Monday, June 16, 2008

Long Walk Number One

There are a few subway lines in Buenos Aires. And they're useful—for getting you into the center and back out again. And then there are something like 200 different bus lines, which are so complicated that the bus map is 75 pages long. So unless you know the name of every street in the metropolitan area, this method of navigation is pretty much useless.

So in our first few days of exploring, we've been doing a lot of walking. The toes-numb, back-aching, come-home-and-collapse kind of walking. Oh! and the sidewalks in Buenos Aires are maybe the worst we've ever seen. Insert 1980s-style jokes about Beirut here, and you get the picture.

But we've gotten to know Palermo pretty well in just a few days—which is saying something, 'cause the neighborhood is huge. On Friday (the 13th!) we decided to check out La Recoleta, the most famous cemetery in the city.

After passing a bizarre, four-story, faux-mud-covered "arabian-themed" restaurant, complete with an enormous fake camel out front, and after a slight mishap at the entrance gate when I was suddenly and involuntarily on a first-name basis (mine, not his) with the overly friendly man collecting money for "AIDS orphans" at the gate, we were confronted with the decrepit beauty of La Recoleta—which is basically a feral cat farm with some crumbling mausoleums.

Of course, not all are crumbling—some of Argentina's rich are still rich enough to hire help to sponge-bathe the boxes in which they keep their dead. But for the most part, the most fascinating aspect was how run-down this ultimate tourist destination was. Advice to the rich: even if you can take it with you, eventually your coffin is gonna split open and let it out:

And all around, in what is one of Buenos Aires' glitziest neighborhoods, there are high-rise mausoleums for the living:

And yes, Evita Perón is buried here. But her tomb is mad boring compared with some of the others. For instance, she's got nothin' on this lady:

(There is a story that three days after Evita died, her little pooch Canela died, as well, presumably of a broken heart. But no room for Canela in the Duarte mausoleum, I suppose. The family of this creepy Nightmare-Before-Christmas lady apparently felt differently about it.)

Next, to make Stuart feel more at home, we were off down Guido Avenue!

And past the Guido Palace!

(East Hanover, eat your heart out.)

We traveled down into the Microcentro in search of record stores we didn't find (if anyone reading this knows what happened to Duck-o-Homo, please let us know!).

But first, our first vegetarian restaurant of the trip: Lotos, a cafeteria-style lunch spot with a health-food store in the basement (to which there was an escalator—can't health nuts walk down a flight of stairs!?). Lunch was a veggie casserole of sorts, which was quite tasty, and a salad with some pureed winter squash dumped on top, which was not:

After crisscrossing the neighborhood, Stuart bought an Argentine press of the first Violadores LP (so that the sealed Peruvian press at home can remain that way, natch) and we headed to the Subte to trek back to Palermo.

Upon arrival back at home, we made brilliant decision number one: try not to do more than one thing in a day.

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