15 August 2014

Getting Authentic (ii) | South America 2013

31 December 2013

La Boca is the neighborhood at the mouth of a river. When we first checked in to our apartment, our coordinator handed us a map and highlighted neighborhoods that might be of interest to two foreign women. La Boca was on the list of "places you probably shouldn't go."

Bartender Adi told us a trip there after dark was likely to include violence and brutality - with Ang and me as the victims.

I'm sure La Boca is a "bad neighborhood" the same way other neighborhoods are "bad neighborhoods." It's probably full of hard working people who are just as much victims of their surroundings as outsiders who become the victims of crimes. The only difference is that I make it a point not to go those neighborhoods in the United States.

La Boca is known as the birthplace of Tango. It's also known for the Caminito, an extremely colorful pedestrian walk. Ang had to go for the pictures. I had to go with Ang. This is how we ended up in La Boca.

When we arrived, I got the impression that someone was trying too hard. The merriment implied with the bright colors was absent. We bought some souvenirs and more postcards that I would never send. Ang flip-flopped from one side of the street to the next taking pictures. I kept my head on a swivel, eyeballing everyone. No, I don't think it was right for me to go to someone else's neighborhood and treat them with suspicion. At minimum, it was rude of me. The reality is I would probably do it the same way if given a second chance. I was not in a position to gamble with safety.

Ang LOVES these head cut out things. But we would have needed
to pay AND to give her camera to a stranger. So... yeah.

Eventually I did relax. La Boca really was interesting to see. And there was a definite disconnect between the vibrance we were seeing and the energy I was feeling. I wondered if just seeing bright colors every day would be enough to inspire. (I've since painted my living and can tell you the answer is "yes.")

Toasty tree.
I never got an explanation for the post koozies.
But they were cool.
I was also able to relax because there was a heavy police presence surrounding the pedestrian area. Officers were inside the area and also around it. Their silent message being "this is as far as you want to go in this direction."

"Do you want to stop and have a drink?" - Ang / Pollyanna
"No I don't want to have a f-ing drink. I want to get the hell out of here." - Danie
Ang laughed at me and took about 30 pictures as we headed to the taxi stand. (You do NOT hail your own taxi in La Boca.) We ended our tour unscathed.

Next up: putting 2013 to bed.

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