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Month: November 2009

357. the big wake-up

Mark Coggins, August Riordan series

What if Evita is not in Recoleta Cemetery? What if she is actually in the Bay Area?

That’s the premise behind author Mark Coggins‘ latest book in the August Riordan series. San Francisco-based private investigator Riordan witnesses the tragic death of a beautiful university student from Buenos Aires & is drawn into a mad hunt for Evita’s remains. Mark’s promo sheet goes on to say:

He needs all of his wits, his network of friends and associates, and an unexpected legacy from the dead father he has never known to help him survive the deadly intrigue between powerful Argentine movers and shakers, ex-military men, and a mysterious woman named Isis who is expert in ancient techniques of mummification.

How could you not want to read a book like that? To be honest, it’s surprising no one has done this before given Eva’s bizarre post-mortem journey. The story would make for a great movie too. Mark was nice enough to send me a pre-release copy where I found the following:

Big Wake-Up, authors note

The genesis of this book came from a tour I took of la Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Christmas morning, 2007. My tour guide was Robert Wright and he inspired me not only with stories of Evita Perón and her macabre odyssey, but with the accompanying stories of the politicians and military men buried in the cemetery who were responsible for, and participated in, the bizarre machinations behind it. Robert has a blog about the cemetery, which is well worth visiting if you are interested in more information about Recoleta.

Makes me wish I was still doing tours of the cemetery 🙂 In the few spare moments I’ve had since returning to Buenos Aires one month ago, I’ve read the book & can definitely recommend it. The character of August Riordan is textbook PI, & Coggins deftly takes the reader into his underground world. Check it out!

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356. agustín zamboni

Agustín Zamboni, Recoleta Cemetery

Born in Italy in 1883, Agustín Zamboni studied in Milan & accepted a position as CEO of the government-owned electric company in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1907. Eight years later, he crossed the river & occupied the same position for the Compañí­a Italo-Argentina de Electricidad (CIAE). When CIAE President Juan Carosio died in 1959, Zamboni took over that post as well. In 1964 he renounced the position of CEO but remained president of the company until his death in 1969.

Agustín Zamboni, Recoleta Cemetery

The largest electric company in town left a unique mark on Buenos Aires; they covered their substations with a bit of medieval Italy… large & small brick castles dot most neighborhoods, usually stuck in between houses or silently disintegrating while people walk by unaware they exist.

CIAE, Puerto Madero

CIAE, Usina de la Música, La Boca

Buenos Aires went electric in 1887 thanks to a German company (CATE), but their monopoly was broken by the CIAE in 1914. The Swiss-Italian joint venture had a concession until 1962, but a lot happened during that time. Other companies came & went, its contract was extended, & neither Perón nor Frondizi nationalized them, but Isabel started the process. Incorporated into SEGBA in 1978, the remaining CIAE structures were donated to the city government in 1987. The generator situated in Puerto Nuevo —the largest of them all— passed into private hands in 1992.

CIAE, Puerto Nuevo

For further information, read a 12-part series about the history of the CIAE on our sister site, Endless Mile.


355. alfonsín, finally home ◊

Raúl Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery

After the death of ex-President Raúl Alfonsín on March 31st of this year, he was temporarily laid to rest in a pantheon dedicated to victims of the 1890 Revolution. That conflict gave birth to the Unión Cívica Radical, Alfonsín’s political party.

In the meantime, a site previously belonging to French nuns had been purchased for Alfonsín. The old was demolished & the ceremony for the new  took place October 30th, the same day Alfonsín was elected in 1983. A bust of the former President by sculptor Luciano Garbati was officially revealed by family members & leading politicians of the UCR. Vice-President Julio Cobos spoke about political reform as did UCR leader, Gerardo Morales.

Raúl Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery

Raúl Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery

Many people claim that the bust does not resemble Alfonsín, but supposedly the sculptor used an older photograph —therefore a younger image of Alfonsín— as his model. In fact, it is the same image found on a commemorative stamp issued in May.

Raúl Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery

Correo Argentino, Alfonsín

Update: In January 2016 Alfonsín’s wife, First Lady María Lorenza Barreneche Iriarte, passed away. She was cremated in Chacarita Cemetery & her ashes brought here to rest in peace.

Press photos above from momento24 & La Nación.

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354. in the city of the dead

The Nose

More press for AfterLife… yea!

Editor Hernán Cortiñas contacted me & Marcelo a few months ago about an article for the November/December edition of The Nose. It hit the press recently, & we couldn’t be more pleased. The Nose promises to deliver “Buenos Aires in a different sense” & they certainly do.

As a free bi-monthly publication in tabloid format, issues focus on explaining more than just BA basics, give visitors insider tips not found in any guidebook, & present it all with a fantastic, modern design. Be sure to grab a copy & learn something new about the city.

Below are a couple pics from the current issue, including the article about Recoleta Cemetery:

The Nose

The Nose

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353. familia del valle

Familia del Valle, Recoleta Cemetery

Although neglected today, the Familia del Valle tomb is the final resting place of one of Argentina’s most important sculptors 100 years ago, Victor de Pol. He’s here because in 1910 de Pol married Asimilda del Valle… great-niece of politician Aristóbulo del Valle.

Victor de Pol, Recoleta Cemetery

Born in Venice in 1865, Victor de Pol emigrated to Argentina in 1887 at the age of 22. Having already studied art in his home town, Florence & Rome, de Pol won several awards & was recommended personally by his last teacher, Giulio Monteverde… responsible for the crucifixion statue in the cemetery chapel & professor to Dolores “Lola” Mora.

The city of La Plata —newly founded capital of the Provincia de Buenos Aires— hired de Pol to add a little beauty to Pedro Benoit‘s elegant urban design. De Pol is responsible for figures on the Palacio Legislativo, a few reliefs, sculptures of the indigenous people held captive in the Natural History museum (!), busts of 12 important scientists & the saber-toothed tigers guarding the museum entrance:

Museo, La Plata

Museo, La Plata

Museo, La Plata

While President Sarmiento was still alive, de Pol had been invited to sculpt a bust —his official image of sorts. So when Sarmiento died in 1888, de Pol was also commissioned to design his tomb in Recoleta Cemetery, topped with a condor:

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Recoleta Cemetery

De Pol returned to Buenos Aires after a five-year stay in Europe & opened a studio in what is now known as Galerías Pacífico. From there he designed works to be placed over the entire nation as well as the fantastic tomb of Archbishop León Federico Aneiros, kneeling in prayer in the Catedral Metropolitana:

Catedral Metropolitana, Buenos Aires

Catedral Metropolitana, Buenos Aires

Victor de Pol’s most important work is admired by thousands of people daily, the quadriga placed top & center on the National Congress. Traditionally used by Roman generals when entering a conquered city, the horse-drawn carriage takes on new meaning as Liberty holds the reins. It’s a symbol found everywhere from the Arc de Triomphe to Brandenburg Gate… of course, Buenos Aires needed its own:

Congreso Nacional, Buenos Aires

Museo de La Plata photos courtesy of Marcelo Metayer.