For every adventure, I try to do just the right amount of research. Enough to have a rough sense of the experiences I’d like to have but not too much so that I’m over-scheduled and have no flexibility. To attain a balance of destination knowledge with plenty of opportunities to be wowed. But historical research can be a snoozefest. And we all know how much I love to read. So thankfully, I rely on my pop culture sources to dumb things down for me.
Before delving into Austria, I, of course, had to watch the Sound of Music (if you can believe it, I had never before seen it in its entirety). In Poland, it was a must to sink into Schindler’s List. And for Bali, I would’ve been remiss to skip Eat, Pray, Love. So for Argentina, the clearest of choices was Evita. Yes people. The one with Madonna in it. Where she really shows her acting chops after attempts like Desperately Seeking Susan. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it, actually. An inspiring story. A great cry at the end. And even better historical perspective on Buenos Aires and Argentina at that time. All for research! I’m just gonna say it… She deserved that Golden Globe win, dammit.
But I digress. Evita is an Argentine legend. Her strong, prevailing spirit prominent still around the country. Look up on one of Buenos Aires’s busiest thoroughfares to see a multi-story reminder of her. Walk down a side street and catch a passing glimpse of an honorary Evita bust. Take in her rags-to-riches life story at the Evita Museum. Even after death, her body was preserved for a puzzling amount of time. And while controversy has always seemed to tinge her legacy, there is no doubt that Evita will forever be put on a pedestal here.
Quite like Pope Francis, I’d assume. Growing up in a Buenos Aires suburb, he is truly a hometown hero in these parts. If he’s spoken at this church over here, there’s signage saying so. If he’s spoken at that church over there, there’s signage saying so. If he’s walked into your deli, there’s signage saying so. And you best believe the local San Lorenzo futbol fans make no bones about the fact that their team is the Pope’s team. How can you go wrong with God on your team’s side?
And speaking of God, boy did I get to experience surely one of his greatest honors. Tierra Santa, or Holy Land; the world’s first religious theme park. You heard me right folks. This one I had to see. Seventeen acres of re-created Jerusalem through which to wander. Biblical, animatronic characters depicting important moments and stories. Park employees dressed in robed garb. Gregorian chants piped in for ambiance. Frankincense wafting throughout the grounds. All punctuated by snack stands and the “market” area housing souvenirs. Who knew even ancient Jerusalem had good pizza places? I was in a constantly mixed state of curiosity, disbelief, and hilarity meandering this place. But the pièce de resistance of Tierra Santa is receiving a blessing from an 18 meter tall, animatronic Jesus that makes an hourly appearance from a high rock dwelling seen from anywhere inside the park. Now this is a new one. And certainly one of those aforementioned opportunities to be wowed. And dumbfounded.
These are just a few of Argentina’s glorified icons that I’ve come across. No question delivering stand-out performances in this nation’s history.
And if you haven't had enough Evita, the other side of this building has a more demure image of her.
La Casa Rosada, the executive office of the president of Argentina and where Evita famously addressed the nation from the balcony.
Welcome to Tierra Santa!
Meandering the streets of Jerusalem
Photo ops galore!
Now if this doesn't scream fun...
Turn the volume up for Jesus's jam