Bet you didn’t know that Jesus lives in Buenos Aires? At a Bible themed amusement park dedicated to the life of Christ, you can see it all from the nativity to Jesus rising from the dead–all for only 50 pesos (about $10). I’ve visited some strange theme parks in my day, but Tierra Santa may just take the cake. Located adjacent to Jorge Newbery airport, the ancient vibe (admittedly difficult to achieve with neon clad tourists darting to and fro) becomes even farther removed as planes descend overhead. “Wow” is the word that courses through my head as I wander the park watching tourists wander the stations of the cross, light candles at Mary’s feet and gaze at life sized statues of Jesus from different stories in the New Testament. I see camera toting nuns flock to scenes of the Wailing Wall and Jesus condemning the money changers at the temple. Placid faced camels, donkeys and sheep stand around amidst plastic palm trees, waiting to be photographed with smiling (or screaming) children. I certainly don’t want to detract from any religious experiences others may indeed have here, but I can’t help but be taken aback at the strange tackiness of it all.
One of the highlights advertised is the four times per day when a 60 foot Jesus rises amidst strains of the Hallelujah chorus from the manmade mountain in the center of the park. It’s a moment I’ll never forget, and sorry to say it’s not because my soul was stirred by the holy spirit. But my personal favorite was the animatronic show depicting the Creation. Adam and Eve emerge amidst a jungle of jerkily moving robotic creatures which resemble a Disneyland ride from the 1970s. Perhaps it really was built in the 70s, as the show broke down halfway through, unfortunately for poor Eve who had only emerged halfway from her hiding place in the floor. Luckily for me, the cafe served a mean gin and tonic, and I quickly recovered from the stress I felt for poor Eve’s plight. I stayed a bit longer than I would have wanted to, but the shows are unhappily scheduled hours apart and I simply had to see the belly dancers. On the taxi ride back to my apartment in Palermo, I contemplated the day and decided a stranger spectacle I have never seen.