Published: May 14th 2008April 13th 2008
One of the most exciting things about a vacation is the anticipation of the adventures to come, and sometimes (as was my situation), the excitement of being reunited with loved ones. Six months ago I purchased my plane ticket from Osaka, Japan to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and for the last six months counted down until my long overdue family vacation. I started counting down by months, then I changed it to weeks, and as time grew even closer, I started to count down the days. 50 days.... 35 days.... 19 days.... 8 days.... less than one week!.... 2 days... and finally, the day arrived - April 12th, the day I embarked on a 32.5 hour journey to meet up with my family. The trip was long, and anything but comfortable, but being reunited with my family members in BA made every leg cramp, crappy airplane meal, and sleepless hour worth it. Our Argentine adventure had finally begun!
Sticking to tradition, there was no rest for anyone on our first day. We dropped off my bags at the hotel, ate lunch, and spent the afternoon at a welcome party with 50 or so members from my mom's side of the family.
After an 8-year absence from Argentina, it was really nice to see everyone again, especially Silvia, and my great aunts Lillian and Ivy.
The next three days we spent exploring Buenos Aires with my mom's cousin Silvia. We toured (by car) through beautiful parks around the city (stopping for pictures at Teatro Colon, the Obelisk, etc.), posed for pictures at Casa Rosada (the "pink house"), ran from pigeons in Plaza de Mayo, wandered in San Isidro, watched tango on Avenida Florida, shopped in Galleria Pacifico, and dined in Puerto Madero. We walked our feet off during the day, and slept soundly at night. As exhausting as it was, I loved every minute of it! Argentina is filled with such passion. When people are in love, they show it; when they are angry, they shout; people still view mealtime as an opportunity to socialize with friends and family, and.... they know how to party!!
On our 5th day, Thursday the 17th, we were graced by the presence of my great aunt Ivy. I use the words "graced by" when referring to Ivy because anyone lucky enough to meet her is just that. She is an amazing 87-year-old who can
The Rose of Buenos Aires
The huge "Rose of Buenos Aires" is about the size of 2 or 3 cars put together, and is open during day, but closes at night. Our driver made a point of letting us know that the citizens of BA are not quite as interested in it as the tourists, as it costs them tens of thousands of dollars each year in repairs! Pretty though!
make you fall off your chair laughing if she tells you one of her many life experiences (which is quite likely as she never stops talking... but it is a good thing!), and she will have you stopping to catch your breath if you dare to join her on one of her power walks through the city. She is full of life and loves to shock and surprise anyone in her presence. So... our day with Ivy began as I knew it would - with a visit to her family's mausoleum in Recoleta Cemetery. From the day she invited us, I had a bet with my brother. I guaranteed him that although Recoleta was one of the most famous (and posh) cemeteries in the country, we would not be visiting the resting places of any celebrities or famous dignitaries until AFTER we had seen Ivy's family's. Sure enough, as soon as we walked through the grand entry, we b-lined straight for it!
"And there's my dear Frank," she says to us as she points through the beautiful windows. "One day I will join him, but I am not quite ready yet." She pauses, "You can't be afraid of death
Obelisco de Buenos Aires
Built in 1936, the Obelisk of Buenos Aires is 67 meters tall, with a base area of 49 square meters. It is one of Buenos Aires main icons and it represents the founding of the city.
you know, we will all die one day." ...Lesson learned. Our next stop was at Eva Peron's (Evita's) mausoleum. It has a few roses hanging from the bars, and there are other tourists there taking pictures. "Evita's body was not always here you know." Ivy leans in. "After her death they hid her body for years. Too many people wanted to mutilate it. ... I don't care," she says. "We never liked her." And there it is, the truth that was never represented in the Hollywood movie. The side of Eva and Peron which stole money from, and harmed
the wealthy, to give to the less fortunate. The reason many hard-working and successful families feared their government. The reason my mom is now Canadian.
Moving on we learned of the great Argentine boxer Luis Angel Firpo who was cheated out of one of his most important wins; of Liliana, a young girl who died tragically on her honeymoon with only her dog at her side; and of numerous others. We walked up and down the lanes between mausoleums, peering in through windows until we felt we had seen it all (including a random femur which had fallen out of
Family Reunion :)
From the right: My mom, great aunt Ivy, great aunt Lillian, and I. My aunts may be 87 and 95, but they sure can steal the show when they start talking. Both of them have done absolutely amazing (and hilarious) things throughout their lives! I can only hope to be as healthy and happy when I reach their age.
an old casket!). Once our curiosity had been satisfied we moved to the adjoining church and spent some time admiring the historic paintings which adorned the inner walls. It is a great thing to be on holidays knowing that your sole mission of each day is to take your time and enjoy your surroundings! Our next stop was to refuel at the majestic Alvear Palace with delicious coffee.... and unlimited cookies!! (Dream come true for me!) Sitting in the elegant Lobby Bar of the Alvear, I knew that we were in a very nice hotel, but it was not until after I returned to Japan that I learned it is one of South America's most luxurious, and is 1 of 1000 worldwide locations to visit in "1,000 Places to See Before You Die." (Very exciting for me, as the book has become a bit of a personal checklist.)
Later that evening, as we sat around a large antique table in the beautiful home of the Nolazco's, we feasted on dulce de leche
cakes and cookies and enjoyed musical performances by their 6 talented children. It was a wonderful evening, and meeting the "Argentine Brady Bunch" (as we teasingly nicknamed
The old buildings downtown BA make it a beautiful city to walk around.
this lovely family) was such a nice reminder of how happy families can be. Although my brother and I are not so musically gifted, and do not burst into song regularly, the evening still made me long to be back in Canada for special dinners and gatherings with my family. Still to come:
- "Guacho Hunting in the Pampas" (Our trip to San Antonio de Areco)
- "Milkbone Milenesas" (Week 2 of our Argentine adventure)
- "The Historic Gem of Uruguay" (Our trip to Colonia) JUST FOR THE RECORDS... Hiroshima, Japan --> Buenos Aires, Argentina 2 hour bullet train to Osaka + 2 hour airport wait + 11 hour flight to San Francisco + 2 hour transit + 4.5 hour flight to Washington + 1 hour transit + 10 hour flight to Buenos Aires = 32.5 HOURS of exhustion!
There are more photos below