Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Argentina: dead bodies and drums

Today is our last day in Buenos Aires for two weeks, as we depart on the second stage of our mini Argentinian tour (north-east Argentina only need apply).

We decided yesterday that we would investigate the local cemetery since Wheeze has a not remotely morbid fascination with permanent residences of the dead. We set off through the city and walked forever, only influenced by my mistaken mapreading at one small point, before finally arriving. I´ve never seen a Catholic cemetery before and I have no reason to assume that they´re not all like this: a small town constructed from black marble and white stone, row upon row of tombs dating back to the 1820s. They made up rambling and endless avenues of the dead down which you could lose yourself for hours trying to find Evita´s final resting place . . . and we did. The plots were all owned by hugely rich Buenos Aires families and their plots served to make an example of this. Countless intricately carved angels and weeping women, flat slabs of smooth black granite with modern glass doors like the entrance to a particularly secretive office, crumbling towers and pillars for the oldest which were slowly being reclaimed by the earth like all of the bodies hidden away inside. Some weren´t even hidden. The coffins lined not only the bottomless dugouts underneath the visible opulence and down the darkening stairs but shelves at eye-level, huge, heavy wooden objects with rusting handles and no outward clue as to the state of the contents within.

Last night we went to a fantastic drum show called Bomba de Tiempo which my limited Spanish (and I am slowly discovering quite how limited) translates as "Timebomb". It was a group of guys playing a range of drums, the names of which I am not musically inclined enough to know, with absolute perfect precision and incredible rhythm, not dissimilar to Stomp. It was inside what looked like a warehouse, in some backwater of town with deeply cool people popping in and out, so rather like Shoreditch I suppose. Luckily here deeply cool people were more concerned with the music than their clothes so we were able to slip in largely unnoticed despite our fleeces and walking boots. We ordered beer and I discovered the benefits of the metric system as I was provided with a litre - yes, a litre cup - of Quilmes, the local brew. It was like drinking out of a bucket. I managed it though.

The show started at about 8 and finished at 10pm; phenomenally early by Argentinian standards where it´s suspicious if you eat dinner before 11pm. Emily had been recommended by a friend to pick up a leaflet to the after-party to which we, as girls, would get free entry. It is not the time to argue feminism when AR$30 (GBP4.50) are at stake so we all planned to go but after we´d stopped off at a hideously bad Chinese restaurant - the only place serving food in those lonely streets - we were all too tired. So, defeated by our still considerable jetlag, city-wide trek that afternoon and the strange London custom of eating at 7:30pm, we left and made our pitiful way back to the hostel at approximately 1pm which by Argentinian standards is barely even time to leave the house.

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