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La Recoleta Cemetery

May 10th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (0 Comments)

Our first touristy site was La Recoleta, a famous cemetery located in the exclusive Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.  Graves of some of the most influential and important Argentinian, including several presidents, scientists and wealthy characters reside here.  I expect the grave of María Eva Duarte de Perón, better known as Eva Perón or internationally as Evita, is the most famous.  Most people will remember the movie Evita in which Madonna played Eva Perón. Her Wiki biography is really worth a read, she was quite aninspirational character.

The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, in a wide variety of architectural styles. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums – it is gigantic!

Each grave bears the family name etched into the facade; brass or bronze plaques are added to the front for particular family members. It is one of those cemeteries where the tradition of engraving a death date but no birth date has been maintained.

While many are in fine shape and well-maintained, others have fallen into a state of disrepair.  Several can be found with broken glass which allowed us to take photos of the inside.  Strange to see how they stack the coffins.  The underground chamber seems to go down some distance and could possibly hold up to 30–40 coffins.

Evita’s grave is the one decorated with flowers.

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Beautiful Buenos Aires

May 10th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (0 Comments)

We arrived in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires a week or so ago (yes we are trying to catch up) and spent the majority of our time chilling with our roomies in a great hostel.  There are so many activities and sites to see you could be here for a month and still only cover a small fraction. 

They say that the city can get under your skin – in a good way – and it certainly did for us, well and truly.  Although we did spend the majority of our time in the hostel, we did venture out and about and take the odd snap which we’ve included.  It’s difficult, you want to take photos at every turn, but cannot take your camera out for fear of it being snatched.

These are just some random pics.

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Rosario

May 7th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (1 Comments)

I’m getting a little bored of writing about these damn cities, the usual shit – great bars, restaurants and colonial architecture, bla, bla, bla – so on this occasion I’ll just write about something that really interests me, yes it’s back to the great Che Guevara, the son of Rosario.  I have also included the photos of Rosario below.

On the outskirts of Rosario there stands a four metres four tonne tall bronze replica of ‘el Che’ – depicted in his combat fatigues and characteristic beret.  The story behind the stature I think is so interesting.

Thousands of people donated some 75,000 pieces of bronze to Andrés Zerneri, the Argentinean sculptor. Old candlesticks, padlocks, decorative objects and even relics were sent from all over the world – particularly bronze keys of houses abandoned by Argentineans who fled the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina in the ’70s.

While in the course of time their lives have returned to normal, the keys remained an important token of the past. The monument of Che provided them with the right opportunity to give the key a new place: it was melted and became part of the ‘new’ Che. Che Guevara’s statue is filled with memories of its donors and thus became truly a people’s statue.

I don’t quite understand the government’s stance on the legendary figure, I get the feeling they regard him as a deserter and not this great revolutionary.  For years the nation cried out for a monument and eventually they buckled under the pressure.  But when finished it was erected 1.5hrs walk outside the city centre in a run down park amongst the litter and graffiti.  A complete travesty and disrespectful in my opinion.  One would wonder why it wasn’t it erected in the park of independence in the city centre.

Would you believe it – I swapped a book for Motorcycle Diaries but somehow (in a rush no doubt) left it behind at one of our hostels.  Absolutely gutted.  Getting hold of such a good book in English is rather difficult here!  

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Plaza San Martin

May 6th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (3 Comments)

Just to follow up on some previous posts on Cordoba, Argentina’s second largest city, which we spent a fair few hours touring and really enjoyed, most notably Plaza San Martin.  A metropolis full of students and home to South America’s oldest university which gives the place a great vibe.  Great bars, restaurants and colonial architecture made for an interesting visit.

San Martin was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America’s successful struggle for independence from Spain.  There is reference to his great achievements at almost ever turn, not just in cordoba but throughout Argentina, Chile and I’m sure the rest of SA.

The lovely lady in the last picture is drinking a Mate, the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, but I’m sure common in the rest of SA.  Basically, it’s an infusion based on an herb called Yerba Mate – just tea really.  It’s unreal to see the sheer number of people carrying their thermal flasks’, there are three in this picture alone.  We tried but just couldn’t take to it, gives you a real caffeine hit.  Sorry folks, no alcohol in it!

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Inspirational ‘Che’

May 2nd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (1 Comments)

A trip to Argentina would not have been complete without a visit to Museo del Che Guevara (the Che Guevara Museum) at Alta Gracia.  I’ve always been fascinated by leaders and revolutionaries; their ideals, characteristics and the drive it takes to fight for a cause. 

Yeah he killed people, in battle and execution, but no where near the thousands claimed.  He saw how capitalism raped the indigenous people of Latin America and took a stand against it.  If we had more people like Che today we would never have been subjected to the Bush Administration, who’s foreign policy killed 100’s of people a day in Iraq.  In my opinion he is there with the best of them: Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. 

The museum gave a thorough account of his life. Pictures, letters and explanatory panels telling the story of his childhood, his youth, the revolution and his role in international affairs.  Books, gifts, his old bicycle and motorbike (famous after the book and movie ‘Motorcycle Diaries) which I got to sit on are on display.  There were also many pictures of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro’s visiting in 2006.

A quick overview of his life from a combination of sources:

The South American revolutionary idol Ernesto Che Guevara was born in Rosario in 1928, but moved to Alta Gracia as a child after doctors diagnosed him with asthma.  Guevara lived here from 1935-1937 and 1939-1943.

The story of this obscure Argentine doctor who abandoned his profession and his native land to pursue the emancipation of the poor of the earth began with a voyage.  In 1956, along with Fidel Castro and a handful of others, he had crossed the Caribbean in the rickety yacht Granma on the mad mission of invading Cuba and overthrowing the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Landing in a hostile swamp, losing most of their contingent, the survivors fought their way to the Sierra Maestra. A bit over two years later, after a guerrilla campaign in which Guevara displayed such outrageous bravery and skill that he was named comandante, the insurgents entered Havana and launched what was to become the first and only victorious socialist revolution in the Americas.

The images were thereafter invariably gigantic. Che the titan standing up to the Yanquis, the world’s dominant power. Che the moral guru proclaiming that a New Man, no ego and all ferocious love for the other, had to be forcibly created out of the ruins of the old one. Che the romantic mysteriously leaving the revolution to continue, sick though he might be with asthma, the struggle against oppression and tyranny.

By the time Che Guevara was murdered in the jungles of Bolivia in October 1967, he was already a legend, not only in Latin America but around the world.

Inspirational.  Where do I sign up…

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