April 14, 2006
Andrea Visit Day 6
The only thing we had to do today was go back to the Recoleta Cemetery. We didn't leave the hostel until noon, because we were waiting to see if we could stay in our same room. The people ended up not showing for their reservation so we were able to keep it. (Dan Says: And I was so looking forward to showing you what dorm life was all about.) Dan found out that we did have our own bathroom, it just wasn't connected to our room. We did need a key to get in it, but we had our own bathroom for two whole days and didn't even know it. I'm not sure if it's worth it though. The keys you use to open doors are as old as dirt so it takes five minutes just to get in. (Dan Says: Keys here are the kind you would give your kids to play with. It's an even worse experience when you really gotta go and you can't even open the door.) We also wondered around for awhile trying to find a place to exchange my money and get a good rate, but were unsuccessful. (Dan Says: I think most of the usual venues were closed because it was Good Friday.).
It was probably about 1pm when we finally made it to the cemetery. It reminded my of the cemetery in New Orleans, but it was different too. This was obviously a place for very wealthy people to be laid to rest. As soon as we walked through the gates I noticed cats. There was one that looked exactly like my sister's cat, Isabelle. Now I've seen plenty of stray dogs all around the city, with plenty of dog doo on the street to go with it. So it was odd to all of a sudden see stray cats. There were more as we walked around the cemetery. There was even one tomb that had a dish of water and food in front of it. Each tomb was different. Some were taken care of better, some were more ornate, some had three stories, and some had statues/monuments. Our goal was to find Evita's tomb, so after wandering around for awhile we walked back to the main entrance to consult the map. I was thinking that her tomb wouldn't stand out among the others. I was correct. There were many people standing at the site, but it was fairly average. Even though I don't know much about her I had the feeling of serenity. There were many people there, but everyone was even more respectful and solemn than anywhere else in the cemetery. Even though Evita's tomb was not visually impressive, it was an impressive experience.
Almost immediately outside of the cemetery was the market that Kathleen had told us about. There were many stalls that were not filled with vendors. I figured this was as good a place as any to buy some gifts to take home. The reminds me a bit of the farmer's market in Madison, but this was more crafts, than produce. Everything was hand made. There was jewelery, mates, leather goods, all sorts of scarves, purses, artwork, knives, and so much more. What was incredible is that nothing was the same. Even if many people had jewelery, I could clearly see that it was made in a different way. So even if things seemed similar, they were really different. I'm really glad that the market was set up. This was definitely a highlight and I hope we go back tomorrow to do some more shopping. (Dan Says: Buying decorations for your home is so much fun.).
As we walked throughout the market we found our way to the museum. Since we had time, I wanted to go see the Argentine artwork. Being a holiday though it was closed. We were close to the Gardens so we just kept walking. The Japanese gardens were somewhat similar to the Rotary Gardens in Janesville, that I liked so much. (Dan Says: Does everything you see remind you of something else back home?) Since it was fall there weren't too many flowers, but it was still nice to enjoy the peacefulness of greenery around me in contrast to all the smoke of the city.
The only thing that captured our attention was all the carp. Dan paused for several minutes taking pictures of the ugly creatures coming up for air. There was also this black cat that kept trying to cross my path, but I wouldn't let it. I didn't want to take any chances with bad luck seeing as how I was in a foreign country and all. We also saw a couple sitting around and drinking mate with their baby. I have seen lots of mate consumption since my arrival, but this was the first time Dan took a picture of it.
It still seemed early although it was probably after 3pm. (Dan Says: What do you mean? That IS early!). Even though we had done a lot of walking we decided to keep on trucking to the Botanical gardens. I would guess it was about 1/2 mile walk that took us past the zoo we had been to yesterday. I think we walked through at least two different neighborhoods which were very nice, but this street seemed to have dog poop about every other step. This was by far the worst I've seen it and it still wasn't that bad, because Dan didn't seem to think it was a big deal. (Dan Says: The definition of "ubiquitous" is dog poop on the sidewalks of Latin America.) I observed more storm damage. Apparently last night it was rather stormy. I didn't notice anything as I was sleeping, but when we headed out today I notices trees branches and leaves strewn everywhere. The cab driver from this morning informed us of the storm. There was even a tornado that apparently destroyed a good part of a nearby town.
The botanical gardens really just seemed like another plaza. (Dan Says: Except there was a fence around it.) There were lots of trees obviously (Dan Says: I was surprised to see trees there.), with many paths and gardens. Just as with the Japanese gardens, what I witnessed in the garden was more interesting than the garden itself. At the botanical gardens it was all cats and kissing. I thought it was crazy to see 5 or 6 cats all looking for some good ear scratching, but I was greeted by 10, maybe 20 when I walked through the main entrance. I noticed that containers were sitting out for water. These cats were clearly being taken care of by somebody. I was surprised by how tame they were. If I crouched down, many of them would run up to me, wanting to be petted. I spotted cats throughout the garden, but what was even more visible were all the couples making out on park benches. Dan had warned me that people just make out anywhere in public and it was no big deal. However, it was never as clearly noticeable as it was here. I think I would have been shocked to see this in the U.S., but it just seems normal here, which it is. I don't think it will phase me if I ever witness this in the U.S.. (Dan Says: Don't you see that all the time in your school?) Our walk in the park ended with the sighting of a mob of cats. As we walked closer Dan pointed out that all those cats were in one place because someone had put cat food out for them. I'm not sure if it was because we were tired from a long day of walking or a true fascination of all the cats, but we sat there for quite awhile watching them. (Dan Says: This place was an absolute kitty heaven. They had all the food and water they needed, people constantly gave them attention, and there were no dogs to be seen, so they were free to roam around, eat, and make new kitties nonstop.) While sitting there we also noticed a large group of men playing chess and enjoying mate. This is something I've always seen on TV or movies, except for the mate part, but never seen in real life. It was kind of neat to witness.
We tried looking for a place to get ice cream, to fulfill our requirement for the day. After not finding one and being thoroughly sick of walking we grabbed a cab back to the hostel. I started working on the blog while Dan went out to buy groceries. We had the whole night ahead of us, but nothing planned. Dan decided to make spaghetti, instead of going out to eat. I was very much looking forward to this, both for the fresh food and having someone else cook for me. I worked on the blog and enjoyed some wine as Dan slaved away in the kitchen. Finally, it was ready! I made some suggestions for how to continue working on the recipe, but it was sooo good. I did the dishes when we were done eating and then we headed out to get dessert...ice cream, what else? We were also in search of a corkscrew to open our second bottle of wine. We didn't find one, (Dan Says: We opened the first bottle by pushing the cork down, but the second bottle had some kind of synthetic cork, and pushing it didn't work. Normally, I would borrow a corkscrew, but this particular hostel has a stupid rule that you can only drink the expensive alcohol that they sell you, so I couldn't go to the common area to ask for a corkscrew to open the $2 bottle I bought in the grocery store. Finally I got desperate and asked to borrow the hostel employee's corkscrew to "do something" and he bought it! I subsequently spilled half the wine on the bed and the carpet. The scene looked straight out of the set of Hostel, the movie.) but found Kathleen when we got back. She needed to get some drugs from Dan, so they made the deal and we chatted for awhile. (Dan Says: Maybe this one is best left unexplained.) It was nice to see her again. It was rather late (Dan Says: What? It was only 1 AM!) and we briefly contemplated going out to a club. I had been really excited about checking out the true nightlife of Buenos Aires. However, most people don't even go out until 3 in the morning and I didn't really want to be out late. Yes, I'm an old, boring, square. (Dan Says: No comment.) In any event I bid my final farewell to Kathleen as she headed out. I finally finished working on my blog and that was it. My last night in Buenos Aires.