If you’ve ever been to Buenos Aires and you pay any attention to football whatsoever, you’ll have heard of Boca Juniors. This first division football club inspires deeply passionate support amongst its fans. The last time I left BA, it was on a Boca match day and the entire city had come to a halt to sit in front of their tellies waving flags and cheering. The Boca Juniors home ground is, not surprisingly, in a neighbourhood called La Boca.
La Boca means ‘the mouth’ and this barrio has both a colourful past (having once even seceded from Argentina, briefly, in the 1800s) and very colourful architecture. In fact, its painted wooden houses are probably the second most famous thing about the place. So, after our succesful Not Shopping expedition in San Telmo, Meg and I climbed onto a bus to La Boca to take colourful wooden house photos.
We’d been warned not to stray out of the tourist areas on pain of mugging, but unfortunately, the tourist areas were very touristy indeed. Touts tried to lure us to lunch at the pavement cafés. Souvenir shops burst with tacky bric-a-brac, overpriced leather goods and a hundred different styles of Boca Junior football shirts. Slatternly-looking tango girls lounged on street corners between impromptu performances, wearing grubby, too-tight dresses with thigh-high slits showing off large rips in their fishnet tights. And tourists were everywhere, lapping it all up.
So I didn’t last long in La Boca. We perambulated within the ‘safe’ limits until we were heartily sick of our own kind, and jumped on the next bus out of there. The colourful wooden houses were very photogenic, however…