to muck about and have a rare lie in like I felt I could have done with this morning.

My travelling companion was up and down like a fart trying to escape a bake bean tin all night and I felt terrible tapping her on the shoulder to make the pick up time, knowing she had probably only nodded off.

The city tour was great to get your bearings and heading down the area near the dock known as La Boca was a delightful start to the morning. The brightly coloured shabby buildings reflected an area that was once very poor and inhabited by immigrants who worked at the docks. The area has capitalised on a growing tourist industry and people flock to see the brightly coloured buildings and caricatures of famous soccer players, artists and national heroes leaning over wrought iron balconies and on street corners. Market stalls were setting up in the area but they don’t crank up here until after 10 it seems, so we were a tad early. Never to early for the dead though – as next stop was the flash area of Recoleta where we had planned to visit the Mayo Square and Cementerio de la Recoleta – a cemetery rich in architecture and full of important social and political personalities.

Once we were inside the cemetery gates, the small cobbled ‘streets’ were lined with old crypts and tomb’s that had been crafted from marble, granite and concrete. Some where in remarkable condition featuring stained glass entrances, brass plaques and adorned by religious items. Many lovingly tended to by family I expect, while others lay in various states of decay. There was the odd cleaner giving one a dust up, both inside and out we noticed as we toured the place on our own. Coffins were sometimes visible through the glass windows, stacked 3 & 4 high behind the padlocked doors and one can only wonder what might be in there if you finally managed to get the top off one that has been percolating on a shelf for a few hundred years. I did overhear a tour guide telling her charges that inside the wooden coffins on display were sealed stainless coffins that housed the bodies. We didn’t really have any trouble navigating the city of death and even managed to find the tomb that encases the body of Eva Peron – she was the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and First Lady of Argentina from 1946 and popular among the people of the time before her untimely death at the age of 33. Eva or Evita as many called her, used her position as the first lady of Argentina to fight for women's suffrage and improving the lives of the poor. There were fresh lilies on the door of her resting place this morning and she remains a popular figure today. There are monuments of her all over the city, caricatures leaning from balconies, her face is immortalized in lights on the edge of high buildings and on murals about the city. People flock to the pink Presidential house to stare at that famous balcony where she stood addressing “her people” back in the day.

María Eva Duarte de Perón (7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952)

I’m a tight arse, used to backpacking and not that keen on spending money on taxis – especially when I have no sense of direction. I suggested to Penny that we take the Sube’ back to our hotel which was met with a look of disdain. She doesn’t seem to like anything enclosed or underground so obviously a train system underground was never going to be her first choice.

Trying to purchase the card was hilarious – no speake English was at the ticket booth but as a woman on a mission I managed to purchase a card for the train, and have it loaded with about $4NZD that should have been enough to take us back to the city centre. The bloody thing wouldn’t work initially and then when I got through, she who was practically attached to my shoulder nearly knocked herself out on the automatic gates as she tried to come immediately behind me. They are smart those electronic gates and once she recovered and I handed the card over for her to use separately, the passage through the stile was much more dignified.

I had it sussed about changing from the yellow train line to the green line part way through the journey to get back to the central city, but have been known to stand on the wrong side of the platform for pickup before and was determined not to have my master plan foiled.

Enter Ignasios – a cheery looking law student returning from his studies at the local law school. He learnt some English a year ago in anticipation of a trip to NZ next February with his university rugby team where they will be playing a few games against the kiwis on their two week visit. He was a life saver, who escorted two old tarts melting in the heat to the correct place on the platform using his rusty English.

What a legend, he left with our contact details and the promise of bringing his team to see us back in Godzone next year.

Tickled pink we both were when he reached over and kissed us both gently on the cheek to say goodbye. What can I say, yep we still have it!!!

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