Chris' (Previous) Daily Journal
February 23, Buenos Aires, Argentina
We decided to learn more about Evita “Eva” Peron since she is such a dominating figure here. Argentineans either revere her or detest her. But, as one person told us, “she had a major impact on our history, so her legacy will always be here”.
We first went by the government building where she gave her final speech, before dying of uterine cancer at the age of 33. The government building is called the “pink house”, due to its color.
Eva was a champion of the poor – especially women, probably due to her upbringing by a single mother of five.
We visited the Evita Peron museum which contains pictures and props depicting her life plus interesting film clips from her various speeches, visits and appearances. The museum is housed in a mansion, originally owned by the Carabassa family of Buenos Aires. In 1948, the Eva Peron Foundation purchased the home and designated it as a shelter for women and children. It opened as a museum in 2002.
Perhaps one of Eva’s most important and famous accomplishments was in giving women the right to vote.
Every citizen in Argentina is required by law to vote. It’s compulsory. The most interesting thing about their voting system is that women’s and men’s ballots are separated. After voting, their ballots are placed in a box, depending on gender. That wouldn’t be “politically correct” in the U.S.
From the museum we went to the Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva and her family have a mausoleum. Interestingly enough, Juan Peron is buried in a different cemetery in Buenos Aires.
The Recoleta Cemetery is a giant walled cemetery with hundreds of crypts and mausoleums containing the remains of the city’s wealthiest families. The architecture is diverse – ranging from Neoclassical, Neogothic, Art Nuevo, Art Deco and modern. There are over 6,400 mausoleums within the walls. It’s laid out like a little city. There are street names on every corner and narrow streets between the mausoleums. The walls of the mausoleums touch each other and the fronts of them have various adornments – carvings of angles, stained glass windows, plaques with the names of the deceased. One could spend an entire day here and not see everything.
We asked our guide about purchasing homes, as we saw many “vende” signs. To purchase a home is much different than what we are used to doing in the U.S. There are no mortgages in Argentina. When someone is ready to purchase a home, they must have the complete purchase price. Most people who live in cities buy apartments or condominiums. There are very few single family homes in the city.
An apartment or condo in the upper middle class area of Buenos Aires will pay between $2,000 and $2,500 per square meter (nine square feet). So, a 2,000 square foot apartment or condo, at $2,500 per square meter, will cost around $550,000. Our guide told us that all home prices are listed in U.S. dollars versus Argentinean pesos.
We needed to pick up some additional insect repellent, so went into a large pharmacy. They had what we needed. Paying for it was quite the experience. First, the salesperson who found it for us put it into a locked cloth bag. We took the bag to the cashier, who took it out of the bag, collected our money and gave us a receipt. We took the receipt to the next counter, where a young woman retrieved our receipt, put the spray in a plastic bag and handed it over. Quite a long process to buy one can of bug spray for $4.00.
It was an interesting and educational day. In learning about Eva, we learned a lot about the politics and Argentinean government.
Tomorrow, we will be in Montevideo, Uruguay, the largest city, the capital, and the chief port of the country.
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