A Travellerspoint blog

January 13, 2024

Day 2 in Buenos Aires

sunny 85 °F
View Patagonia and Antarctica on Baroni's travel map.

Today was a fabulous day with bright blue skies and temperatures between 75-85 all day - the sun is intense and I even got a bit of a sunburn on my nose and feet (wearing sandels). The day started out with a bus tour of Buenos Aires with a stop at the white obelisk which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Buenos Aires founding. Then on to Avenida de May and a stop at the Plaza de Mayo with symbols of diapers representing the disappearance of at least 30,000 Argentineans including women and children during the military coupe and dictatorship between 1976-1983. Many children were given to other military families to raise to "save them" from the political left. Most of the adults were university students associated with a political group that was opposed to what was happening in the country. We had an Argentinean exchange student who lived with my family during my senior year in high school who I have lost touch with. Hearing about this difficult period, it made me wonder if she is okay or was part of the "disappearance".

We had about an hour or so with Manuel whose mother was a university student in the mid-1970s and was kidnapped by the military just days after he was born. He feels fortunate that he was able to be raised by his paternal grandparents while his father was in hiding for several years. In 2008 he received a phone call to let him know that his mothers' remains were found in a mass burial ground with evidence that she had been shot at least 7 times. We visited a memorial to the "disappearance" that is a wall with at least 10,000 names and ages of people who had disappeared and their remains identified. During this period, a group called the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo was formed of grandmothers of disappeared children looking to reunite them with their families. The wall has many empty spaces for the names and ages of others who "disappeared" as their remains are identified. It was a very powerdful story and Manuel and most of us, became teary eyed quite a few times!

The photo from the memorial with the quote, "Democracia siempe la unica lucha que se pierde es la que se abandona" translates to something like: "Democracy is the only fight that is lost if it is abandoned"

On the Plaza de Mayo there are tiles of "diapers" that the grandmothers used as head scarfs as they searched for the children. It was quite a heart wrenching story and Manual who brought us to the place on the wall with his mother's name.

After that, we headed out to La Boca which is another neighborhood that is very working class and where the tango was born. Quick lunch sitting outside and then walking around a bit before heading back to the hotel. Caught some great shots of monk parrots that are all over the place, blend into the trees, and make an awful lot of noise!!

This evening was our first home-hosted dinner which Michael and I along with several others from our group had with Teresa in her parent's apartment. She used her parents apartment because the one she lives with her husband and 3 children was much smaller and wouldn't have been able to accommodate us. We met 2 of her three children and learned that she was the youngest of 7 children who lived in this rather large apartment with their parents while growing up. While the apartment was quite large, accommodating 9 people was tight. It was a simple meal starting with a salad, then shepard's pie and dessert but the real treasure of the evening was Teresa who could be easily described as an "energizer bunny". She drinks 2-3 liters of diet coke a day to keep her running but doesn't drink alcohol or engage in any other sort of vices. She says that if she doesn't start off her morning with a coke, she treats her children badly and they tell her to drink coke! I'm attaching a group photo at the end of the blog.

We are back in our hotel room packing for our very early departure at 5:45am for the airport and flight to El Calafate where our real Patagonian adventure will begin. We are a group of 20 and thus far, feels quite compatible. Everyone seems is pretty good shape compared to other OATs trips we have been on which is a good thing since the rest of this adventure will include fairly strenous hikes in various national parks in Patagonia.

We have enjoyed these two days of summer and are fully aware that the rest of the trip may find us cold, wet, with high winds!! Then at the end of this trip, we return to Buenos Aires on January 24th and have several more days of summer before heading back to Ushuaia on January 29th for our Antarctica adventure!

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Posted by Baroni 01:08 Archived in Argentina

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