Leaving the block

I’m living in San Telmo, a neighborhood I suspected I wanted to live in before I left for Buenos Aires and confirmed the moment I arrived. The barrio (neighborhood) is beautiful, historic and bohemian– European architecture and cobblestone streets, cute stores and restaurants packed into every block. During my first few days here I was working, so I didn’t venture much further than the two blocks around my apartment– finding the grocery store, buying fruits and vegetables, those kinds of things. I went out at night a couple of times, but my navigation was poor and I was usually escorted by a local, so I didn’t have to remember where I was going.

Each day I took more time to explore the barrio, and now I have a pretty good grasp of the streets. Each outing is a small adventure– two blocks over for a cheap choripan (sausage sandwich on French bread), up Bolivar to find an ATM, four blocks down into the rough neighborhood of Constitucion for an expat yoga class, just across the street for a mound of gelatto stuffed into a tiny edible cone cup.

Today was my favorite– and furthest– adventure yet: San Telmo’s weekly feria, a street market held every Sunday. The feria consumes the main street in San Telmo, called Defensa, and most of the side streets. Vendors line the road with blankets and stalls of their wares, all rightly called tchotchkes and equally aimed at tourists and locals. The feria has a surprisingly local feel given the number of tourists.

Packed street at the feria

You can find anything at the feria– antiques, leather goods, mate gourds, wire dragons. Here’s a sampling:

On sale! John F. Kennedy rug! Only $125 USD!

Feather Duster Man. May pretend to be all about selling the feather dusters, but when you whip out a camera, gives a fierce pose.

Later that day I tried to take the subway north to Barrio Chino, Buenos Aires’ Chinatown, but the subway was closed. I followed some very loud noises to a huge Brazilian festival taking up one of the city’s main streets– apparently there’s a cultural festival there nearly every weekend, which is pretty amazing.

And so I have realized (and decided) that every day will be an adventure– each exploration guided by a smell, a sound, an unfamiliar street I want to walk down. I have all the time I care to spend in this place– forever, if I want it.

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