I had some inner conflict going on at our tour stop at La Boca today. This area looks markedly different that other parts of Buenos Aires that I have seen – it has the colours of the rainbow and more narrow streets due to the influence of Italians who settled here.
It has a colourful history as well – this is where the Tango was born.. in the brothels of La Boca. This was an affordable place to rent an apartment in the inexpensive tenements.
As we stepped off the bus, our local guide let us know we should stay in a set triangle – Carmanito Square (little street)” – as the surrounding area is marginalized and not as safe as the recommended walk. There are some tough times for some people in Buenos Aires right now, especially in this area.
Here’s where the inner conflict came in. I loved walking around here. It’s fun. There are a ton of shops. If you look hard enough you will find a gem or two by an artist or artisan, rather than the usual souvenirs. I bought a silk screen print and a magnet (my souvenir of choice) both designed by artists I also got to meet.
Then, I realized the area is marked by train tracks. Literally, I was on the “right” side of the tracks and people live on the “wrong” side of the tracks. I wondered what it would be like to live here and watch from a distance the throngs of loud and gawking tourists spending gobs of money on the edge of your neighbourhood, never daring to venture in to where you live. It gave me pause.