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Buenos Aires Coat of Arms

Apr 2016

buenos aires lit. fair winds + la boca Spanish (at) the mouth (of the river).

Population - 2,890,151.

Buenos Aires Coat of Arms

La Boca's a no-nonsense neighbourhood, a working-class district just south of the city centre. If all the guides are to be believed, people from other parts of Buenos Aires don't even come here and you'll either be mugged or murdered to death if you do.

It's famous for two things, the first being Boca Juniors Football Club and one particular  Diego Maradona but more on that in a minute.

The reason this is being written, and not communicated through a medium at a seance, is there was a match this evening and the higher than usual police presence saw the murderers off, probably.

They're footie mad down here and here's their ground, La Bombonera or the 'chocolate box'[1] that it supposedly resembles.

Buenos Aires - La Bombonera

Kick-off wasn't for another 7 hours but already the flags were being hung and the barbecues loaded with what looked like skinned lions.

[1] There certainly would be Celebrations™ later as Boca saw off some hapless Bolivians in a routine 3-1 win.

 
Plaza Dorrego

Start your adventure in the relative safety of Monserrat, just north of the busy Autopista 25 de Mayo, where a pair of cafés will fuel your journey here.

Buenos Aires - Plaza Dorrego

There's mandatory tangoing, of course, to which you can offload that worthless, loose change that you've inexplicably managed to accumulate.

Here's the second reason to visit, Caminito or 'little path' or, a shortcut if you'd rather. It's essentially an outdoor artwork, arguably the city's biggest tourist attraction and everybody is trying to get a bit of Buenos Aires' most photographed street.

Buenos Aires - Caminito Buenos Aires - Caminito

Nobody seems to live in this Conventillo housing, artist Benito Quinquela Martin recreated this turn of the 20th-century illusion in 1959. Unlike the original Italian immigrants, Benito didn't have to nick the wood, paint and corrugated iron from the shipyards and the port, probably.

Wary of the warnings, this was the only time of feeling remotely threatened. A sexy, tango lady was really quite insistent that I stick my head through a wooden cutout of a gaucho, not shown.

The adjacent streets are a different kind of colourful to the rest of La Boca and there's a real theme park feel.

Buenos Aires - Magallanes Buenos Aires - Magallanes

Tango dancers parade for your pesos and the indoor markets, hidden behind the facades, trade in all manner of football shirts and tango knick-knacks.

There are really only two tourist streets, which soon run into the residential and the ramshackle. There's no obvious evidence of any income filtering out but boy, isn't it busy?

Based on absolutely nothing and having never been there, it's what the Hispanic quarter of New Orleans is imagined to look like.

Buenos Aires - Magallanes \ Caminito

If there is one?

Speaking earlier of skinning lions, here he is... my old mate Diego!

Buenos Aires - Diego

As a bit of a plastic Scotsman and a general fan of brazen, barefaced cheek in most of its forms, there's no particular problem with Maradona.

It was tried to explain this to him in phrasebook Spanish but he just kept looking at the wallet.

That pose is plain textbook and he'll even let you hold the ball if you ask nicely. Going slightly off script, this is an attempt to do a 'Shilton'. It's not technically accurate but Mr Maradona didn't seem to know what was going on.

Buenos Aires - Shilton + Diego

That's his 'minder'[1] in the background, by the way, doing a pretty good static Terry Butcher.

As an indicator of the local economy, all of this will cost you $10 US Dollars for about 30 seconds of the busy man's time. It would be said the  robbing sod but it's guessed you already knew that?

[1] Santi-Cinco-Bellies?