Thursday, February 12, 2004

Buenos Aires, Argentina--Day 13

Today started off with a nice walk down to the Plaza del Mayo in the Microcentro area of Buenos Aires. I found a nice place to eat breakfast and then walked over to the Casa Rosa (like the white house only pink!) which is the presidential palace of Argentina. The Plaza is very beautiful however I found most of the statues blazoned with graffiti, which is unfortunate. From here I decided to take a bus over to the area of Buenos Aires called La Boca, which is an area with very colorful houses and shops and where the tango thrives (at least for the tourists!). I hopped on what I thought was the right bus heading towards La Boca. Only after a short while did I realize that I was on the wrong bus. La Boca is very near the Plaza del Mayo (but too far to walk) and after 20 minutes on the bus, I realized that I had hopped on the right bus all right, but going in the wrong direction. I decided that it didn’t really matter and enjoyed the rest of my bus ride to the other end of Buenos Aires, opposite of where I was supposed to be. The bus passed several places that I was at yesterday and if I would only have taken the bus before I would have not have walked so far yesterday. It was really nice to ride the bus but I think that the driver was wondering what I was doing since I never go off.

We ended up at the bus station in Belgrano and after a few disorientating moments, I was able to locate where I was on my map and figured out how to catch the #64 bus back to the Plaza del Mayo and then onto La Boca. All in all, this took about an hour and a half to do the entire route back and forth and I finally ended up in La Boca around one o’clock.

La Boca was a neat little area and I browsed a few street market shops and ate lunch at a cafĂ© just to the outside of all of the touristy streets. I found La Boca to be extremely touristy with the whole area comprising of tourist shops and restaurants. The most important part of La Boca, however, is the tango. I was able to find some postcards with tango dancers on them, but since it was not the weekend, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to see any live tango. So I succumbed to paying to see a lunch tango show at a local restaurant (basically tango dancers tango while you eat!). Even though I had already eaten, I decided to get some fruit and actually found the tango show really enjoyable (despite it being, again, very touristy). After watching a few dances I headed back into the street where I found a few couples who were dancing the tango for tips. These dancers seemed more elegant than the showy ones in the restaurant. I watched them for a while and then hopped on a bus back to the Plaza.

Back at the Plaza I was just in time to witness the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo march around the plaza. They do this every Thursday at 3:30 pm to “campaign for a full account of Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ of 1976-83“ (as stated by my Lonely Planet guidebook). It was all very moving to see this happen, but again the amount of tourists was overbearing for me. It was almost like a media frenzy with photographers everywhere trying to get good shots of the women marching. I decided to sit on the grass on the side and watch it all happen instead of joining all the other American tourists (although I did take a couple of pictures). Anyways, this went on for about a half and hour and when it was done I hopped onto the Subway back to a shopping area of Buenos Aires to pick up a few things and then went back to the hotel.

At the hotel I went for a swim and got ready to go eat dinner. I went downstairs into the lobby and not only were there a lot of people around, but when I tried to go out the doors I was ushered over to a side door. I looked out and saw a HUGE bus with the main doors blocked off by barriers just outside of them, creating a walkway (with a red carpet btw) from the bus to the hotel door (if I went out these doors I would have had to get on the bus!). There were police around lots of fans waiting and so I think that there is some sort of celebrity or something staying at my hotel! I decided not to try to figure it out because I was really hungry and so I walked back to the Plaza del Mayo area and walked around for a bit into an area that I had missed earlier today and then ate dinner at one of the few restaurants that I had passed.

I made it back to the hotel (only after getting slightly lost for a bit) and now am packing up my things for my departure for Madrid tomorrow.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.