Our main aim for today was to check out La Recoleta, which is the cemetery where Evita is buried. Getting to the cemetery saw us take our first Argentinian bus, which was most noteworthy due to the payment system. Unless you have the Buenos Aires equivalent of an Oyster card, you have to pay the 2 peso (about 30p) fare using coins. This wouldn’t be a problem if coins were widespread, but it turns out that Argentina is very much a paper money only society. Their notes go as small as 2 pesos, and generally when a payment requires a fraction of a peso it is simply rounded up or down. Therefore due to this lack of coins, if you go somewhere and ask for change you will often get given less than the note value you hand over (i.e. 8 pesos in coins for a 10 peso note) – very strange!
When we eventually arrived at the La Recoleta area, we first took a wander around the nearby park, while taking advantage of the nicest weather we’ve seen in a while (a comfortable 25 degrees). We also stopped for lunch in a café by the design centre, which is home to a number of modern furniture shops. The cemetery was only a short walk up from the café, and it wasn’t long before we could see the tops of crypts looming over the cemetery walls.
Shortly after entering the cemetery we arrived at a statue in the middle of a small plaza. At this point some Americans came up to us and asked if one of us would mind taking their picture. We obliged, and soon got chatting about where they were from. Turns out they were a friendly bunch, and two were from Atlanta and one from Chicago. This was quite a coincidence, since on my way home from Rio I have a day in Atlanta, and I now have a contact to show me around!
The guy from Chicago had handily been to the cemetery before and was happy to show us where Evita’s grave was. On the way we stopped by a grave and statue which came with a rather harrowing tale: a woman was buried, and around a week later they returned to the grave and found it had been badly damaged. On further inspection, it turned out she had been mistakenly buried alive and attempted to escape before dying a horrible death. As a result, a white statue was erected in her honour, and people now come to have their picture taken while holding the statues hand in sympathy. Shortly after we arrived at the Duarte crypt, which was Evita’s family name before she married Peron. There were several plaques celebrating her life and achievements on the side of the crypt, as well as a number of roses hanging from the middle.
Once we had seen Evita’s crypt we had a wander around some other parts of the cemetery until it came close to closing time. Not fancying spending the night in such a place, we opted to get out on time and go for some ice cream at a nearby café with the Americans. We had a great Dulce de Leche Sundae while enjoying some interesting cloud formations during sunset.
This evening we took a night off going out and just relaxed at the hostel. We had a rather tense few games of table football, which resulted in a 3-3 draw before some other people started to use the table – hopefully to be continued tomorrow!
Photos of the day: rows of crypts in La Recoleta cemetary, one of the plaques to commemorate Evita, and us enjoying our Dulce de Leche sundaes while representing Nando’s.