Monday 12 March, 2018
Evita’s Buenos Aires
We had a most entertaining morning tour of Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, with a local actor, Dario, who shared a mine of information and titivating stories. We took off on the impressive de Julio Avenue with its 11 lanes, and headed towards the center town square, Plaza de Mayo. The Metropolitan Cathedral on one corner looks like a state building, while a national building on the opposite corner looks like a church. As we headed into the church, a 6-man uniformed parade came marching in for the changing of the two guards watching over the ornate marble mausoleum of General Jose de San Martin, who freed the South from Spanish rule. His coffin lies at a 45% degree angle with head facing down towards hell because he was too big a sinner. For the same reason, the mausoleum was built onto, not inside the church.
Seeing the Casa Rosada (Rose Palace) and the balcony where Eva Peron used to appear, was quite an emotional one – Dario told us the intriguing story of how Madonna managed to seduce the president into allowing her to appear on that same balcony for the movie. He avoided a political storm by ordering an alternative film to be made about Evita, and forcing local theaters to show that instead.
Although Eva Peron died in 1952, her influence is still deeply felt in this country where even today, inhabitants either love or hate her and her dictator husband, Juan. As the child of an unmarried mother, she came from an impoverished background and spent much of her time fighting for the causes of the poorer classes while snubbing the wealthy. Some people say that it was all an act since she lived a privileged life and her husband was a dictator.
Our final stop was the Recoleta Cemetary. After churches no longer allowed burials inside the building, people built mini chapels inside the cemetery for their families to be buried in. Some of these have beautiful exteriors, stained glass windows, and steps leading down into big rooms underground.
Apparently, Evita’s body was embalmed and on display for many years and subjected to a series of mishaps, amongst others, being hidden from place to place by the new government and abused by a guard, after her husband was ousted from power. Ironically, Juan Peron’s last wife paid for the body to be transported back to its final resting place in the family vault where her name is inscribed as Eva Duarte “Evita” Peron.