Week 6: Tango with Evita

If you ever go to Buenos Aires and want to party do it on Sunday, because on Monday everything is closed anyway. The only open thing to do I could find was the legendary stadium of the Boca Juniors, la Bomboñera. I took a tour as the only English-speaking guy with a bunch of South Americans and therefore enjoyed a lot of attention from the pretty female guide. Before speaking to the group in Spanish she would always speak to me in English. Finally I got the attention I deserve…

La Bomboñera holds over 57.000 people and is home of one of the two big clubs in Buenos Aires. It’s painted in gold and blue, the colors of the Boca Juniors since they lost their first colors (black and white) in a bet to another team. It’s said the colors were taken from a Swedish ship (La Boca is a harbour-district). A special restriction applies to red, the color of the local rival River Plate. It can’t touch the walls (directly) and even sponsor Coca Cola has to obey that rule. We visited the incredible steep stands, the changing room of the visitors and the museum. I would have loved to see a game in that atmosphere.

The night was Flora’s last in South America so we went to have dinner in a little Parilla where I had the best piece of meat of my life. On plastic tablecloth and with a not so good wine. Afterwards we looked for a club that hosted a tango-competition. We were pretty late, it had started in the afternoon and we didn’t have to pay entry, and saw only three rounds of eight couples dancing to three songs on the same stage. There were people from all over South America but also Asia and Europe (Italy, Germany and even Serbia). I have no idea how you would judge those people, each couple seemed to do completely different stuff, but my favourite was a little old lady with a bigger, long-haired gentleman. They jumped around like teenagers. Teenagers that are very good at tango. I’m not sure, but it might have been the same woman (ok, probably not) who sat in a side-street of San Telmo at the Sunday-market and played little cooking-pot-drums only stopping to raise a sign that said ‘Show me the money!’.

I also learned more about the complicated story of Flora’s French-German-friend. She came to Argentina with two friends and their flight home was on the 22. It was cancelled and while they were on their way to get a new appointment her bag was stolen, containing nothing than a few books, a cellphone and her German passport. So this night her friends left without her. Then the blessings of a dual citizenship started. The French embassy wanted a copy of her French passport which is in France and the porter of the German embassy told her it’s a French problem as she was born there. And anyway it was too late as the embassy closes at 11am. Another day and another walk to the embassy later she eventually made it inside the German embassy where suddenly everything went without any problems. She can get her temporary passport tomorrow, hopefully.

In the morning Flora took off to the airport and I started a trip in the past. First to the famous Ricoleto graveyard where Evita Peron is buried next to a lot of important Argentinians. A lot of the names I saw during the tour (I came just in time to join the group and it was for free) I knew from streetsigns in practically every Argentinian city. The graveyard consists only of tombs and looks like a little village. We were told the spots are owned by private people who only have to pay a little tax every year. If they don’t pay, nothing happens. Therefore the tombs range from huge to tiny and from perfectly well maintained to completely desolate. We heard the story of the military whose body was stolen from young Peronists (after they had killed him) to swap it with Evita Peron’s which was ‘held hostage’ by the military junta. And of the young woman who was buried alive. A statue of the young woman with her hand on the doorknob reminds of that tragic story. However, the statue is outside, so it looks like she wants to get in. The old guide had a seemingly endless knowledge about this place. Some of the tombs look like houses, with glass-doors through which you can see the coffins. It’s a weird way to spend one’s money, if you ask me.

After visiting Evita’s tomb (she is buried with her parents after an Odysee through Italian graveyards, military captivity and a villa of her husband) I went to her museum in one of the most expensive parts, where the kioskos sell bottles of champagne instead of cans of beer. The museum is a neat place with some old stuff she owned and more interesting video-material. But not exactly a must-see of Buenos Aires.

Back in the hostel I started to get ready for my own leaving and then accompanied the French-German girl to her flight-company. She had troubles getting a new flight and wanted an English-interpreter, just to be sure. First it seemed she not only would have to wait until the 29th, but also have to pay for changing her flight (although her first one was cancelled and she had been promised the free change by a ‘Natascha’ at the airport), but after a while everything seemed to work out. She has to go to the airport on Thursday and will get a flight on the same day. Hopefully.

And the moral of the story: Do not book AirComet!

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