Bueno! Buenos Aires!

On a corner of the Plaza de Mayo is the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, where, until recently, a guy named Jorge Bergoglio served as Archbishop, then Cardinal. Then, surprise, surprise! He became Pope Francis!

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So, our bus pulls up in front and in we go!

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Naturally, we show up in the middle of a service.

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Of course, it was all in Spanish, so we had no idea what was going on. It seemed to involve these ladies. I was just glad I wasn’t wearing my usual shorts and ball cap.

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The cathedral has its typical 14 stations, each of which is a work of art.

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Unique to this cathedral, and what sets it apart from all the others in the world, is this:

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This is a tribute to all the victims of the holocaust as well as the more recent victims of the attack on the Israel Embassy and the AMIA bombing. This case contains prayer books and other artifacts rescued from Auschwitz and Treblinka.

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The AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building in Buenos Aires was bombed in 1994 and 85 people were killed. Somehow, the government just couldn’t quite figure out who might have done such a thing. You may have noticed, then, the recent headlines regarding a prosecuting attorney who just happened to turn up dead in his Argentine apartment, victim of a tragic suicide. Except, hold on now. It seems that he was just about to testify that he had found a link to the AMIA bombing, and a cover-up of the involvement of Iranian perpetrators, by the current president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner. Indeed, he had gone so far as to draft a warrant for her arrest!. Who wouldn’t blow their brains out when you’re under such stress? The day after we left Argentina another of those famous mass demonstrations was held demanding the truth. Good luck!

To get back to the cathedral, here is the only evidence we found that the first non-European Pope had come from here:

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OK Time to leave the Plaza de Mayo. Let’s take a look around town. Keep in mind, however, that this is a bus tour with limited photo ops and only lasts 4 hours, of which we have already used up plenty. I will say, though, that this was, by far, the best of the tours Travel With Alan put together. Off we go!

Just to give you my impression, Buenos Aires is as exciting and interesting as I expected it to be. It is a city worth a very long airplane ride to experience. And, we just got a small sampling. Here is a message, though, that I have for President Kirchner if she manages to stay out of hot water: Drop the reciprocity fee! Right now it costs $160 USD’s per person, just to come to Argentina. True, that fee is good for 10 years, but I’m sure I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I might be in Argentina in the next 10 years. By the way, this fee only applies to the US citizens. Canadians and Australians have to pay too, but their fee is less. Chile dropped their fee some time ago. Argentina should do the same. I would have organized a march about this at the Plaza de Mayo, but NanSea said I didn’t have enough time.

Parts of Buenos Aires are reminiscent of Paris.

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Some parts are shiny and new, with a lot of construction going on.

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So, we had a very delightful tour of the city. Then the bus pulls up here:

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Caminito is in the heart of the barrio called La Boca. And quite a place it is:

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Oh my! Do you want to dance the tango? No problemo:

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Actually the dancing goes on here throughout the day. You can join in if you like. We probably would have liked that and much more, but in our allotted 30 minutes we couldn’t even order a beverage. So, we shopped:

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Dianne bought a purse. I got a colorful magnet for the fridge. We would have loved to spend more time here. But, just to be on the safe side, instead we went back to our pick-up point and hung with NanSea.

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Caminito is only a few blocks long, then it becomes poorer.

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Our tour guide later told us that around sundown all the restaurants and shops close and the sidewalks are rolled up. It is very safe during the day, but we better not have our gringo fannies down here after dark. Well, OK then! Next!

Well, what was next was even worse. But let me add, when I get a tour I don’t just want the good news. I want to see what is really going on. This tour delivered:

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So, you might say, this is interesting, the poor have brick homes. Well, I wouldn’t go asking for a bill of sale from some brick yard. Instead I might go looking for a report of items missing from the local ship yard.

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Then, there is this:

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Juan Peron was forced into exile in the early fifties. When this happened factions from labor groups and various left-wing organizations began to organize and arm themselves. The ruling junta hunted them down and killed many of them. There never was much stability. Then, in the late seventies Peronists won election and Juan eventually returned and was himself re-elected. He only lived a year, however, His then-wife and vice-president, Isabella took over. She created the first of what would be many death squads targeting the extreme left wing. But, as so often happens, It wasn’t long until Isabella was ousted by yet another military coup. And so, around 1978 began what in now known as the Dirty War. From then until 1982 the ruling junta began targeting not only the left wing, but anyone perceived as sympathizing with the left wing, including labor leaders and students. Their victims became known as “The Disappeared” How many disappeared? Nobody knows. Few who have provided estimates put the numbers below five figures.

One day, on their way to work, passersby were horrified to find bodies stacked like cord wood under this overpass. Each white sign represents the name of a victim. In time, the mothers of The Disappeared began to organize and, putting their own safety aside, they began to demonstrate on the Plaza de Mayo by banging pots and pans in front of the Casa Rosada. The junta, already losing favor with the public. dismissed them as crazy at first. But the public did not.

In order to distract their detractors, they turned to that time-honored favorite among failing governments. They started a war! Where? The Falkland Islands! What finally removed them from power? They lost the war! So now, history fans, we have come full circle. The tour’s over.

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The afternoon following the tour Dianne and I began the much-dreaded task of packing our bags.This would be our last night in South America.  Because we were scheduled to attend a Tango show that night with our TWA group, we were allowed to delay putting our bags out till after midnight. A true blessing.

At 8:00pm our bus pulled up in front of Esquina Carlos Gardel, one of the more popular tango clubs in Buenos Aires. (Alan got us a fantastic deal for this dinner and show!) We had made plans to sit with Ron and Mary Shafer, our best friends from the cruise, but unfortunately by the time we got in there were no longer four seats available. So they spit us up and put Dianne and me with a group of Canadians.

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While the seats were empty when we got there, by the time the show started they were full. And, this was a Tuesday night! We were served very nice dinners. Then the wine began to flow. It never stopped! Good one, Alan!

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Then, it was time for the show!

The tango, they say, is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Properly done, they say, it is slow and tragic; a love that cannot be. Well, this show had it all!

Here is a very small sample:

OK people! Shut off those computers, get out there and dance!

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