La Recoleta

This post is about to be 100% sobre La Recoleta, one of the most famous cemeteries in THE WORLD. But before I get there –and because cemeteries are a bit…errr…creepy– here are some pictures first (to lighten the mood) of my Fourth of July festivities last night! Enjoy {I know I did!}:

the whole group at the beginning of the night in Plaza Armenia
the whole group at the beginning of the night in Plaza Armenia
lighting sparklers in the plaza
lighting sparklers in the plaza
eating pizza {we had to...it's the "American" thing to do!}
eating pizza {we had to…it’s the “American” thing to do!}
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someone even brought our flag along

 

Today we went to a different part of the city, a neighborhood called La Recoleta –named after the cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1822, and is the first public one in all of Buenos Aires (and, one of the most prominent and beautiful in DA WORLD). It’s this huge above-ground resting ground. It has 4691 vaults…all. ABOVE. ground. This is crazy. As you walk around, you peer into the windows of the mausoleums/crypts/mini pantheons and see wooden coffins (which inside are doubled by metal ones), holding the bodies of those honored. The cemetery’s most “notable” residents include: Carlos Pellegrini (presidente from back in the day), the granddaughter of Napoelon, Luis Leloir (he discovered/created lactose-free!), and…drumroll please…EVA PERON! Known fondly to Argentinians as Evita. Below are some pictures of this amazing site.

 

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As you walk through, you can look above the graves and see the modern city enclosing the entire cemetery. The contrast between the new and the old is really striking. Also, no tombs look alike. Some are more modern (with people buried within the past couple of years) and then there are older ones (like Napoleon’s granddaughter). Also, some are well kept (the tour guide informed us there are daily “housekeeping” services you can hire to come clean the monuments every day) and some are crusty and padded with dirt and dust.

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We were so excited to reach Eva Perón’s resting site. She is such an icon, both in Argentina and worldwide, so it felt very meaningful to see  and pay respects to her mini-pantheon-style mausoleum. If you don’t know much about Eva, you should really go watch the musical, Evita. But I’ll give you a short run-down here…

She’s frequently referred to as Evita, ouf of adoration and affection, by porteños y porteñas. She was born outside of Buenos Aires, but moved here when she was a teenager because she had great dreams of pursuing a glamorous career in the entertainment industry. She was a mega-humanitarian, and at one charity event she met Colonel Perón. They fell in love, got married, and then within the next year, Perón was elected President of Argentina. Throughout her term as First Lady, she became one of the most prominent champion of women’s rights, labor rights, and most powerful voices for the low-income and working class. During (or perhaps due to) her work pioneering these compassionate movements, she fell ill with uterus cancer. She ran for Vice President, but eventually withdrew her candidacy due to her declining health and forceful opposition from the nation’s military. When she was only 33 years old, still so beautiful and with so much love left to share, she passed away. Argentina named her the “spiritual leader of the nation,” gave her a state funeral (usually only hosted for the heads of state), and was deemed by Cristina (incumbent) as a woman that her generation will forever be in debt to for her “passion and combativeness.”

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Oh, and then I was super stoked about all the cats hanging around the graves. This was taken during the time a really important tomb was being described. So, you don’t get the cool background story (since I wasn’t paying attention), but you do get this really cute kitty picture. Good trade-off, I’d say.

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The 2 last photos I posted above were from a very moving grave site. This is the Tomb of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, an Austrian. The tomb looks completely different than the others. The statue’s eyes were so eerie to look into that I couldn’t even take a picture of her. The photo you see above is one that my roommate took, and I later downloaded off her camera. The girl was killed by a snow avalanche that hit her hotel room. Her father,  devastated by her daughter’s death, wrote  a poem that’s etched onto the grave. When the tour guide translated it for us from Italian to Spanish, my eyes began to water. Below is the translation:

To my Daughter

Only I ask myself why
You left and left my heart destroyed
That wanted only you, why?
Why? Only destiny knows the reason, and I ask myself …why?

Because we can’t be without you, why?
You were so beautiful that invidious nature destroyed you. Why?
I only ask myself why, if God exists, does he take away that which is His name.
Because He destroys us and leaves us to an eternity of sadness!

Why? I believe in fate and not in you. Why?
Because I only know that I always dream with you, why is that?
For all the love my heart feels for you.
Why? Why?

Your Papá

I bet there’s not a dry eye after reading that one…so now scroll back up, check out my 4th of July photos again to lift your spirits, and enjoy the rest of your blessed day ~besos~

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