Argentina’s Cementerio De La Recoleta-an unusual tourist attraction cemetery
KiNG JAMES YiYE in Buenos Aires | Originally Published June 25, 2013
As I try to check in on a LAN Argentina flight at the EZEIZA International Airport Argentina to Sao Paulo, Brazil from Buenos Aires, the airline staff just informed me my flight has been shifted to the following day, the reason she gives is that, by the time I will arrive Sao Paulo, the South Africa Airways flight to Johannesburg would have been taxing for take-off, so I will certainly miss it. This mistake probably is from my booking agent.
The experience is sweet after all. LAN Argentina has paid for my accommodation and full meals and they put me in a VIP Airport Taxi to the hotel, it is from my hotel room window that I’m seeing this massive area with ancient Church-like buildings, but most of them appear too small for even the smallest size of congregation, so I hurry down the Front Office to find out what these buildings are, “it’s a cemetery; Cementerio de la Recoleta in Spanish and it was built since 1732, you can check it online”, says Tamara, a young beautiful lady who I later learnt is the manager of this hotel.
Back to my room for more snapshots of Cementerio de la Recoleta, and then back to my iPad to check this unusual monument. This cemetery is home to Scientists, Presidents, First Ladies, Priests, Actors, Architects, Journalists and many other VIPs who fought for Argentina’s independence including Eva Perón who was an Argentine political leader and the second wife of President Juan Perón (1895–1974).
One of the things that astonish me about Cementerio de la Recoleta is the fact that it was only remodelled in 1881 but still looks more beautiful and more solid than even Nigeria’s 21st century architecture.
Today, this cemetery has become an unusual monument and a tourist attraction in Recoleta, Buenos Aires.
Details about Cementerio de la Recoleta can be found online when you do a Google search on the ‘recoleta cemetery’ or ‘Cementerio de la Recoleta’ if you understand Spanish.
Puerto Madero is a cool and colourful waterfront or harbour with restaurants, shops, clubs and banks lined up on both sides.
The restaurants here offer mainly Argentine dish, but you must be sure of what you want to eat before placing an order or else, you might end up throwing up!
Food here is not as spicy as what we have in Nigeria. Don’t ask for grilled beef thinking it tastes like suya. I just had a taste of great beef at La Cabana Restaurant, Puerto Madero.
Argentine Culture of Protests
Once you spend up to a week in Buenos Aires, you would have witnessed some form of protest or strike as they call it. I ask Nigeria’s Ambassador to Argentina, Chive Kaave to compare Nigeria to an organized society like Argentina, where you look at taxi cabs for instance, they don’t just have satellite navigation system but of course they have time calculators that you don’t ask a driver ‘how much?’ as done in Nigeria, you just look the display and pay, but here are people who take to the streets talking about inflation and high level of crimes and even unemployment, but again still looking at their currency which is about 4.79 to 5 Pesos to a Dollar compared to 160 Naira to a Dollar in Nigeria, I ask if he thinks Argentines are asking their President Cristina Kirchner for too much?
“Well, you know as a Diplomat, I would simply say that is a matter that is exclusively within their internal affairs, and I don’t want to comment on it, whether it is too much or whether it is too frequent or whatever it is, that is the Argentine society for you”, going on strike he says is part of their culture, “and there are no Police Men who even monitor the strikes, they just go about strikes like it happened yesterday, almost like the entire streets were free of traffic and movement”.
He says for the past 15 years, and since he came, almost every week there is some strike in Buenos Aires.
The City of Buenos Aires has one of the world’s best road networks and everything is working perfectly well. Pedestrians don’t only rely on the traffic lights working for 24 hours without blinking but also on the law abiding drivers, cyclists and other road users. Once the traffic shows RED, the cars almost automatically stop and the pedestrians almost also automatically step on the Zebra crossing. There is order in Buenos Aires, no traffic warden manning traffic lights; there is no need for them.
This is Buenos Aires Monument of unity, a very beautiful and unique looking cone shaped structure standing firm on 9 de Julio Avenue. Most of the protests in the city take place here.
The Argentine architecture I’m told has its roots from the French and British Architects and up to this moment, buildings still take this form.
The Pesos is the legal tender here and it is exchanged at 4.76 Pesos to 1 US Dollar.
Argentine’s perception of Nigeria
Ask most Argentines about Nigeria and you hear; ‘Naheria? Good football’, and some would go on to mention the Kanu Nwankwo squad that defeated them in 1996 during the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.
Most people here speak only Spanish; the official language, but you will most likely find those who speak English especially in public business places like hotels. Technology helps me a great deal in Buenos Aires, I use an application which translates my English to Spanish with sound so I repeat it and hopefully I’m understood when I need to communicate to Spanish only Argentines.