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The Memorial

 

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by in Travel
January 23, 2013

Diego led me through another park as the sun set behind the colonial structures of the Argentinian legislature. As a first timer in what is commonly thought of as a developing country I must say I was impressed by the capital city of Buenos Aires. I had imagined the streets would be narrow and packed with traffic, chaotic like in India. I was pleasantly surprised to see large, wide roads with moderate traffic following lane discipline. Clean sidewalks led us safely away from the roads and over footbridges to vast open parks peppered across the city. Cobbled pedestrian streets interspersed the tarred vehicle roads, sporting street vendors and sidewalk cafes. The high end and fancy restaurants clung to the quays near the waterfront with the backdrop of tall buildings, while in the center you could find older buildings with Spanish and Italian architecture.

Fused in with the quaint, colonial architecture was modern technology. The subway trains were state of the art. Buses connected the areas untouched by the subway, and if public transportation wasn’t your thing the taxis could take you around for a fraction of the price you would find in most other countries. Not to mention, the cab drivers were a lot friendlier and less likely to rip you off or get you killed in an accident.

The most impressive part was the people. I was always greeted with a warm smile everywhere I went. Unlike what I’d read online, I wasn’t the target of con artists and muggers. I carried with me a large $1000 Canon DSLR camera and no one had tried to snatch it away from me so far.

I spotted a large statue looming ahead and we paused as I took my camera out and shot some pictures.

“This is a memorial to all the soldiers who fell during the Falkland Islands war.” Diego explained. “You can see the names of every soldier who sacrificed his life engraved in the tablet over there.” He pointed to a set of markings on a marble platform beyond the statue. There was a massive flagpole right in front of the platform with the Argentinian flag flying high, and beside it I could see a fountain. The fountain looked out of place with the ancient memorial and flag. It was made of gleaming metal but didn’t seem to be functioning at the moment.

“We’re actually just in time to see the flag changed and the burning of the fire.” Diego pointed at a group of men dressed in military uniform walking towards the flag. They carried a folded flag with them. By this time a fair number of people had gathered near the memorial. We watched as they lowered the flag on the pole, folded it, and replaced it with the one they had been carrying.

“Watch this! This is the best part!” Diego was brimming with excitement. I saw two soldiers moving towards the strange metal fountain. And as the sun set beyond them my eyes opened wide and my jaw hung low as a tower of fire burst up from the fountain.

Darkness enveloped the park but the fountain of fire cast its orange light over the circle around the memorial, throwing flickering shadows on our faces. No one moved, no one made a sound. I’ll remember that moment forever, a moment where time itself stopped and stood still with us as we paid our respects to those who had given their lives in war in the orange light of a solar fountain.

Solar Fountain

 

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