Monday, 10 August 2009

Walking Tour, 27 July 2009

As I said before, I had seen a great deal of Buenos Aires, but still knew very little about its history. That all changed the day of the walking tour... All of a sudden the city took on a whole new meaning and the aesthetic beauty that I loved transformed into a new love when I started to understand the history and the politics of this great city.

The tour started with a video that showed pictures of Buenos Aires in the Peron years, in the 70s and in 2000. In the video I saw all the familiar sights and streets filled with rioters and mourners. There was fantastic footage of the Prime Minister being air lifted from the Casa Rosada in 2000. The city was coming to life in a whole new way.

Out on the street our guide informed us that Avenida 9 de Julio (the street I crossed every day) was the widest avenue in South America, and that it actually used to built up with two blocks of buildings. The two blocks of buildings were demolished in an attempt to make Buenos Aires more Parisian in its aesthetics. Coool!

He also told us about the famous obelisk that no other building could be built up higher than the obelisk. And that the obleisk was treated with a great deal of suspicion by the locals and some saw it as a symbol of an omnipresent eye watching over the people. He also said that as part of world aids day they put a giant condom over the obelisk.

We then walked to the old HSBC tower, now the Israeli embassy, which during 2000 a police officer used as a vantage point to shoot 5 civilian protestors! This has of course led to outrage.

He then took us to the Plaza de Mayo and pointed out the Cathedral, the Casa Rosada, and El Cabildo. He pointed out the balcony which Evita stood at. And he also corrected me and told me that she didn´t actaully sing from the balcony, she just made a speech! Shame! He also told us that the Casa Rosada was pink because cows blood was used as the tint in the paint. They sure love their cows in Argentina!

He also told us about the Mothers who march every thursday in the Plaza. These are the mothers of sons and daughters who were kidnapped and presumably killed in the 70s.

The protestors who camp out in the plaza de mayo were veterans of the falklands war who were demanding more pensions money. But the things was these veterans were not actually entitled to more pension because they didn´t actually fight in the war, they were in the army at the time but hte war finished before they made it to t he battle.

We learnt so much it was awesome.

Then he took us to an Evita Museum (not THE evita museum), her former office, where her body was kept after it was embalmed. There were loads of pictures of her throughout her life (I don´t like the fact that madonna isn´t really evita!) and there was a guy there who told us about the dy evita came to bring him and his friends a football. I´m going to write more about Evita in another post, because she is just incredible and i learnt so much about her.

Then he took us to a site where one of the concentration camps of the 70s could be found. It was under a building and it had been forgotten about until they came to constuct a highway. When the building was demolished they found the concentraion camp!

I saw the city in a whole other light again and I was amazed. I remember the first time I went to BErlin and fell in love with it when I learnt about and saw all the History, the same feeling came over me during this walking tour. I was in love with BA on a whole new level.

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