Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Day 4 Wednesday 31st December

Remember - if you want to see a larger version of any picture - just double click on it

Smoking is an interesting issue in Argentina. Smoking seems to be banned in many buildings and all restaurants have to provide separate smoking areas - either in another part of the room (usually not separated by a screen) or on another floor and cafes often seem to charge more to outdoor clients (who invariably smoke). Never-the-less, all buildings have congregations of smokers hanging around doorways and young girls in particular, seem to be keen smokers. If there is any health advertising, we have not seen it. Figures say that 46% of men and 35% of women smoke with 30% of all smokers starting before the age of 11 ! Cuban cigars are readily on sale which is not surprising because of the Spanish language links. Walking along the streets can be hazardous because BA smokers seem to have a style of holding the cigarette some distance away from their body and you can easily brush against it.

The objective for today is to go to the tourist area of La Boca (an area also famous for Maradona and Football). We decide to take a city bus there and back because it is cheaper but also takes us closer to city life. Finding and getting on the bus is the easy bit, paying for the ticket is much harder. You have to have the correct coins and no matter how much I put in the ticket machine on the bus it does not seem to be satisfied. To the rescue comes a Porteño (a BA native) who sorts the machine and the bus driver out, then deduces we are going to La Boca, discusses it with others on the bus and takes on the role of getting us off at the correct stop and escorting us part of the way. This open friendship seems typical of many of the people we have met - although we all have trouble understanding each other, that is not going to get in the way of them helping out a visitor.

La Boca used to be run down but over the past few years has developed as a tourist spot because of its unique colour schemes (which are said to derive from the use of left over pots of ship paint) and general character.

Lady crossing street in La Boca

La Boca colour scheme (1)

La Boca Colour Scheme (2)

La Boca Colour Scheme (3)

Some of the buildings are very old and full of character

Old Houses (1)

Old Houses (2)

Old Houses (3)

A particular form of local art seems to be based upon Beryl Cook style mannequins

La Boca Mannequins (1)

La Boca Mannequins (2)

La Boca Mannequins (3)

La Boca also has a transporter bridge like Middlesbrough (although this one does not work anymore) - the "World Transporter Bridge Association" say there are only 8 in the world (bet you did not know that such an association exists)

La Boca Transporter Bridge

and this also features in wall murals on the football pitch.

La Boca Football Pitch

We always seek to take back one picture souvenir from each trip and found a very nice vibrant painting of a La Boca house by a local artist in one of the area shops.

The 40% chance of rain becomes a 100% actuality so we head back to the hotel for a rest and to decide how to celebrate the fact that at 10 pm local time, I cease to be an employee of HRC and become something else. 


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