OMGPosted: June 7, 2011
Oh Buenos Aires! You wild beast of a city! You so full of impossible juxtapositions! You enormous, monstrous, glorious urban wonderland! Yet again, you have awed and surprised me. You have wooed my bitter heart once more and given it reason to peek out, if for a moment, from its dark, cold hovel. And how, oh sweet city I long to call my own, have you done it? Well, with that singular talent you have for the bizarre.
Buenos Aires is the proud home of one of the strangest places I have ever been: Tierra Santa. You see it pictured above. I was standing, when I took this photo, on top of a plaster and concrete replica (not to scale and of dubious historical accuracy) of Mount Calvary, also on top of which the passion of the Christ is replicated with life-size plastic figures. Yes. Tierra Santa, oh readers of mine, is a Christian-themed amusement park. I shit you not.*
So much incredible kitsch is here that I’m not sure where to begin. The whole park is loosely based on Jerusalem, though homage is paid to all the key Christian locals. Men and women of the cloth get in for free (and I did indeed spot two nuns exiting the park as I entered). Visitors like myself may enjoy the pleasure of witnessing a reenactment of the birth of the savior–not with actual people but with animatronic statues. Wise-men kneel, sheep sway their weary heads and the baby Jesus is lit from behind. A smoke machine is involved. While clearly Christ is the star of the show, there are also life-size replicas of Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther and, strangely, Gandhi. My favorite service, however, is the appropriately ‘ethnic’ foods that are served around Tierra Santa by waiters dressed in period garb. Shawarma, anyone? Or perhaps you’d prefer dining at the Salem Pizzeria?
The biggest, most beloved spectacle is an enormous 40 ft. Jesus rising from the top of the mount every hour, on the hour. People gather in the replicated roman amphitheater below to watch with spiritual abandon. And really it is an astounding, if also astoundingly weird, way to worship.
If you’d like to see a bit more of this odd but glorious human construction, peruse this set of photos.
*I have worked to keep this blog relatively clean but you must here forgive me this expletive because I’m talking about A CHRISTIAN-THEMED AMUSEMENT PARK. What other option did I have?