It was a cold and wet night, the rain had stopped and the air was crisp. We spent a long time trying to find an Uber that would pick us up. When we finally did the car was a bit underwhelming. It must’ve been right on the line between qualifying for driver use or not since it seemed older and bit beat up.
Despite the winter-like temperature, our driver had all the windows rolled down and his elbow hung out of one of them as he drove. He was listening to an old Spanish opera, its shrill high notes seemed to join forces with the blistering wind, bringing life to the empty, lonely streets as we passed through them. The lights of the city blurred by dimly, as if everyone had long gone to bed leaving us to parade through the avenues unrestrained.
There was something hauntingly peaceful about the moment. The music and the scene overtook any outside concern for the sidewalks and alleyways that hours earlier had been bustling with young professionals, senior citizens, out for a stroll, school children, shop owners, and constructions workers.
There had also been a protest that day, hundreds of people marched through the streets with choreographed chants and hand painted signs. Since dawn, they had marched through the early morning mist and continued through the smoke of the choripán stands at lunch until they broke for the day just before sundown.
“Tienen fiaca” (They’re lazy) One shop owner proclaimed. “They don’t want to work so they march.”
On Sunday the street transformed into a market. What seemed like endless blocks were filled with stands selling anything you could want and more. The stand that sucked us in, and most others, was selling made to order empanadas.
A crowd gathered around a young man who was playing a traditional folklórico song on his guitar while an older couple danced in their best dress clothes. The woman twirled in her brightly colored dress and equally decorated face. The old man tipped his hat.
We strolled through the neighborhood in the afternoon sun. Occasionally stopping to look at an impressive facade or tower. In La Boca, we went mural hunting and took photo after photo of striking pieces of art and colorful buildings.
The streets led to many discoveries. Couples danced the Tango to lure in customers to their restaurants. Playfully beleaguering waitresses served up the typical ‘café y media lunas’ in century-old cafés filled with dusty, empty bottles and large amounts of polished wood. City dwellers streamed in and out of neoclassical styled banks with decadent gold trim and stone spiral staircases. Businesses were plastered with brightly painted filete porteño signs in every direction.
Sometimes it takes a while to feel the essence of a place. Other times you can’t ignore it, it permeates the atmosphere and draws you into a new world full of recognizable pieces that have been reassembled into something surprisingly captivating. Buenos Aires is one of those places.
Check out some of my favorite art and photos below: