Who Am I?
After two years working in the Middle East I have money in the bank and itchy feet. I'm on a mission to visit every continent in the world and experience as much as possible while I am there.
An adventure to the frozen continent
I was up early again today and decided that I would buy a ticket for the Buenos Aires hop-on/hop-off bus and see some of the major city sights. I made my way back to the Plaza de Mayo on the subway and walked up to the ticket stand, where I found a long line of other tourists taking advantage of the beautiful weather and buying a ticket for the bus. After about 30 minutes waiting in line I finally purchased my ticket, however I was required to wait for 1 ½ hours before I could get on due to overwhelming demand.
As it was already noon I decided to walk along Calle Florida and find somewhere to have some lunch and kill some time. Florida Street is one of the major shopping streets in the city centre and has been closed to cars to allow space for the large number of pedestrians on the strip. While the street is lined by shops it is probably most notable for the market of wares placed out on sheets in the middle of the cobblestone street. The items for sale range from hand-made jewellery to mate vessels, handbags, toys and art. As it is located in the centre of the city and a major tourist destination, the “market” prices would exploit that position so I decided not to indulge in any of its wares. After picking up some lunch at the local McDonald’s I headed back to the bus stop to wait for my allotted time to get on.
The bus trip was enjoyable and I got to see a number of iconic places in the city including Parque Colon, Congresso, the La Boca district and Puerto Madero. By far the most interesting was the La Boca district with its brightly painted buildings and its football-mad inhabitants. This district is the location of the Boca Juniors football stadium, the largest and most successful team in Argentina.
I got off the bus at Puerto Madero because it was 3pm and I wanted to head back to the Plaza de Mayo to see the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. The story is that they are the mothers of young men and women who “disappeared” without a trace during the military dictatorship of 1976-83. These desaparecidos were young people who were considered political activists against the current regime of the time and were abducted and held in detention camps to be tortured and killed. The mothers began gathering in the Plaza de Mayo from 1977 to draw attention to the loss of their family members and they held a constant weekly vigil ever since. Subsequent governments have acknowledged the disappearances but the Madres continue to gather at the Plaza every Thursday to pursue other social causes. They can be recognised by the trademark white head scarves that they wear over their hair.
After watching the Madres I walked back to Puerto Madero to get back on the bus. After waiting around for over an hour a bus finally arrived but only five people got off, meaning only five of the 20 people waiting at the bus stop could get back on. By now it was 5pm and no one was willing to get off the bus because it would be too late to get back on again. This annoyed me because I missed out on seeing half of the route but I was tired and sunburned from standing in the sun for so long that I decided to cut my losses and walk back to the Plaza and catch the train home.
I noticed upon exiting the subway station at Acoyte that a number of people were milling around the street corner in front of my apartment. As soon as I had reached my level I heard the sound of drums beating away in the street below. Out of curiosity I went back down stairs to have a sticky beak at the demonstration that had developed outside. As far as demonstrations go it was most entertaining one I had seen before. A group of people were drumming and dancing around in the street for a good 20 minutes before someone took to the microphone and ranted for a bit. Ana informed us later that it was about the community’s discontentment with recent development of the area. After about an hour the whole thing was over and everyone went back to their evening entertainment.
Today I had truly worn myself out and needed no encouragement to head to bed at a reasonable hour. I think I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow.