BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Twin girls no taller than Jesus’ chest squeal with delight, fingers pointed at the figure of the Son of God being lashed by a Roman soldier a few feet away.
Across the dusty courtyard from Pontius Pilate’s administrative complex, Jesus crouches pathetically inside a minuscule prison cell. Elsewhere, Jesus is betrayed, crucified, condemned, worshipped. His head is crowned with thorns, his dead body cradled by the Virgin Mary. And twice every hour he is resurrected — all 50 feet of him.
At Tierra Santa, billed as ”Jerusalem in Buenos Aires,” Jesus is quite literally everywhere. And the faithful come in droves, with 10,000 visitors on Easter weekend alone and more than 2.5 million since the park opened in 1999.
It is a Holy Land made almost entirely of plastic, from the camels to the temples to Jesus himself. The effect approximates the original ”Batman” TV show, with the surf-rock theme replaced by choral music and Arab dirges blaring from speakers hidden in fake palm trees.
Costumed sentinels (security guards) mingle with tourists guided by robed men and women through the history of the savior’s days in Jerusalem. Arab vendors peddle keffiyehs and ceramics in the park’s souk.
From the top of Mount Olive, where Jesus is permanently nailed to the cross, you can glimpse a disused water park. Planes from the adjacent airport roar overhead every couple minutes, tactlessly reminding visitors which century they are in.