Monday 19 March 2012

Los animales de Buenos Aires

So, the usual sort of busy day that a city tour involves: cathedral, monuments, government buildings, outdoor artworks, parks and gardens. All necessary to get the feel of a place, establish its history and position in the modern world. But as always, it's the people who do furnish a city, give it a personality (literally) and allow you to connect.

We were all very taken by the dog-walkers we saw everywhere this morning, with handfuls of leads attached to a variety of canines, trotting purposefully along pavements and through parks. This young man had 25 that he was escorting - the pooper scooping that that must involve doesn't bear thinking about - and at around 250 pesos per dog per month, was easily bringing in a healthy average wage in just a couple of hours' work per day.

We were also fascinated by an actual necropolis, the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried, like everyone else in the basement of a tomb lining the narrow lanes of this peaceful and attractive place peopled by stone angels and stray cats. There were more cats at La Boca, the suburb that appears in every collection of photos of Buenos Aires - poor housing of corrugated iron and wood painted in bright reds, greens, yellows, originally using left-over cans of paint from the shipyards. It's a no-go area at night, because it's still lived in by poor people who can be a bit desperate, but during the day it's full of tourists and tango-dancers and artists, and the mood is cheerful: like the young man in the blue and gold of a Boca Juniors football supporter walking along singing about love in English. "I don't sing well, but I'm a happy boy."

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