Oi! Catching up – Day 11-13

Ooookay… so I’ve been busy enough that I’ve neglected to post anything about it at all. This is the somewhat condensed version of the last few days:

Day 11:

My Baba (grandmother) got her cataract surgery today. Since my dad doesn’t have anyone to back him up today, I stuck around nearby to make sure he had backup.
Day 12:

Today, after sleeping in a bit, is the day of the GRAND EXCURSION with my great and extraordinary dad. We went all over the place! Starting at Porto Maedero (to get tickets to Uruguay on Buquebus), we then took the bus to the old town of Boca.

bridge porto maderoporto madero

The river here is called the Ria Chuello. It is the most polluted river, practically speaking, in the whole world. Whatever heavy metal, pollutant, benzene, you name it .. its in there. The smell can’t even be described .. it’s more than rotten, it is a kind of heavy, sulfurous, sewage laden smell. The “water” has a black blooms, and the sheen of oil all over it. It’s a pity, because most of the old pollution came from industry .. but the new one comes from the sewage of the shanty towns that have formed since the economic collapse ten years ago.

polluted waterpolluted water

The sidewalks of La Boca are all raised .. four feet up. The reason for this is the occasional flooding that happens in this area of Buenos Aires. So, there are endless staircases going up, and like Venice .. all the restaurants have the pantries, stoves, and other important items raised above the ground. Many of the buildings are painted garish colors, which comes from the old tradition of this town as the place sailors lived, worked, fought and played. In fact, you’ll find all the colors from red and yellow, to gunmetal and green.

boca colorsel Caminito

It’s said that the people who lived here, to save money, would take the leftover paint from the ships that they worked on .. and use it to paint the houses. This has resulted in a unique mottled look for the town. Boca has a long history of being a roughneck area, with the bars (“pulperia”) being well known for being dens where people would fight.

Today, Boca is mostly a tourist area. Like the ghost towns of the midwest in the US, the primary source of income here is the sale of nostalgia for a time long since past. Boca is known as the home of Maradona, and almost every place has some connection to him … “Here is the shirt Maradona wore..”, “Maradona signed this mate…”, etc..

On our way through Boca, we walked the Caminito .. which is one of the famous little streets of the town. As we approached it, we passed by a cafe with a couple showing off the Tango. Well worth a tip of a peso.

tangotangotango

The caminito is lined both sides with art, which you can see in the photo gallery. At the end of the path, we passed by the old train station, and then walked through the town of Boca to a favorite restaurant of my fathers for lunch. It’s famous for great pizza, and has some items on the menu that can be found nowhere else.
bocheros
Banchero is a fantastic stop for a coffee and piece of pizza, fugacetta, or what have you.
After a nice lunch, we hopped back on the bus northwards. Abasto is a huge hall, built in the 1800’s, that used to house the open markets (fish, vegetables, beef, etc) for Buenos Aires. After being abandoned for years, a local millionaire took a risk and has turned it into a four-level mall filled will all kinds of shops, cafe’s .. even a KOSHER McDonalds, one of only five in the world. Somewhere nearby is the house of Carlos Gardel, but we couldn’t find it.
We ended the day with an exhausting walk all the way back home. My dad was bushed, and he walked the entire thing on his leg that’s still sore from the pulled muscle (hamstring).
What a great day!

Day 13: (Dec 15)

I went for a long walk around noon to do a bit of shopping. I managed to pick up a number of mates of different types to give as gifts, and also a large bolt of leather .. full hide .. for 200 pesos ($65). I sent the leather back to the US via DHL (Hi DL! See .. DHL rocks…) and will put the mate gourds in the suitcase along with the rest of the gifts.

After getting back, grandma and I went and had a pancake at a place around the corner. Between us we shared one pancake, with fresh creme and a couple cups of coffee. After which I walked fifteen blocks to meet Bea and Kragen at a “tenedor libre” (buffet) style restaurant called “Los Sabios” – totally vegetarian – at Corrientes 3733. For ten pesos, it’s a fantastic place to eat. Lunch is eight pesos, and drinks range from 2-4 pesos.

After dinner, we grabbed the Metro down a few stations .. and went to the Teatro Grand Rex to see the Argentine National Symphonic orchestra play Pink Floyd. The concert was -fantastic!- Bea got some excellent snapshots of the event, and I’ll try to find a link to her flickr page. I took a few snapshots, and also recorded some video footage.

Got home at 2:30am .. and it was so worth it.