Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rocket to the crypt

Walking through Bs. As. is tough enough what with the cars, taxis, buses and pedestrians all claiming right of way at all times. Plus you are always on the lookout for rogue dog-deposits and missing sidewalk tiles while trying to catch a glance at that gargoyle above you. Navigating isn't always easy on foot, so why not take our lives in our hands and get on the street itself to join the foray. Renting a couple of bright orange cruisers to ride one of the busiest streets was exciting in an oh-geez-i-might-die kind of way - somewhat fitting since we were heading to the Cementerio de La Recoleta. The buses spew filthy exhaust making it dark ahead, motos pass within inches while hubcaps whizz off cars and towards Sandra's bike - all this while circumnavigating a huge roundabout and trying to make it all the way before the light changes and it's a full on charge of headlights towards you. Whew! Quite a change from the relaxed rides to bodegas we were used to.

We made it to La Cementerio in one piece, dying of heat and sucking back pomello juice like crazy. This place is one of the largest above-ground cemetaries in the world and the final resting place for many of Argentina's leaders, hereoes, religious figures and of course, the centerpiece for the tourists - Eva 'Evita' Peron's gravesite. Everything in this massive maze is over the top ornate - some of the mausoleums are well over three stories tall and decked out like miniature cathedrals with huge sculptures, crosses and weeping angels.

It's rather sobering to walk through the pathways and notice that behind the broken glass on that particular window are shelves of coffins, and downstairs in the crypt are 16 more. You can reach out and touch the brass handles and curved tops, weathered and dusty from years of sitting. Cats wander amongst the tombs, caretakers mop and sweep the steps and fresh flowers greet visitors to family plots.

The cemetary was started in 1820 as a 'regular' graveyard but became the elite resting place it is now in 1881. Since then it has become somewhat of an open-air museum of glorious artwork, carvings and architecture in the most devoted of styles. We could have spent many more hours here walking and taking photos, contemplating, but had to return our bikes by the end of the day so into the sun and back to the black top. If we didn't make it we told each other - nothing too fancy, ok?

1 comment:

Tiago said...

What a great journey! I did something similar many years ago, I landed first in a buenos aires apartment and I ended up in Usuhaia. I loved Argentina, specially the landscapes! This country has amazing views. Buenos Aires city is very nice too, but is just another big city, with more than 12 million people.