Buenos Aires

ihana.com - big trip - diary - argentina - january 2003

Coloured houses at La Boca

Punt across the river

Green house beside the Boca stadium

Saturday 4 - Saturday 18 January

Shortly after 'lads' arrived we managed to get ourselves an excellent flat in the heart of San Telmo, the old cobbly part of BsAs which is full of tourists on a Sunday and has plenty of cheap restaurants nearby for lazy travellers.

We walked to the area of La Boca, home of the famous Boca Juniors football team where the guy with the 'hand of god' used to play. Nearby is a riverside touristy area of painted wooden and corrugated iron houses where the early european immigrants lived and worked. We wandered along the riverside to admire the old steel lifting bridge and take pictures of the ships decaying nearby in the stinking rubbish-filled water. A bloke from the port police passed us and told us to take care further down the docks. His advice was good a few minutes later as a couple of well armed shifty guys from the nearby shanty town decided to try their luck. We had plenty of warning and ran like stallions (as 'lads' described it later!) as one of them whipped out his knife, meanwhile his accomplice threw an iron bar which hit B in the back. Fortunately thieves don't seem very good at running and they'd disappeared once we'd run a few metres.

Mothers of...

...the disappeared

Every Thursday in Plaza de Mayo

Every Thursday the Mothers of the Disappeared march, or rather, stagger around the Plaza de Mayo in a circle. The old dears on the inside of the circle get away with only a few steps per lap while the unlucky ones on the outside have to do a lot more. They have the names of their lost ones embroidered on headscarves, some of the 30,000 people who were kidnapped by the government in the 1970's during the 'Dirty War'. There is also controversy about the children born to these victims in captivity which were illegally given to military or connected families. These children are now young adults and some very influential figures such as the family who owns one of the newspapers have been accused of involvement.

Metal flower

Thats not fair!

Mural near San Telmo

What grabbed our attention was Avenida Florida, one of the main shopping streets in the city with the banking district at one end. All of the banks are surrounded by metal screens covered in graffiti and dents from hammer blows. There is new graffiti every day and at least one protest of one form or another going on. Riot police hang around as tourists do their shopping, probably expecting the hammer-wielding pensioners to have a go at them too. Countless people have their US$ savings stuck in the banks and still can't get them out.

Will the image of the banks...

...ever be cleaned up, or...

...are they banging their heads against the wall?

Our favourite parilla

Embarrassing speech making...

...in front of the Argentinean old car club

We spent a few relaxing days near Pilar, 70kms out of town, where the Zapps (now with a baby) have their house. They were back home for a few weeks, taking some time out of their trip before heading back to continue on to Alaska in the 1928 car. They persuaded us to go with them to a meeting of the Argentinean antique car club where B got roped into doing a quick speech about our trip to an embarrassingly large audience. We were repaid with a good meal, wine and beers and a few sits in some wicked old cars before managing to escape at 3am!

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