Mike and I are sitting in a small café having our morning coffee. Mike is catching up on emails and I’m starting our next blog post. It is so much easier to motivate myself to write while out of the apartment. The café is playing 90’s American music and I’ve been having a series of high school flashbacks (Sublime is on right now), which is a perfect opener for my post. Close your eyes and think back to the top hits of 1997 – do you hear the classic lyrics of MMMBop or Wannabe? What about another 1997 Billboard Top 100…Don’t Cry for Me Argentina?
The woman behind that song is the inspiration for this blog and no, I don’t mean Madonna.
Eva Peron (aka Evita) is a legendary figure in Argentina. She was the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She was extremely popular with the working class and was a strong champion of women's rights (including the right to vote). Last week we visited a great museum in Buenos Aires devoted to her life. The Evita Museum does a great job telling her story (some parts were in English luckily!) and displays a interesting assortment of her belongings and memorabilia.
While sightseeing around Buenos Aires, Mike and I visited two sites that are famous in part because of Evita:
This famous pink building serves as the Presidential Offices in Buenos Aires and is supposedly the most photographed building in Argentina. Legend has it that the strange pink color is the result of using cows’ blood as paint. Evita famously waved to the adoring masses from the balcony on the left side of the building. More recently Madonna was granted access to do this for the filming of Evita. This upset many of the locals who thought it was a dishonor to the real Evita.
Recoleta Cemetery has some of the most desired, and difficult to purchase, real estate in Buenos Aires. It houses the grave of Evita, along with many other significant Argentine historical figures. The cemetery is absolutely beautiful and doesn’t look anything like a typical American cemetery. The cemetery is packed full of mausoleums decorated with beautiful sculptures. Many of which contain chapels. There are a variety of architectural styles so while a little creepy, it was very interesting to walk around and peek into the different chambers. The entire space is laid out in sections like city blocks and the mausoleums are nestled very close together. According to our guide, each site is owned by a family and can typically house up to 18 people.
|On left, walkway after walkway were non-stop mausoleums. On right, the city surrounds the cemetery so you can see buildings in the background.|
|On left, cats in the cemetery playing from the stoops of the mausoleums. On right, steps down into a crypt showing the many coffins housed within one family's plot.|
Sometimes if a family has used up all the spots, they will cremate the remains of one of the older relatives to make room for a more recently deceased loved one. Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it? The cemetery is completely full so if you want to be buried there, you better be willing to shell out some big bucks to buy a site from an existing family (they would then have to move all their deceased to a different cemetery).
|On left, grave site of woman buried alive at Recoleta (her coffin supposedly has scratch marks on the lid). On right, marker at Evita's final resting place|