San Martin Square (Kenneth Nelson)
The next morning when we enter, sleepy-eyed, into the breakfast room of the Reino del Plata, we encounter what will soon become a pattern: Bert, breakfast finished, smiling, and adventure-ready! After our own good breakfast and much needed coffee, we meet two of our other Adventure Life Tour members, Amanda and Jennine. At 8:30 am our guide, Pablo, arrives with a van to take us on our Adventure Life City Tour of Buenos Aires. Pablo is a wealth of local knowledge and first takes us to the awe inspiring stainless steel flower ("Floralis Generica") in the municipal park, next to the law school ("Facultad de Derechio"). The huge petals of this statue open automatically every morning and close every evening. From here we drive through the Palermo District, where we see the large and architecturally impressive embassy buildings, and then to the famous Recoleta Cemetery. We walk among the old mausoleums as Pablo explains the burial customs and some of the politics of BA along with a brief story of former President Juan Peron and his wife Eva. Eva, or "Evita", was a very controversial person: she was loved by many of the poor and hated by many of the wealthy at the time of her death in 1952. Her body was secretly removed and buried in Italy under a false name until years later when she was finally brought back and interred in Recoleta. Pablo also discussed the brief history of the "Disappeared", from 1976-1983 when the Military Junta ruled, and of events leading to the Falklands War with England in 1983, when the Junta was displaced from power. (We had earlier viewed the tall "English Tower" given to BA as a gift from England. After the Falklands War it was renamed the "Monumental Tower", however, for obvious reasons!) Driving on to the La Boca District with its colorfully painted corrugated tin houses, we learn that it is here that the original Italian and German immigrants settled. Today, the streets are alive with musicians, street entertainers, and tango dancers in a very festive atmosphere. The city's earliest shipping took place in La Boca's port in the mid 1800's, until the harbor became too shallow for the increasing size of ships. The surrounding area has many poor and homeless people; while safe during the day, it is not recommended for walking at night. Then we travel back to the Plaza de Mayo where Pablo shows us where the mothers' of the "disappeared" children still march every Thursday afternoon in silent protest to the government. At tour's end he points us in the direction of the San Telmo district, and we wander along its open air "flea market" for the rest of the afternoon. Kathy and Bert see many interesting things, but they are not ready to buy yet. That will come later. By now pretty tired, off we go for refreshments at Cafe Tortoni, which has been in service for over 150 years. Back at the hotel, a quick late afternoon siesta leaves us ready for Pablo's pick-up at 8:30 pm, and we're on our way to the famous Esquina Carlos Gardel Restaurant for a steak dinner and Tango show. A film during dinner depicts the history of the Tango, and is followed by a live Tango show. We are home by midnight for another good night's sleep.
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