After our adventures in the Bariloche area we flew back to Buenos Aires, this time landing at the downtown airport used for internal flights. We were met by our intrepid guide Maria Irma. She was as memorable as anything we saw during our stay in the area. As an example of her commitment to service, I had a notion of buying some gaucho tack during our stay. She unsuccessfully called numerous tack shops in Buenos Aires in an attempt to find some traditional equipment. The only place it could be had was out in the ranching areas. The city folks gravitated to the traditional English style of equipment.


Buenos Aires Casa Rosada

One of the iconic sights in Buenos Aires is the Pink House or Casa Rosada. It is not the equivalent to our White House because it is not the president's residence. It is dedicated to government offices. The balcony to the left of the building is where Evita Peron and others would make their rallying speeches while the Plaza de Mayo was filled with supporters.

The movie Evita was filmed on location here, not without some controversy.


Pigeon Food Vendor

This enterprising lady had set up a small business on the plaza selling bags of corn that could be used to feed the many pigeons. One of her clients is in residence!

We have since been back to Buenos Aires, but this extensive plaza is no longer truly open to the public. At last visit in 2010 it was sealed behind chain-link fencing and used only on special occasions with major security. A great pity.


Plaza de Mayo

Looking in the opposite direction from the Pink House, there are some painted memorials to the disappeared, who were victims of Argentina's last century military junta.

Beginning in 1977 two organizations arose. One washe Madres de Plaza de Mayo, mothers who protested the arrest and subsequent disappearance of their dissident children.


Headscarf

The other was the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, grandmothers who sought to locate the children of the disappeared, who had also vanished into adoptive homes.

Although some of the military leaders were later convicted, most were not and the cover-up was covered up. I wonder if the limitation of access to the plaza is part of an ongoing process.

Recently one of the former dictators admitted that the disappearances happened, but minimized the numbers and stated that they were legitimate acts of war.

The white headscarf is the insignia of the mothers.


Barrio La Boca

The La Boca neighborhood near the old port was once the home of workers who maintained the ships. They used leftover steel panels to build the houses and leftover paint to decorate them. Nowadays the area is an artists' colony (and tourist trap).

When we visited Buenos Aires in the summer some years later, the area was crowded with tourists, buskers and sidewalk vendors.


Mary Ellena and Friend

Another day we made an excursion to the Estancia Santa Susana, a working ranch with a thriving tourist sideline.

Penny and I gravitated immediately to the horses. This handsome fellow is a Criollo, the native Argentine horse. The horses we rode outside Bariloche were also Criollos.


Criollo horses

At the ranch the horses are organized in color groupings: dun, bay, roan, etc. and led by a mare wearing a bell. Watching the gaucho wranglers work each troop from horseback was fascinating.

Argentine Thoroughbreds are highly sought after in this country for polo mounts. As are the Argentine riders!


Horseback

The ranch had several saddled horses for us tourists to sit on. The "saddles" are quite interesting and unlike anything else I've seen. They are composed of several layers of blankets and rigid materials, what we would call a "tree" covered with a sheepskin and all strapped down. It was quite comfortable for the rider; I don't know about the horse.

The bridles and reins are handmade from horse skin leather. As noted above I was unable to find any for sale.


Gaucho dance

Later that afternoon we had a barbecue dinner and a show featuring gaucho and other folkloric dancing as well as the tango.

The presentation included a detailed description of all the elements of the traditional dress and weapons. They told us that the loose trousers were common, although apparently a later introduction, as was the white shirt & scarf. The hat varies from the wide-brimmed hat pictured to a beret or Basque-style hat. The wide belt is covered with coins. Apparently this was how the gaucho carried his bank account.

Note the two bolas – one in each hand. These had an active part in the dance. It was hard to see how he didn't brain himself with them. You can see the look of intense concentration. The link above contains some videos that demonstrate this dance.

When we visited Argentina again eight years later, the trip included another visit to Santa Susana where we found this same dancer still performing!


TangoOf course no demonstration would be complete if it omitted the tango, which has been placed on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List (the video at the link is mostly music and other stuff rather than dancing – go figure). We also visited a tango demonstration in Buenos Aires one night. It illustrated many different styles and included a presentation on the history of the dance. The information on the history web site is pretty well aligned with what we were told.


Colonia Uruguay

One day we loaded onto an enormous catamaran ferry for a trip across the Rio de la Plata to Colonia, Uruguay. Fellow PVSer Jacques Hadler, now deceased, was a naval architect. At the time he was in the process of doing a study of wake characteristics of various hull designs and was fascinated by the ferry and some of the design blueprints that were posted throughout the waiting room. Unfortunately he couldn't talk his way into the engine room for a demonstration.


Colonia map

This is rather different than the standard "You are here" sign in the shopping mall!

This map of Colonia made of decorated tile dates from 1767.


Colonia street

A cobbled street in the historic district. Over the years the town changed hands from Spanish to Portuguese and back again many times. As a result there are structures from different traditions. We were told that the gable-roofed buildings were Portuguese and the flat-roofed buildings were Spanish. Both types can be seen here. In some cases, older Portuguese houses had an upper story added in the Spanish style.

Colonia was a fascinating place. I'm sorry that we didn't have more time to spend there and that I don't have more pictures of it.

After returning to Buenos Aires, we prepared to leave for our visit to Iguazú Falls.


Click your "back" button to return to the previous page or click for our picture album.