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Buenos Aires Plans 'Bergoglio Tour' - Holy Sites, Soccer Pitches Of Pope's Past

Young Bergoglio and Buenos Aires' Church of María Auxiliadora where he was baptized
Young Bergoglio and Buenos Aires' Church of María Auxiliadora where he was baptized
Nora Sánchez

BUENOS AIRES - The hunger to learn more about the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now and forever known as Pope Francis, is gripping the Argentinian capital.

Just back from a meeting with the new pontiff in Rome, Mauricio Macri, head of the municipal government of Buenos Aires, announced that he will launch a “pope tour," which will include an itinerary of places linked to Bergoglio, a native of the city and its longtime Archbishop.

There is still no official announcement regarding when the pope tours will begin, as the government decides whether it will hire guides or simply give out brochures that include the information of the tour.

“There are certain spots that cannot be missed!" declares Alfredo Adriani, who heads the city's religious affairs department.

Papa Francisco was baptized in the Church of María Auxiliadora, took his first communion in the College of Our Lady of Mercy and studied in the Devoto seminary. Moreover, the tour will include the Cathedral, where during 14 years he served as archbishop and Primal Cardinal of Buenos Aires. And of course, the house where he was born on December 17, 1936. "Around the world, people are curious to know more details about this Argentine pastor," notes Adriani. "People are especially curious to know how his pastoral life developed.”

A large part of the pope tour will take place in the neighborhood of Flores, where he was born and grew up. A mandatory stop will be in 531 Membrillar street, the house where he grew up. We will also visit the Herminia Brumana Plaza on Membrillar and Francisco Bilbao streets, where he played soccer with friends. Also on the tour, The Basilica San José de Flores, where Bergoglio discovered his religious vocation.

“An estimated 23% of worldwide travelers are interested in visiting religious sites or sanctuaries," declares Hernán Lombardi, head of tourism for Buenos Aires. "The new Pope being from here will give one more reason for people to visit Buenos Aires and Argentina. It is a huge stimulus to attract tourists from all around the world.”

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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