Our guide for the day was Nestor, who picked us up at 0930h. Our itinerary included San Isidro, the Tigre Delta, and a visit to the Recoleta cemetery.
We began in the beautiful city of San Isidro, which is an affluent part of greater Buenos Aires. The centre of the city has cobbled streets and large mansions, some of which have now been modified into hotels. We walked by the former hone of Luis Verner, the governor of the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) from 1829 to 1831. The original home is gone but a replica has been rebuilt.
There is a large neo-gothic style cathedral, built in the 1890s with materials shipped from England.
Then we drove to the own of Tigre, which is north of Buenos Aires. A former casino is now an art museum. The city got its name from the first settlers, who thought that the jaguars they saw were tigers. There are no tigers here, but the municipality still uses a tiger as its symbol, although I think it looks more like a jaguar.
Our destination was a cruise through the huge delta of the Parana river. This has become a place for weekend getaways from the city. There are waterparks and amusement areas for all. A former fruit port is now an artisan market. We rode for about an hour, looking at many summer homes. There are rowing clubs along the river, and rowers jostled for space with motorboats. One house is completely enclosed in a glass box to protect it from the humidity. Although the water is brown, it is not contaminated – just filled with sediment that is washed in from upstream. The delta grows by about 100 meters per year.
After we enjoyed lunch by the river, we drove back to Buenos Aires and had a tour of the famous Recoleta Cemetery. It was built in 1822, in response to the church not allowing people to be buried inside the church walls. They decided that they could build their own private churches, and there are over 6400 mausoleums in the 200 x 200 meter plot. It is like walking through a city entirely made of little churches. There are up to 6 subterranean layers of coffins in some of the tombs. Although most people buried here are Catholic, there are a few Jews and Protestants.
There is no end to the fascinating stories that are associated with some of the graves.
1. Eva Peron – perhaps the most famous person here
2. Dorrego-Ortiz Basualdo – from a wealthy land-owning family. One of the largest structures
3. Rufina Cambaceres – she was a young (19) woman who apparently suffered an attack of catalepsy, which rendered her immobile and with decreased vital signs. She was pronounced dead. Several days later, before her final burial, her coffin was opened and it was discovered that she had tried to scratch her way out of the coffin. Her mausoleum has a statue of her holding the door, as if to ask to be let out.
4. Admiral Guillermo (William) Brown is one of the heroes of Argentina. He was an admiral who founded the Argentine navy. His tomb is painted green in honour of his Irish heritage.
5. Liliana Crociati de Szaszak – died in an avalanche in Austria in 1970. Her statue shows her in her wedding dress, beside her beloved dog. The nose of the dog is rubbed shiny as people touch it for good luck. Her grave has a re-creation of her bedroom underground complete with a bed and pictures on the wall.
6. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento – 7th president of Argentina. His mausoleum is huge and has many Masonic symbols