Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 4

We took the number 93 bus which stops about 2 blocks away from the famous Recoleta cemetery today. The bus stops here in BA are pretty funny--you really have to look out for them. They can be anything from a piece of cardboard with the number written on with a sharpie to a printed sticker just stuck around a lamp post!
#93 bus stop        #110 and #140 bus stop
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We got off too soon and walked the six blocks to the cemetery. It was enclosed by a four-sided wall, and we walked the wrong way around to the entrance, so we had to walk around 3 sides till we reached it. It doesn't sound like much, but when each side is 1/4 mile long, it adds up! We spotted this guy on the walk around. I guess he couldn't make it! We can't be sure if he carries the mattress on his back wherever he goes or if he just saw it laying on the street and wanted a snooze!
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The cemetery walls                                    Guarded by killer pigeons!
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The cemetery was amazing. Hundreds upon hundreds of huge mausoleums stretched out over long, twisting, angular avenues. It contained the remains of many famous Argentinians, including Eva "Evita" Peron. Some of them have been there over a hundred years; some only ten or twenty. They still have services there. We know because we saw a service ongoing for someone that had passed away and was being placed in the family tomb! Some of the monuments were a bit creepy--they were wide open, and you could see the actual caskets. It was always very sad--the sight of small caskets of children who had obviously passed away very young.
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We passed one with what looked like a skull and crossbones, and Kami and I had a discussion about what would be on the facade of our tomb. Crossed hammers with the screaming face was my decision. There were some amazing and obviously very expensive monument and mausoleum designs. The one in my pictures with the metal bar strapped across the front made me worry, as it didn't really look like it was meant to keep the public out, but to keep something else in!

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After wandering around for an hour, we headed out for a bit to eat. I got a chorizo sausage in a bread bun from a street vendor. It tasted awesome, but we’ve learned a couple of things here, especially with food, drink, and prices! Most places (even some supermarkets) don't have prices listed. Street vendors and small shops won't always tell you how much something is until you actually buy it. I know you may think, "Why don't you ask how much something is BEFORE you buy it," but what usually happens is they reply in Spanish, and it's sometimes a more complicated explanation than a number. Of course, they don't speak a word of English (or so they say), so for all we know, they then charge you what they want depending on how much you appear to understand. I'm sure of it. As we looked around, I saw the street vendor grill with a young guy, probably 14 or 15, hanging out behind the stall. I thought he was the owner, and was just about to tell him what I wanted when he pointed to a woman bustling up to the front. I looked at her, and  I pointed to the sausage, held my finger up, and said, “one please.” She put a sausage on the grill along with a hamburger patty. 5 minutes later they were cooked, and she started to hand me the hamburger. She then realized mine was the sausage, and handed the burger to the kid behind the stall, who then just walked off. She then gave me the sausage and when I asked how much, she said 22 pesos (about $6). I swear that kid had some arrangement with the woman that he waited there until a “tourist” came along, she then charged me double so I actually paid for his food! Anyway, we're learning. :)
We also stopped at a small street-side cafe, and Kami got a toasted sandwich and a coffee. We sat for 45 minutes before heading off. The fashion, people, and surroundings are ever so interesting here, and it's great just to sit and have a drink outdoors and people watch.
cool tree and roots in one of the many parks and grassy areas around BA
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We headed down to the huge silver flower art that we had passed the day before on the hop-on/hop-off bus tour. It took us half an hour to walk there, and we passed a beautiful building that looked like some school or college.
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The sculpture changes from night to day. The petals are wide open during the day, but it closes up at night. When you get up to the side of it, it's a lot bigger than it looks from the road side, and you can also see that it's totally surrounded by water.
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By this time it was going on 3 P.M. We were meeting some friends at the apartment at 5 so we could all go along to the show together. We initially decided to get a taxi back, but walked another mile or so and found the bus stop for the 93 bus that we knew would drop us off somewhere around the apartment. You pay for the buses with coins, and it's an automated machine. The driver sets the amount as you get on when you tell him your destination, and you insert coins. It gives you change and a ticket. I inserted the coins twice and it kept rejecting all the coins. We then realised that this machine was asking for exact change only--something we didn't have. A local guy behind us realised what was happening, and without hesitation, he swiped his pre-paid travel card twice for Kami and I and then once for himself. We tried to give him the money, but he wouldn't accept and just smiled and said something in Spanish that I could tell was friendly. We thanked him and rode back to the apartment on the hot, sweaty, humid, but free bus!
Full album of pictures:


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