I learned something new today. Baby Jesus came from a tango family. Only here in Buenos Aires, where everything is connected to tango. It’s my first time to this energetic and colorful city, where Tango is used to sell just about anything, dogs lead a pretty nice lifestyle, and dinner is served from 9 pm until after midnight.
My sister and I are staying in the Palermo district, a quiet, tree-lined upper class part of the city. We are about 6 blocks to a subte station and surrounded by restaurants. We walked for hours today, needed exercise after 9 hours on a jet direct from Miami to get here.
The city reminded me a lot of European cities with beautiful old buildings, and good underground system and the normal dirt and clutter you see everywhere, (except possibly Scandinavia and Switzerland). Lots of dogs on the street and in the parks (with their people), so it means you have to watch where you step.
We started out this morning by walking from our hotel to Recoleta, intent on shopping at the open air market at Plaza Intendente Alvear and touring the famous Cemeterio de la Recoleta. As we walked along Ave. Las Heras, an older woman passing us stopped and pointed at my camera, then our backpack. I had been carrying the camera in one hand. She spoke no English, but made several gestures. I’d like to say that we didn’t have to be told twice that carrying a large camera openly was a bad idea, but unfortunately, we did have to be told twice. Less than a block later a man stopped and pointed again at the camera. His gestures were more understandable, as in making a gun out of his hand and pointing at us, then the camera and saying “kill”. This time we got the message, and while walking the streets we put the camera inside the backpack. I’m happy to say we did not lose our lives over my camera and had nothing but positive experiences with the local people.
The walk to Recoleta was quite long, but the destination was worth it. The market stalls were filled with hand made jewelry, purses, belts, and one of the most unusual items we’d even seen, a woman selling Tango Nativity. It featured Mary in a red dress with a slit, Joseph wearing a striped suit and fedora, and a cat instead of the more ordinary cow or sheep. Everything is colorful, including the graffiti. It is too bad about that, and my sister noted that when she was here 7 years ago it wasn’t as bad as it is now. Graffiti is everywhere, and it really makes some nice places look trashy.
The Cemeterior de la Recoleta is beautiful, and a popular destination. Many people were walking the narrow lanes, tourists and locals with children. It is easy to spend time here admiring the sculpture on the tombs. We found the tomb of Eva Perone, and the very ornate Paz Family tomb.
It was nearly three o’clock when we left the Recoleta area to find lunch.
After lunch we took the subte to San Telmo for yet another street market. The subte, the underground subway, is easy to use and safe. Some of the stations have beautiful ceramic tile scenes, but the ugly graffiti is here too.
The San Telmo market is set around Plaza Dorrego and began as a mostly antique market. The original antique market is still there at Plaza Dorrego, but it has expanded to many more blocks along Defensa. We walked what felt like miles on the cobble stone streets, making purchases and stopping to listen to the many street bands and performers. The best we heard was an older man playing Grieg on his bandoneon, and a group of three guys on bandoneons, a bass and a piano player.
We did the “must do” of having a refreshment in the old Bar Plaza Dorrego, and waited for the start of the 8 pm Milonga (a tango dance outside in the plaza).