El Primer Día
My Grandfather studied abroad. Except back then it went by different name: WWII. I think my Dad may have visited Canada once. As you can see, I come from a long line of foreign travelers. However, as far as I know, I am the first person from my family to visit South America. Today I first stepped off the plane at Ezeiza national airport greeted by pleasantly cool weather. The jackets and coats I saw were a far cry from the 100 degree-plus weather of North Carolina. However, despite the change in scenery, the fact that I was in a vastly different country from my own did not become apparent until I stepped out of the airport into the streets of Buenos Aires. After checking into our hotel, we embarked on a bus tour throughout the city to get a brief overview of the neighborhoods and their respective vibes. Initially we stopped at La Plaza del Mayo, the political center of Argentina. Surrounded by European-style architecture, the square was rather impressive. Also characteristic of the square were the large groups of protestors, one group (pictured below) was protesting a lack of military pension and recognition for soldiers who were drafted but did not fight in the Falklands War against the UK. In La Boca, milongas advertising tango and shops selling Boca Juniors jerseys lined the streets. While, the colorful buildings attract a touristy crowd, an air of poverty can be seen in the neighborhood. Just behind the main street of El Caminito shantytowns play host to poverty and drug use. Trash littered some sections of the street. La Boca stands in stark contrast to the luxury shopping in Recoleta. The neighborhood features many European style homes with beautiful architecture. It is apparent that this luxury continues even through death upon entrance into the massive Recoleta cemetery. A giant necropolis, alleyways cut through rows of opulent mausoleums celebrating the cities’ rich and powerful. The cemetery’s most famous resident is Eva Peron who, despite her great importance in Argentine history, is buried in a relatively nondescript mausoleum. I definitely want to spend more time in the cemetery, it’s absolutely gorgeous and it would be a pleasure just to get lost in it. I finished the evening with dinner at Filo, an Italian restaurant, and really started getting to know the various people on my program, of which there are 20 or so involved. The food was awesome and a great ending to my first day in BA.