04 July 2008
Cementerio de la Recoleta
Argentines love their corpses, and none more so than that of Eva Perón. Perón was thirty three at the time of her death from cancer in 1952. Her husband, President Juan Perón, had her embalmed so thoroughly and artistically that her corpse could be displayed to the public permanently, just like Lenin's. Things didn't work out as planned. Perón was overthrown in a military coup a couple of years later, and Eva's body vanished for sixteen years. When it finally surfaced, Juan Perón kept Eva's body in his home, where his subsequent wife, Isabel, brushed the corpse's hair every day. When Perón died, Isabel buried Eva's body in her family's tomb in Cementerio de la Recoleta. The Recoleta Cemetery looks like a small city. The tombs, which all look different, sit side-by side in streets and alleys like a Manhattan neighborhood in miniature. Some of them look like mansions, carved from marble with elaborate detail. Others look like rundown brick shacks where a troll might live. The Duarte family's tomb is somewhere in the middle. It's well-maintained, but in no way ostentatious. The cemetery's other residents are... cats. It's a recurring theme here in Buenos Aires. The cats are friendly and well-cared for, and they're absolutely everywhere. Some of them seem to stand guard in front of some particular tomb, as though it's home.
After we toured the cemetery, we walked around the neighborhood a bit and then hailed a taxi to El Establo. Margaret's El Establo. This time, we wrote down the address. The palmitos were as to die for as Margaret described, and the waiter, who absolutely charmed us, demonstrated how tender our meat was by cutting it cleanly with a fork and spoon! One thing Margaret didn't mention was the french fries. The "papas fritas" at El Establo were the best fries we've ever had-- far better, even, than any frite we ate in Belgium. We often order more than we want to eat just to try different things, but we finished every bite at El Establo. We actually split the last fry on principle. As we finished up our Malbec, the waiter brought us a couple of shots of limoncello, gratis. Then a couple more. We left the restaurant, and wandered up Calle Florida to peek into store windows and walk off lunch.
Tonight, we'll be asleep by 10PM. Tomorrow morning, we'll be up by 4:30AM to catch a plane to Iguazu Falls.