Saturday, November 12, 2011

Don't cry for me Argentina

Time Irado headed to Recoleta, one of the residential neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Recoleta is considered a cultural hub of the city and is home to many of the cities most affluent citizens. We walked through the park which is surrounded by many shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafes. It was also home to a large craft fair with local artists selling homemade items for relatively cheap prices. The area is also home to a few museums and other works of art in and around Recoleta Park and United Nations Plaza. One of those works of art is the an 18 meter tall metal flower that opens in the mornings and closes at night, mimicking. The name of the work is Floris Genérica and it is something quite remarkable.  
Floris Generica located in Buenos Aires

 Standing in the middle of the United Nations Plaza (Plaza Naciones Unidas) you have to admit that the description is quite apt.  In the middle of a reflecting pool there it is – the big metal flower. It was a gift to the city in 2002 from architect Eduardo Catalano.  The architect, who died earlier this year, was born in Buenos Aires and wanted a lasting display and thanks for his home city which reflected both its beauty and its modernity.  Opinions, as with any other piece of art, are divided but it is a potent symbol of both the natural world and the technological one. From afar it belies its dimensions which are colossal.  The flower has six petals and each of these is 13 meters in length and 7 meters at its widest.  The flower is made from stainless steel and is reinforced by an aluminum skeleton and concrete.  

Entrance to La Recoleta Cemetery
The area of Recoleta is also the home of La Recoleta Cemetery, where many important Argentinians are buried including Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina. For Americans to make the connection, Eva Peron was the inspiration for the movie "Evita" where Eva was played by pop star Madonna. The cemetery itself is an amazing site, as there are hundreds of mausoleums and graves marked by large structures, monuments, and of course biblical odes. This was perhaps the busiest part of Buenos Aires thus far as there were hundreds of tourists packed into the cemetery which featured numerous former presidents and other key figures in Buenos Aires and Argentina's history. A city website says that over 25,000 tourists come to the site each year. The busiest tomb was undoubtedly that of Eva Perone which had lines to walk by and take a picture with the tomb of the former first lady. One tourist behind me told his friend this was the tomb of "Evita" and the response was "Who is Evita" and it was following with the foreign man singing the lyrics to "Don't Cry for me Argentina" the song sung by Madonna in the movie "Evita". Hopefully he knows that Eva Perone did not actually sing that song!

Monuments atop the Mausoleums in La Recoleta Cemetery
Many of the Mausoleums are in great shape but others are showing signs of age and wear. Several of them have broken glass and doors which allow visitors to see inside at the tombs and alters as designed by the architects of the structures. There were some very interesting sights inside the tombs there were artifacts, caskets, traditional family items, and of course bibles. I wish I could share pictures of inside the tombs for you to see the intricate works and displays but I decided against taking pictures inside the actual structures just for respect purposes. I kept my picture taking to the structures and monuments themselves. But it got me thinking, there are cemeteries all over the world, why do famous cemeteries such as Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. or Recoleta Cemetery attract so many visitors each year? One quote I found in looking at the Recoleta Cemetery statistics was "Without doubt, death is the great mystery of our lives. Those figures found in tombstones, in tombs, represent us. They are our past but also our future." I feel that is a great summation, and a great way to end this blog post.

Tonight, we head to Puerto Madera to see the affluent area of shops, restaurants, and high rise buildings at night.

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