An 18 hour bus ride, that actually wasn't too painful sipping on wine and whisky, took us into our FINAL DESTINATION!!! - Buenos Aires. We found our way through the subway, with drunkards yelling crap at us from opposite seats, and arrrived at our hostel. We were welcomed by a young local guy who looked like he had better things to do and wanted to show the world how cool he was by his lazy and unhelpful demeanor. He made us wait an hour an a half for our room and pushed our buttons that were already being pushed with mixed emotioons from going home.
Checked-in, we went off in search of an Antique Markets that we were told were worth a look. It was a closed off street that stretched for a few kilometres. They were selling all sorts of random items like clothing, gimmicky souveniers, toys, household things and ofcourse, antiques. It was a whole bunch of crap to be honest but it was worth strolling along amongst a few thousand people, checking out the cobblestoned streets and listening to the street performers playing music adding to the feel of it all. We hit a wall close to the end of the markets as we were tired from the long bus trip and so we called it a night.
The following day we decided to learn a bit about Buenos Aires' history and culture and found a free walking tour. We started by the Congress building and learnt of crooked politicians and were shown the beautiful architecture that comes from Colonial Spanish and Italians giving the city a European look. An interesting and sad story we heard was when some bad b*****s took over the congress between 1977-83, 30,000 people mysteriously went missing. They were supposedly taken into military prisons and tortured and killed. Any pregnant women who had their babies in these prisons had their babies taken from them before they were killed themselves. The babies were then either adopted out or raised by the murderers that killed their parents and in some cases 35 years into these babies (now adults) lives, they learned that their adopted parents were murderers and that they had killed their real parents. They only found out as their is a group of women who are still searching for family members who disappeared back then and are urging people who either know or think they may have been adopted during that time to come forward for blood tests. It was really interesting to hear this history.
We moved along and came to a pink palace where the famous, Evita, gave inspiring speeches from her balcony and from where Madonna sang, 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina'. It was an ugly building that looked more the colour of salmon. We also learned that there are 20-30 protests or rallies per WEEK down the same street that leads to the Congress building. That means 3-4 per day! And as luck would have it we walked right past one outside a pharmacy. Apparently, the staff feel they are underpaid and want pay rises. We finished the tour at the heart of the city at its iconic Obelisk.
Following the tour we had a beautiful lunch at an organic restaurant (almost unbelievable there is one of these in this meat crazy country) and wandered the streets more on our own before heading back to the hostel for the afternoon. We rested up, had some dinner and got ready for a night of Tango!
We were picked up and driven over to the theatre where we entered into a whirlwind of confusion and awkward silences. We showed our tickets to the guy at the door who told us to show them to a guy at a desk, who told us to give them to a guy a few metres away. We were then dragged by a photographer over to a couple dressed in Tango clothes and were thrusted into poses where the guy pulled Kate's leg up to his chin and the girl grabbed me and lifted her own leg up, almost hitting my chin. We were then taken away from there and heard the models giggling to each other, probably at our confused faces, and next we were in a room where two girls handed us samples of a liqueur and a caramel like spread. It was dead silent as we tried them and the girls just stared at us knowing that we weren't about to buy anything from them and we knew the same but we all went along with it anyway and were left with a really awkward silence as they waited to see if we'd buy some. We said no thanks and left that room knowing that they felt as weird as we did and found ourselves in another room with a guy cleaning a bar and he pointed at a door and said to go through. We were stopped by a lady in a bowler hat who spoke rapid fire Spanish and had some girl lead us to a table in the next room. We took our seats and just stared at each other in utter shock and started laughing. What the hell had we got ourselves into here?!
It was a dinner show but we opted for the cheaper option of just the show... and an open bar... haha. We sat and enjoyed a few drinks before the show started. The room was like a large dining room with an upper level for the rich b*****s overlooking us all and the stage up front. We were only three tables back and so we had a great view. The show kicked off with some crazy tango dancing with four couples kicking and twirling around at dizzying speeds. An old guy and younger girl sang in between the dancing and we had some acrobatic guys adding to the mix also. It was a really cool show and it wasn't complete until the girl stood on a makeshift balcony and sang Evita's, 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina'. It was a lot of fun and we definately feel we got a lot of culture and feel for Argentina out of it.
Our next, and FINAL day, we headed down to the port area and wandered along the boardwalk. There were heaps of nice restaurants lining the water and we walked right past them as our budget says, it ain't gonna happen! It was a nice area, but no Darling Harbour and so we continued on and walked for what felt like an hour to the famous cementary where Evita Peron is buried. As we walked in, some lovely volunteers informed us that it was free entry but a donation would be nice and also you'll need this map that costs extra. We politely replied with, "We don't need it thanks" and they replied, "But its for the cementary" and gave us a piercing look that said, you will buy this or you ain't coming in! So through the gate we were confronted with rows and rows of building height structures (tombs), many with windows allowing you to see the coffins inside. Some were obviously new and others looked hundreds of years old.
We found our way to what we had come to see, the grave of Evita. It was no different from the rest of the other tombs except that there was a massive pile of flowers placed infront by all different groups who support her still. I had heard of the name before coming here but I honestly didn't know anything about her so I wasn't overly moved or inspired by seeing her resting place, but I guess it was interesting to see it anyway. We wandered some more but as we found some older ones where the tomb had broken a little and air from inside was seeping out, I had to get out of there as it just became eerie and not somewhere I wanted to be.
We grabbed a really nice lunch in a restaurant for the first time in a long while and toasted to our last day in South America. We then checked out a beautiful park that was like Buenos Aires' version of New York's Central Park. We wandered for a while but our legs were aching and so decided that we had seen as much as our bodies could take, we headed back to the hostel. We rested up a bit, packed our bags for the last time and headed to the hostel's bar for a couple of drinks to celebrate our amazing trip and called it a night, ending what has been an unforgettable experience.
We have mixed emotions about ending it. We're tired as hell of packing our bags, bus trips, hostels, crap food and moving around all the time. On this side of things, we're ready to go home. But on the other side... Scuba diving, sailing San Blass Islands, Machu Picchu, volunteering with monkeys, salt flats, volcanoes, sand boarding, surfing, volcano boarding, learning a language, living with a Guatemalan family, rafting, paraglding, learning to salsa dance, Iguazu Falls, riding bikes on the most dangerous road in the world, Carnavale in Bolivia, Lake Titikaca, new friends Lauren and Dotes and best of all, not working! Why the hell would we want to leave this???
We found out yesterday that Argentina and Australia just created a working holiday visa between our two countries. Why did they not think of this a year ago?!? It is so tempting to try and weisel our way into that to stay over here but our bank accounts are hurting anyway. We have missed all of our friends and family a lot over the last 8 months and can't wait to catch up with everyone and try and talk some of you into coming on our next trip with us!! Thankyou to everyone for following our trip on this blog. We hope you have enjoyed our stories and photos and hopefully we have inspired to you to travel over in this part of the world. It is truly a beautiful and amazing. There is something here for everyone and we can't recommend it highly enough.
Kate and Lexi