We visited La Boca and San Telmo on Sunday. La Boca means the mouth in Spanish, with its name arising from the fact it is positioned at the mouth of the river Riachuelo. It was also the arrival point for immigrants in the 1800s when it was Buenos Aires’ main harbour. The houses are built from cast off ship-building materials, and painted in fun patch work colours. Known as conventillos, they each used to be home to numerous immigrant families, with one family per room, living in very poor conditions. Now they have mostly been turned into shops and restaurants. La Boca is also supposedly the birthplace of tango. As it was a Sunday there were many people dancing in the streets, though this did seem something of a contrived affair aimed at tourists.
San Telmo is one of the oldest barrios (neighbourhoods) in Buenos Aires and as a result one of the most picturesque. On Sundays, cobbled streets play host to an amazing market about a mile long, made up stalls selling food, antiques, handmade jewellery and lots of incense!
On the southern side of BA there is an ecological reserve open to the public during the day, where we spent an afternoon enjoying being away from the noise of the city. On one side you can see towering skyscrapers, while the other opens out to the Rio del Plato and Uruguay. Most of the people there appeared to be either runners, cyclists or teenage couples. There is a variety of plants and wildlife and we were lucky to to spot terrapins and a brief glimpse of a Brazilian guinea pig.
We visited Recoleta cemetery—which is absolutely huge, the larger the mausoleum generally the more important the family. Most of the coffins are posted in shelves, it’s a pretty bizarre thing to see but pretty impressive nonetheless. After we stopped by in this beautiful bookshop which was an old theatre.
BBQs are an important part of Argentinian culture and offer a chance for family and friends to get together. Known as asados, they often involve cooking enormous bits of meat for hours at a time until the meat literally falls of the bone.
We were very kindly invited to a BBQ hosted by some friends of Nico and Martina. They had bought what looked like half a cow which they had on the parrilla (grill) for around 3.5 hours. They also had two types of chorizo, meat wrapped in bacon and morcilla (black pudding). Surprisingly they served the morcilla cold, which those who were at the BBQ said they preferred. Luckily for Rose they had also specially prepared some fish just for her so she wasn’t left out. It was great to have the opportunity to talk to Argentinians of a similar age to us and gain an insight into life in Buenos Aires. We were made to feel at home and ended up leaving in the early hours of the morning after a lovely evening.
We are currently in Buenos Aires staying with Gladys (pictured with Bruno who is Gladys’ 3-week-old grandson) a family friend! She is being an amazing host, feeding us so well and translating for us whenever needed!
We have been quite busy since arriving, but one of the most notable things we have done is go to a family party for Gladys’ sister Judith—we ate empanadas which are like cornish pasties, and they can also be vegetarian!
Martina (Gladys’ daughter) and Nico (her boyfriend) have also taken us under their wing, even though they have a brand new baby. They took us to a friend’s BBQ on Saturday night—it’s true when people say Argentinians know how to BBQ! There looked to be half a cow on the BBQ! Lots of good wine and beer!