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  • Day46

    A Visit to Evita Duarte

    June 12, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ever since we had arrived in Lima about 5 weeks ago, we had not experienced a single wet day. Not a single one. Not on any day of cycling. Not on any day of trekking to Machu Picchu. Not ever. In fact, on most days, we did not even see a cloud. It was uncanny.

    It was only a matter of time before that incredible run of good fortune had to come to a close. That day was today. Paul and I had previously decided to revisit the Recoleta Cemetery and the famous La Boca region of the city, however when I looked out of my window early in the morning I was not rewarded with the normal view of cloudless blue skies. In fact the sky had clouded over and I could even see that the streets six floors below me were a little shiny with recent rain.

    In some respects I was not disappointed. Rain is a normal part of life (especially for a cyclist) and it really would have been almost paranormal to complete the entire trip without so much as a drop from the heavens. I looked for my winter clothes and prepared to leave the hotel, but heard a noise from the streets near the Obelisk. It was a demonstration about to begin. Since I had a grandstand view of the proceedings, I decided to watch.

    In a few minutes a convoy of police vehicles had arrived and disgorged a line of riot police. Soon the police greatly outnumbered the small band of protesters. The protesters did their best to maintain the rage, but it soon ran out of steam and the small band dispersed quietly. The traffic in the streets quickly returned to normal.

    Since the Recoleta district was not too far from our hotel, Paul and I decided to walk. At that time the rain was not much more than a fine drizzle, although it was sufficient to dampen our trousers and shoes. Soon we were wandering the famous cemetery, which is the final resting place of hundreds of Buenos Aires richest and most powerful citizens. The most famous occupant is Evita Peron (Duarte) whose dark mausoleum is still visited by hundreds of people every day. Although she died way back in 1952, aged only 33, her legend has not diminished with the passage of time.

    Paul and I spent some time wandering the macabre streets of the dead, however the rain started falling more heavily and it was beginning to creep into my clothing. It was time to find our way back to our hotel to warm up and dry out.

    In the early afternoon the skies had lightened a little, the rain had stopped and the sun even peeped out a couple of times. We decided to visit La Boca district. This district is one of the more seedy parts of Buenos Aires, but is popular among tourists for its brightly coloured buildings, mostly constructed out of corrugated iron sheeting. Apparently these were originally constructed by the fishermen of the city out of cast off materials.

    The hotel concierge had warned us about walking to La Boca, as the surrounding streets are deemed to be unsafe for tourists. We decided to take a taxi instead. After a few minutes of erratic driving by the taxi man, we began to think that it would have been safer to take our chances with the local muggers. After whizzing through numerous red lights and narrowly missing a group of pedestrians on a pedestrian crossing, we somehow survived to reach La Boca.

    We found that the morning rain had somehow dampened down the spirits of the famous Caminita St. Most of the stalls were closed, the cafes were empty and the place looked even more down at heel than usual. Nevertheless we sat down to a lunch of empanadas and then spent an hour or so wandering the alleyways. Another hair raising taxi ride took us back to the centre of town.

    By that time the temperature had dropped and the wind chill made the place absolutely freezing. It really felt like a bleak winter's day in Melbourne. At least it would help prepare us for the weather we were likely to expect when we step out of the plane at Tullamarine in three day's time.
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