Almost 40 years ago a group of mothers gathered in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires to demand information about their children who had been ‘disappeared’. They were not allowed to stand in protest, they had to keep moving so they walked around the plaza. Every Thursday at 3.30pm, they continue that protest, even today. Their symbol is that of a white headscarf, which has become synonymous with any human rights protest in Argentina and further afield. The original mothers are old ladies now and are treated with great respect as they arrive in the plaza, wearing their white headscarves.
This group, which is now two groups, each with a slightly different focus, is supported by a range of local people and by tourists, like us, who feel privileged to be able to show solidarity with these amazing women by walking a little with them. Sharing these images is an important support, too, as their messages still need to be heard in the world.
Note the ‘Casa Rosada’ in the background of some of the pictures. This is the president’s official residence. While the protest has moved on from the 1970s and 80s, there is still an important message here about the opening of record archives so that the fate of the disappeared can be known and those responsible can be brought to justice.
We went from Buenos Aires to the Tigre Delta by train, taking the ‘scenic’ route on the way out. It wasn’t all that scenic so we came back the direct way. Once there, we took a public boat, as opposed to a tour boat trip, and got off at ‘Tres Bocas’, which is a point in the delta where there are three river ‘mouths’ (‘bocas’). Water buses are always great fun, as long as you are prepared to hop off while it all seems a bit unstable. It’s only you that is unstable – everyone else could do it with their eyes closed.
We wandered along a path by a smaller waterway. I don’t know the term for part of a part of a river in a delta. All the houses had their decks built out over the water. These were places to relax, to get in and out of boats and to communicate with neighbours and passing visitors in a range of boat types. A boy of about 10 met us on the path with a handout about his family’s restaurant. Why not? As we sat on the ‘deck’ (that’s not the right word either) he offered us wifi. No thanks. Why would we want to ruin this idyllic lunch by looking at a dev?
Instead we chatted to the boy about his life here, where there is both a primary and secondary school. His grandfather then started a conversation about the peace process in Colombia, as you do when you have a Colombian to lunch. He then invited us to look at their ‘Colombia jacuzzi’. They had planned a holiday in Colombia when they had an offer to build a swimming pool and jacuzzi for the same price. They opted for the latter – hence the name.
It wasn’t quite ready for the tourist season so we didn’t get to have a shot of it this time. Instead we almost fell in the muddy water, saw some woodpeckers and generally had a fascinating walk around the area before, literally, jumping on a boat-bus back to Tigre.
What a way to see Buenos Aires! We took a biking tour on bamboo bikes. The company, Urban Biking, really deserves a shout-out! They have a great concept, are a very eco-conscious company and provided us with a memorable day. Our guide is about to graduate with a degree in history and teaching, so all the information he shared was set in a historical context. We learnt formal and informal things about this city with a complex history.
My favourite story of the day was that of Corina Kavanagh, from Ireland. She was from a wealthy family and, by the 1930s, they had bought a lot of land hereabouts. She had a romance with a young fella who was the son of a local aristocratic family – the Anchorenas. Well, no – that wouldn’t do. The family objected and the romance could not proceed. They didn’t know that you shouldn’t mess with an Irishwoman. The Anchorenas had just built a lovely new church, the basílica del Santísimo Sacramento. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, they say. In 1935 Corina built the tallest building in the city, right in front of the basilica. It is still widely admired but, in order even to see the basilica, you have to go into the private grounds of that Kavanagh building. That’s what I call having a strop!
La Boca was wonderful and deserves a longer visit. Unlike the so-very-white population of most of the rest of the city people here are of a range of heritages and have a diverse and vibrant cultural mix.
If it was ever possible to register for anything on the web in this country, we could register for the Ecocity bikes and have them for free for an hour a time. But doing an
y stuff like that on the web here is impossible – I don’t know why, the connection is ok but you can’t register, or pay, or can fail at any of the stages. No-one disagrees, they just shrug in a South American kind of way.
Buenos Aires looks lovely, even on a rainy day. This old building is across the street from my hotel window and I feel like I am in a movie, just looking at it.
Speaking about looking, you should never look up when walking around this city. If you want to admire the buildings, old or new, you must stop and look up. Otherwise you will surely fall over and break at least one of your limbs. The state of the pavements here makes Bogota’s streets look like a newly-laid child’s playground.
It felt like home to see a collection of dead umbrellas in a bin this morning. The wind was very fierce and it was madness to try to use an umbrella at all, but since when did not stop the umbrella faithful?