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Posts Tagged ‘Buenos Aires’

(April 2009)

I’m back in Buenos Aires for a few days before heading back to Canada. The city has a population of around 3 million and a metropolitan population of approximately 13 million. This time I’m staying in the microcentre and aside from doing a bit of shopping I want to take in some green spaces. The best place in the city to find green space is Palermo.

The Buenos Aires Zoo is an 18 hectare, 45 acre, park and holds 2,500+ animals. When you enter you see a number of free-ranging birds and animals on the grounds. Two common rodents, but the first time I had encountered either, are the mara or Patagonian hare and the semi-aquatic nutria, or coypu. My camera stopped working eight days before my return but you can see images of these animals here.

I saw a couple of condors again. I realize a zoo is a place of research and education but after seeing these large birds in Colca Canyon and the High Andes this struck me as too confined a space for them. Watching the baboons also seemed a little odd. They seemed quite intelligent, although could be rather aggressive. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a zoo.

The Buenos Aires Botanical Garden is located near the zoo. It was designed by landscape architect Charles Thays and is a lovely oasis in which to retreat from the concrete. It’s also home to many abandoned cats.

Buenos Aires has a great public transit system and I took a commuter train from Retiro station to Tigre. Tigre is a town on the Paraná Delta, about 30 km from BA, and is a popular tourist and weekend spot. I took a catamaran tour along the brown delta waters. There are hundreds of islands, some have cottages or resorts, there is even a hostel, but most are not populated. Due to flooding the cottages are on stilts. The town itself is also nice to stroll through.

I’ve come to the end of my excursion in Mexico and South America. I don’t quite feel ready to leave but having spent the final five weeks trying to get around with a hamstring injury has tired me. Travelling is physically demanding and it feels like I could use a vacation!

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Don’t cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don’t keep your distance

Chorus – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Evita) –  Andrew Lloyd Webber

I arrived in Buenos Aires on March 22nd, a Sunday morning.I’ve become accustomed to the smaller cities and BA is huge. After checking in at Hostal Sandanza in San Telmo I headed out into the streets to take in the music, tango dancers, street artists, tourists and locals at the famous Sunday Antique Market. It’s a perfect introduction to the city that I’ve wanted to see for so long!

I like San Telmo. The neighbourhood is an artsy blend of the trendy and the rundown. I feel less like a tourist here than any place I’ve been over the course of my travels. I’ve developed a deep appreciation for empanadas and enjoy sitting outside at Plaza Dorrego and taking in the evening entertainment.

La Boca district was home to the original poor Italian settlers and is a very colourful  tourist attraction. Caminito Street and the neighbourhood are full of restaurants, tango shows, artists and souvenir shops. It’s quite a contrast to upscale Recoleta.

La Recoleta Cemetery is home to the once rich and famous and their crypts are rather ostentatious, although, there are signs of forgotten neglect. The song Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from the stage play I had seen way back around 1980 was what had inspired my desire to be in this country and I thought I should look for Eva Perón’s tomb. The reality of pain induced by my hamstring injury dampened my enthusiasm for the search and I didn’t find it – ah, don’t cry for me Evita.

The hamstring injury also means I’m not learning the tango. Perhaps I’ll have another opportunity to embrace it some day.

The flags in the photos are from the National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. It’s a national holiday commemorating the victims of the former military dictatorship and is held on the anniversary of the 1976 coup d’etat. At first the streets were empty but later people were demonstrating all over the city, or at least the microcentre.

When I started this trip I thought I’d spend about a month in Buenos Aires but I arrived with just under three weeks left before heading back to Canada and a couple more places I want to see. Surprisingly, after six days in BA I’m ready to head back out into greener environments.

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