25.05.2008 16 °C
Having complained in true British fashion about the heat and sweatiness of the Buenos Aires autumn, the city of good winds has avenged my rudeness with a cold snap that feels more like late autumn in Leeds, (although I now feel even more justified in complaining!) It's all jumpers, coats and cold noses now, although therefore more of an excuse to sit in a cafe with a book and a hot chocolate or one of Buenos Aires' extremely strong coffees. Since I last wrote, there have been lots of days mooching around at the hostal reading various papers online and searching for more organisations to approach for help with the project - I recently tried the world/pan-american health organisation in Bs As, with no success, and government defensoria del pueblo - an equivalent of legal aid, but who also campaign for the rights of inhabitants of the villas de emergencia, Buenos Aires' slums, also with no success. Oh well, plenty more organisations to talk to!
The day I tried those two places, I also finally made it to the little part north of plaza de mayo, around the plaza de general san martin, where there is a memorial to the soldiers killed in the Falkland/Malvinas conflict. 655 Argentine soldiers were killed, in what was a last ditch effort at keeping power by the dictators of the military junta, and a leapt at jingoistic opportunity by our own Iron Lady, which for her rescued the up-coming election (before the war she had been pitched to lose). Neither side attempted to resolve the crisis in any meaningful way when the Junta Generals landed in the Falklands, and in the short war following 255 British were killed as well as those on the Argentine side, never mind those injured. A rather sad and silly exercise in all, most of all since many people lost their lives so that Maggie and the Junta could hold on to power. The other thing that I realised, however, was that as yet I've not seen an official monument to comemorate the 30,000 or so disappeared activists who were kidnapped and inevitably murdered by the Junta...
The next day, I headed to Recoleta to the famous cemetary. These things, that one must do as a tourist, feel somewhat strange to do, but there we are! The recoleta cemetary, as it turns out, is a thing to be beheld, like a city of the dead within the city. each family's tomb is like a small house (larger no doubt than those for living families 2km away in Villa 31), often made from materials imported from France or Italy, and with elaborate Angels, satues, pictures and other adornments. The star performer in this strange collection of, well, death, is the tomb of Eva Peron, which is decorated with plaques from various unions and syndicates, who are no doubt responsible for changing the flowers tacked to the door. An interesting side fact is that Juan Peron never told Evita why she was dying (cervical cancer), something I'm sure our ethics classes would be outraged at. But strange that a woman with so much power, and so much responsibility, wasn't told her own diagnosis..
I then checked ou the Museo de las Bellas Artes, and the Museo de Artes Latinoamericanos en Bs As (MALBA), both of which were excellent, and had really quite impressive collections.
Last night found me in Avenida de Mayo watching the live tango. Like last week, they had closed the street to traffic and had stages set up, this time with a tango orchestra outside the casa de la cultura, who were fantastic, and inspired passing argentinos to pair up and dance tango (because, y'know, everyone knows how of course). It was quite the atmosphere...
We headed to the next stage after that, where a band played a wonderful version of Libertango (a favourite of mine) amongst many other things.
Finally, we all walked back to plaza de mayo to welcome independence day - a process which involved waiting outside the Cabildo until midnight, when a military band stood on the balcony and played the national anthem (as ever, better than the jaw-droppingly dreary British one!) and the crowd sang along.
Anyway, best dash, but will write more soon! Thank you everyone who has sent me e-mails and comments, keep em coming, I love hearing from you guys! Much love to all..