Not Shopping in San Telmo

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Shopping has never been my favourite sport and, since starting this RTW trip, I’ve taken a fair amount of pleasure in purposefully Not Shopping. Every item in a bag you have to drag around the planet for months on end must be carefully considered. There’s certainly no room for the silly souvenirs I usually buy on my travels.

Despite this, I’ve already been lugging a mate and bombilla in my pack since Bariloche, and have used them a grand total of twice, which proves that you really have to be SO careful.

In light of this, when Meg suggested a visit to San Telmo market, I agreed with a certain amount of trepidation. I decided that as long as I only bought something very small, it should be okay.

We went on a Saturday morning when it was quiet in the beautiful old market building and we were practically the only tourists. This gave us plenty of time to browse the vintage clothing stores, antique jewelry stands and creepy doll shops. Meg fell in love with a pair of earrings and I bought an unusually ugly silver chain and a rusty key to wear on it. (I’ve since removed the rust with Coke Zero and steel wool.)

I was perturbed to see something that looked distinctly like Dolly Apartheid going on in this shop.

I was perturbed to see something that looked distinctly like Dolly Apartheid going on in this shop.

When I started seriously contemplating the purchase of an ET doll and a chandelier, I knew it was time to get out, fast. So we went to La Boca for the afternoon, where I narrowly escaped a girl’s football shirt and a rude fridge magnet. (The shopping impulse is hard to quell once awoken.)

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It’s tough to carry on, knowing that I don’t have an ET for my Christmas Tree.

The next day, we went BACK to San Telmo and, since it was a Sunday, the market had undergone a fantastic mutation. No longer a sleepy indoor maze with a few half-hearted outdoor stands, there was now an entire street closed off to traffic for about 20 city blocks, packed with stalls, cafés, tourists, musicians, and one extremely convincing Jack Sparrow impersonator. (I couldn’t get a good shot of him because he would have wanted money, and I have a personal ‘don’t pay for photos’ policy. Sorry.)

Fortunately, I’d only brought along a couple of hundred pesos, so I managed to escape with a shirt I didn’t need, a novelty coin pendant (because nobody else seemed to like the rusty key) and a toy Hulk (a gift for someone else, although I fancied it myself). Meg herself showed remarkable restraint. The way she managed NOT to buy the leather cat mask will forever remain stamped in my memory as an example of heroic Not Shopping.

Maybe one day, I’ll return to Buenos Aires on a shopping trip, and then I will be able to buy those hideous shoes with the boingy spring thing in their heels, those Banana in Pyjama fridge magnets wearing Argentinian football kit, ten chandeliers, and a whole trolleyful of ET dolls. Or maybe not.

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