Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Pink House and a Street Fair

Today Time Irado headed over to the Plaza de Mayo and San Telmo to see some of the most famous city sites. The first site we visited was located at the Plaza de Mayo, and is the official office of the President of Argentina. The President of the United States has the White house, the President of Argentina has the Pink House. The Pink House, or Casa Rosada, is an old Fort from the original founding of Santa Maria of Buenos Aires back in 1580. Unlike the White House in the United States, the President of Argentina does not live here, but she does fly in each morning to work in the Official Helicopter. On Friday, we saw the President arriving at work, as she arrived at 11:11am on 11/11/11. The color of the building also has nothing to do with the fact that the President is a woman, but rather because when they went to paint the building, they used a mixture that included bovine (cow) blood, which gave it its pink hue. After many uses over the years, starting in 1942 it was declared a National Historical Monument and became the focal point again of Argentinian politics.
Casa Rosada: Argentina's Presidential Office Building

We arrived just before 10am when the tours started and were luckily in the first group of 30 people. Just after we received our passes the line grew into a long mass of people awaiting to enter so a perfect example of the early bird getting the worm! Throughout the building there were various rooms dedicated to certain time periods, people, and causes which is very similar to the White House. It was a nice display of both Argentinian political history and also the impact of women in this culture. Eva Peron again dominated the attention of the tourists with many taking pictures with her paintings and pictures as we toured. We were able to walk out on the balcony where she addressed the Argentinian people. Overall, it was a good tour, even though it was only in Spanish. At the conclusion, the tour guide actually sang the first two or three verses of the "Don't Cry For Me Argentina", which was a very good rendition of the song performed by Madonna for the movie Evita.

San Martin's tomb
After exiting the Pink House we headed back out into the Plaza de Mayo. On one side of the Plaza is the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), which was built on the site of the original colonial church. This massive cathedral, with 12 pillars for the 12 apostles, is not only an important religious landmark. General Jose de San Martin, Argentina's most popular and revered hero, is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral. Uniformed guards continually watch over the tomb.  There were many people inside praying, making offerings, and some waiting for the noon mass. The artwork and intricacy of the detail was astonishing and was on par with many other of the amazing Cathedrals I have seen throughout Europe and now South America.

San Telmo Sunday Market
After leaving the Cathedral, we headed a few blocks to the east to the area of town called San Telmo. This area is home to a Sunday market which is second to none. Lining one of the pedestrian streets were hundreds of vendors. The vendors were peddling homemade arts and crafts as well as manning juice and barbecue stands. We walked through the madness for many blocks looking at some of the local artwork and goods for sale. It was quite a scene to see so many vendors, tourists, and locals descending upon this narrow street. We even found a great spot to have lunch off the main street in San Telmo before taking the Buenos Aires subway back to the San Martin Plaza where we are staying. Time to get a plan together for the rest of the afternoon and then meet the Ernst & Young Buenos Aires Corporate Responsibility Fellows for a feast tonight!

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