Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buenos Aires/La Boca

Buenos Aires is the pre-eminent European Capital of the Southern Hemisphere. If you are flown there and do not know where you are, you may think you are in any of the old capitals of western Europe such as Barcelona, Budapest, Milano or Zagreb. The colorful images above and below is of an old area of the city called La Boca. This zone is one of the oldest of the city and it has an a Bohemian air with streets full of artists, peddlers and the ubiquitous pick pockets.

La Boca is mainly a tourist area but if you wander just a couple of blocks away from this zone, you will find yourself in a rundown slum. Wondering as I do, I ventured into this area and soon a passing local accosted me and told to get out because it would not be long before I would be relieved of my camera. Yes, there were threatening looking characters but the photo opportunities were tempting. Fortunately I left with the camera and a few rewarding images as the one below.

As you can see, the color combinations are saturated and well aged. One can spend days in this place and never get tired of the photo opportunities and the propositions. Would you like to tango?

But as in any place, there are friendly characters checking you out wandering " where is this guy coming from?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Iguazu Falls

As I approached the complex of waterfalls that constitute Iguazu Falls, the view above was my first sight, la Garganta del Diablo (The Devil's Throat), the largest of the falls. These falls are located between the countries of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay and its name is derived from the Guarani language meaning "Big Water." It will take two full days to explore and photograph this complex since there are two circuits , a visit to Isla San Martin plus boat rides.
Below are frontal view of the Devil's Throat fall that starts with a small set of stairs and then drops down a 260 feet fall.

My trip to Iguazu Falls completed my visits to the world's major falls that included Niagara Falls, Angel Falls and Victoria Falls. They are all unique with Angel Falls being the tallest but with a lesser volume of water. But the greatest one in Victoria Falls; the extend of falls almost in a straight line fed by the Zambesi River, the noise of the water is louder than the other falls and for this reason is called the "The Smoke that Thunders." And a helicopter ride thru the gorges of Victoria Falls is must do. I would say that Iguazu Falls is probably number Two.

Above is another view of Iguazu's Throat of Devil and below is a view of the waterfall complex looking East away fro the Devil's Throat. The best way to get a good perspective of the extend of these fall is to fly over them.

In addittion to the falls, there is a great abundance of tropical vegetations, birds that you probably never seen before, numerous butterflies and some mammals, the Coatimundis are conditioned to people and they will approach you without fear. The park has well maintained trails and catwalks, excellent eateries and an ecological train for those not wanting to walk.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

La Recoleta

La Recoleta is the most famous cemetery in Buenos Aires where all the famous people of the country are buried. There are other cemeteries in major capitals of the world like those in Paris and Milano where some of the mausoleums are also elaborate works of arts. La Recoleta was founded in 1822 and has 4,800 tombs and a living population of cats asking for affections.
Below is one of the may streets in the necropolis.

Next to the cemetery is the Basilica del Pilar, dating back to 1716 in the Baroque style. The clock seen above the bells is of British origin. It not really a big church so the Basilica connotation is not really appropriate when compared to the original Basilica del Pilar in Saragoza, Spain. Some of the external wall are covered by murals showing panoramic views of Rio la Plata.

The styles of the mausoleums is diverse to meet all tastes and some already customized to meet the most demanding personal requirements. There was one already made for me.

I found the tomb below one of the most impressive with the figures to human size scale. The black marble provides great contrast with the gold halo and the white marble statues.

The mausoleum of Iliana Crocciati de Szaszak was unique. She died in 1970 in Italy victim of a snow avalanche that buried the hotel where she spending her honeymoon. the dog was her favorite pet. The epitaph written by her father is heart breaking but yo will have to go there to read it.

One of the rewards of traveling is the connections that one made among the various places visited. While in Ushuaia early in this trip I visited the prison there that it is now a museum. One of the cells was occupied by Simon Radowitzky, an Ukranian anarchist who assassinated the chief of police in Buenos Aires, Coronel Ramon Falcon, while riding an open carriage. Below is Falcon's burial place. Simon was the only prisoner to escape from the prison in Ushuaia although he was later caught in Chile and returned to the prison. He eventually was released and proceeded to join the Civil War in Spain. Afterwards he migrated to Mexico where he worked in a toy factory until his death in 1956.
And of course, one cannot visit this cemetery without visiting the most famous Argentine personality of the XX century, Isabel Peron. It is is the most visited site in the whole cemetery.