Today has been a look at both ends of living. We set off to further explore the city. Like many cities it has distinct areas, rich, poor, and business. San Telmo where we are staying was once the rich area. Big houses and cobbled streets. Then there were two disease epidemics. All the rich people moved north. The houses were bought up and converted into flats which became homes to the immigrant workers. This left the area with no investment and it deteriorated. With tourism that is starting to change but it's still untidy and in poor repair.
Our walk took us through the richer suburbs. Posh shops and no big holes in the footpath. Still the ubiquitous graffiti but at least it was spelt correctly. The rich and famous of Buenos Aires live in opulence and they die in it too. We arrived at the Ricoletta cemetery . It is very much like Montmartre (spelling?) in Paris but from memory a lot bigger. To be precise it's a Necropolis. Huge statue adorned mausoleums line avenues. They have glass or wrought iron doors. Inside a small altar area and steps down to different levels. You can see that they go down 3 or 4 levels and each is stacked high with the coffins of dead family members.
Some have fallen into disrepair and the doors are missing. The coffins are in full view slowly rotting open. A very macabre sight. Among the hundreds of mausoleums is a very drab and uninteresting one belonging to the Duarte family. It was the only one with flowers on it. Lots of people were gathered at it having their pictures taken. This is the final resting place of Maria Eve de Peron Duarte. Eva Peron. A relatively modest affair in death for such a high profile person in life.
This evening we were attending a Tango show. The Spanish settlers brought the dance to Argentina. It is in my view the most dramatic and passionate dance. Energetic and full of life. Buenos Aires has many 'Tango houses'. Like anything some are better than others. It is possible to buy evenings from street sellers but advice is they are usually low quality. We booked from an established operator. I can't say if it was over priced as I have nothing to compare it with. We felt it was worth the money.
We were picked up at the hotel and driven to the house. It was an old building with great atmosphere. It was laid out as a restaurant with a stage at the end. We were shown to our table for two and presented with the menu. A 3 course dinner and drinks were included in the price. A good choice of food and an excellent bottle of red.
The stage show was fantastic. A quartet consisting of a pianist, a cellist, a violinist and a Bandoneon (accordion) player provided the music. The cheaper shows apparently have taped music. We were then entertained by a very slick production of Tango through the ages. Excellent dancing and singing. In all a very enjoyable evening.
We went to bed having seen death at the cemetery and life in the tango dancing.
Our last full day in Buenos Aires. It was another sunny day but a stiff breeze was blowing so it felt a little chilly. A bit like London the docks have largely died a death. Also like London the old dock buildings have been converted into swish apartments with river front bars etc. An affluent area and an enjoyable walk along the river. We walked through some of the financial district with the usual array of skyscrapers opened by banks. Santander logos everywhere....b******s.
We came across the Congress building which is their parliament. It's a very grand affair modelled on the White House. It looks a lot older but apparently it isn't. Another microcosm with the wealthy legislators inside and people sleeping under cardboard right on the steps. A lot of work to be done I would suggest.
We ended the day in a pub near our hotel, owned by an ex-pat and called The Gibraltar. It was a little surreal but still nice to sit on a bar stool and drink a pint of cask bitter.
It's an early night to night as we have a 5.45am taxi pick up to go the airport. We are headed to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia. It's the southernmost city on our little planet. We are hoping to do some hiking around the national parks and glaciers. It's going to be cold.
I'm sat on the airplane writing this and the laptop battery is getting low so more later.
The descent into Ushuaia was spectacular. From a blue sky we descended into cloud at 8000 ft. At 5000 feet we broke cloud and I looked out of the window and thought Oh F*** there appears to be a mountain about 10ft from our wing tip. The pilot basically used the mountain like a roundabout and banked round it and lined up to land. As we approached over Beagle channel a huge rainbow appeared with mountains behind it. Amazing sight.
Now at the B&B which seems nice. Out for a bite later and then some planning for the next couple of days.