14.05.2012 - 15.05.2012
The street fair in San Telmo is renowned for its array of random antiques. For me, ancient baby dolls and old lady jewlery are just creepy. For me the fair is all about people watching and the food. San Telmo has long been a popular neighborhood for foreigners, but according to Carlos on this trip the fair was "too" international. Instead of mainly antique wares, people roamed the streets selling Colombian coffee and tacos??? and German apple streudals and pastries. Ehh I think these are tough times for everyone, so who cares what they're selling. I couldn't buy anything anyway.
The fair has grown, covering many cobblestone blocks on Defensa Street. We only walked a third of it, since we got a late start, as usual. Everything from clothes to license plates to máte gift baskets was being sold by old ladies, fat old men and the ocassional South American foreigner. We also explored the "official" San Telmo market, which is an odd combination of antiques and fruit and veggie stands.
After so much walking, I, of course, was starving, so we went to El Desnivel, the place for traditional Argentine take-out or sit-down. People were lined up ordering typical meat favorites, like choripan. We got bondipan, which to me was pork meat but steak style on a hoagie roll. You can add an onion dressing and chimichurri to taste, all for 25 Argentine pesos, or about $5. When the guy at the barbeque tossed it in the plate in front of me I was like no way am I going to finish it. But it was gone in about 20 minutes, which is record time for those who know me. While enjoying that delicious meal we enjoyed a show of traditional tango music. In the street, a group of musicians had set up their stage: accordians, bass, cello, violin and piano.
As the sun started to go down, we ran to catch a bus to Caminito, La Boca, the neighborhood famous for being the birthplace of tango and the home of Maradona, a god-like Argentine soccer player. This is the most photographed neighborhood in Buenos Aires, famous for its loudly painted houses- green, blue, yellow, red. La Boca literally means "The Mouth" of the river. It used to be the main port of Buenos Aires, and it's still a working class neighborhood. Carlos explained that the unique splash of color originally came from the left-over paint from the ships that was used to paint the houses. We walked around the block, but not too far, because you don't want to push your luck with a neighborhood that hasn't struck it rich despite its supposed fame.
On the way out we stopped to watch a tango show, my first. These performers were definitely from the 'hood, which gave the spectacle a genuine charm that other performances lack. A family quartet: mother, father, daughter, son. They danced a few numbers for us before the rival soccer team showed up in an armed armada of buses and police squads. We enjoyed the cogmbination of the top 2 Argentine passions, soccer and tango. Fans hung out of bus windows yelling as mother and son gracefully twirled across the sidewalk stage.
When we got back to the San Telmo neighborhood we were still able to catch the drum show at the end of the fair. Young adults with tamborines, snare drums and other percussion instruments paraded down the street, signaling the end of the fair. In Plaza Dorrego we watched another tango show, similar in music and rhythm but not as endearing as the more humble tango show we saw in La Boca.
Not that I know anything, but if tango came from the hood it should still be a show in the hood. Not some elite, fancy performance that middle, upper class people pay good money for. It was super cute watching the old rich people dance, but it didn't compare with the little girl dancing with her father with the random, festive-colored palette of La Boca as a backdrop.