We braved the rain to see the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s equivalent of the White House. Like bad Americans, we bought Starbucks on the way there since we woke up too late to get breakfast at the hostel.
The Plaza De Mayo (which sits in front of the Casa Rosada) was full of protest signs and police in black jackets, but there didn’t seem to be any rioting or real protesting going on in the square. Generally on Thursdays, the Mother’s of the Plaza De Mayo march in memory of the children lost during the dictatorship, but because of the rain, they weren’t out when we visited.
We were able to walk around the national bank, and Maureen was surprised that they had an art exhibit in the main lobby.
Cathedral; Life Sized Pope Doll
Afterwards we visited the Cathedral – also off the plaza. We walked in unexpectedly on a small mass with choir and all. We kept the pictures to a minimum so as not to horribly disturb those doing their pew time. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jose de San Martin is buried in the Cathedral. San Martin is a famous champion of South American independence from Spain (akin to our George Washington). San Martin liberated Argentina then took all his troops and in an amazing military feat crossed the Andes mountains, going on to liberate Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.
San Martin’s Tomb
Continuing with our theme of liberation, we visited the Corner of Light, where the first Argentine congress declared independence and drafted a constitution. I got in trouble for taking pictures inside.
Illegal Pictures inside the Corner of Light
We wandered around the down town area after our tour of the plaza and were asked multiple times (in English) to exchange our money by men on the street. According to my friend Lola who studied in Argentina the semester before we were in Chile, it’s impossible to get US dollars in Argentina, so some people exchange Argentine pesos for US dollars on the street for a higher rate just to get their hands on the dollar. We did not swap our money on the street (because knowing my luck I would get the one exchange dude who was an undercover cop), but thought it was interesting that every single one of them could spot us as US citizens on sight.
We tried Mate that night, which is a very popular type of tea in South America. I am an avid coffee drinker, and my body is used to high levels of caffeine. However, we did not realize how much caffeine is in mate. After about four small tea cups, we were both jittering and rigidly awake. Apparently, mate is the crack of all caffeinated beverages.