When we returned to New York early Sunday morning after eight days in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the real world slammed into me like a brick wall.
I was cranky because vacation was over. I was cold, leaving 80 degree temperatures for ones in the 40s. I was tired after 13 hours of flying, split between two legs. And to make matters worse, my checked suitcase was still in Peru, having failed to make the connection.
But things have to go wrong once in a while so you know just how good everything else is, right? And this vacation was good.
I've been enamored with Argentina ever since watching the movie version of "Evita" some 13 or 14 years ago. In fact, my dad and I have a tradition of watching it every winter, when I'm home for the holidays. I had a basic knowledge of the city's major sights ("Rio de la Plata, Florida, Corrientes, Nueve de Julio") solely from the movie soundtrack. And, of course, one of our first stops in Buenos Aires was the Casa Rosada, Argentina's equivalent to the White House, where Evita Peron spoke to the masses and Evita sings "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" in the production.
Later in the week we visited the Museo Evita. Most of the museum's information wasn't new to me, but the way she was portrayed was surprising. There was no hint whatsoever of the controversy surrounding her life and charity. And no mention of the musical or movie -- which isn't so surprising when you consider that they didn't exactly paint a picture of a saint.
Of course, Evita's family mausoleum in the Cementerio de la Recoleta is also a big tourist draw, but she hasn't always been buried there. A couple of years after she died in 1952, her remains were even spirited away to Italy by anti-Peronists and buried for 16 years under a false name.
|Tourists at Evita's grave|
|Elsewhere in the cemetery|
Although Evita was the spark that sent us to Argentina, most of our trip in fact did not revolve her. This week and next week I'll be sharing the highlights and lowlights of our eight days in Argentina and Uruguay -- how we got robbed for the first time ever (it's not nearly as bad as you think), why Buenos Aires probably has a host of plumbing problems because of me (I'm happy to finally stop carrying around my own roll of toilet paper), and what I'll miss most about the city (mostly $6 bottles of wine and liters of beer).
I'd been looking forward to visiting Argentina for so long that I was afraid it wouldn't live up to my expectations. Instead, the country exceeded them. I wish I were still there.
|Casa Rosada, even more rosada at night with pink lights|