Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Buenos Aires: City of Opposites

Beautiful and Ugly. Wonderful and Boring.  Happy and Sad. Hopeful and Dismal. Safe and Dangerous.
Masterpiece. Graffiti. Clean and Dirty. Old World and New World and so much more.

This is just a snap shot of my recent visit to BsAs. A brief over view with bits thrown in of things I've read from solid sources and news and ideas from Portenos themselves.

It will take some time to write but I'll try to keep the number of blog entries to just a few.

Recently had the chance to travel to BsAs with my lovely wife...she grew up there and is, at heart, a Porteno....a person of the port, which BsAs is and was.

I wasn't sure where to start writing about this adventure but opposites seemed appropriate. Driving and walking around the city and the country I was struck by all the things I mentioned above. The two pics I've chosen to start this entry aren't mine and thanks to those who lent them...
At the top is the Avineda 9 de Julio take from the air. The Avenue is the heart and soul of part of the city. Running North to South it is the largest Avenue on the Planet (some dispute on that) in one of the largest cities on the planet (9th). It is home to the Teatro Colon. El Obelisco, 16 lanes of traffic and up close...the homeless, the dirt, the petty crime, the beautiful women, the men of business, awesome restaurants and holes in the wall with the best empanadas on earth.

The second photo is, in the foreground, the Villas Miseria...the Neighborhoods of Misery.  Homes without water and sewage disposal slapped together by the people who live there from material they find or steal or make. They are mostly made up of immigrants who have no place to live except here. They dot the city.
Passing one on a Sunday, it was obvious that they not without hope.... a dirt pitch ringed with spectators and leaning out of the windows of the shacks more people watching a futbol match and clapping and cheering...

Graffiti is a low art form here. It's everywhere. Usually a sign of social decay. It's not like some of the scrawl you see in some places that could actually be classified as art. This is rough and crude and usually political in nature when it isn't obscene. It's nasty but at the same time it's expression in pure form.  Vandalism of the Heart...words from a frustrated people blasting the government and all those who make Argentina less than it could be.

Everywhere is the New World. Internet cafes, cell phones, up scale shopping and new ideas. Asados (barbecues) Gauchos. (cowboys, who are actually still cowboys) Everywhere is the Old World. French and Italian influenced buildings and art. European style greetings and meals. French, Italian, German, English and Argentina's own brand of Spanish spoken here. Devoted Catholics, Masses in Latin, Fascism and anti-semitism.  It's all there.

I loved the place. I loved the people. I was saddened by the misery. I dig it's history. I could eat like an Argentine for the rest of my life and never  look back...and that's what I'll cover next. The food.