15 August 2014

Getting Authentic | South America 2013

31 December 2013

We were in a groove! We had a set agenda and no obstacles by the time our fourth day in South America dawned. Our plan was to see San Telmo in the daylight and find a Tango show before we left the country. We consulted the Internet and ventured back into the subway, where we successfully transferred from one line to another. If you didn't know, that's basically the ultimate win for international travel. Trust me.

I continued to be fascinated by the subway infrastructure. I can only guess it's because of my dad. Either way, the subway in Buenos Aires has art, television monitors, newspaper kiosks and other subway standards. But you have to buy your tickets with cash. There are fans instead of air conditioners, and weak lightning.

Escalator leaving the subway. 
It's also really cheap to ride. Obviously I'm in no way qualified to run a country or a transportation agency, but a minor fare hike could raise a lot of money for improvements. Granted, it's likely the existing power grid couldn't support air conditioning and additional lighting. But it would make for a vastly different customer experience. Although I admit my customer experience was heightened by taking a wooden escalator. I had never seen / heard of / considered escalators made from wood. But they are real. And the ride was smooth.

San Telmo is a neighborhood for real people, as opposed to tourists. It's not glamorized or even labeled that well for outsiders. To me, its charm is that it exists for the people who live (or who have lived) there.

Let me pause here and tell you that Ang really likes graffiti. This is something I cannot explain. I don't mean pictures painted onto buildings. I mean the tags and scribbles that pop up in the middle of the night. Personally, I'm all about the neat and tidy, so graffiti confuses me. But I don't look at life through a camera lens. So - much like with wooden escalators - I admit there is a lot I don't know.

Also of note: Siesta shutters. I don't know if that's what they're actually called, but I noticed them in all the residential areas. I imagine people pull them down to keep the afternoon sun from disturbing their siestas. We saw some that were painted, but I only thought to get a picture of this very plain display. Let's pretend I was going for authenticity.

We walked to Plaza Dorrego, which was definitely dressed up for tourists. It was the idyllic, open market area that could be the setting for at least two scenes in any romantic comedy. Also, there was a Starbucks.

A man walking in the middle of the street.
A man after Angie's own heart.
We walked down a cobblestone street and found a travel agency that was able to sell us tickets to a Tango performance. It was highly recommended (by the woman selling the tickets) and required us to take a shuttle from a random hotel in Recoleta. Fortunately, we were urban exploration experts and were not intimidated by logistics. We bought our tickets and were on our way.

Then, we traveled to one of the worst neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Because photography.

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