March 05, 2013

La Boca

La Boca is a barrio in Buenos Aires on the riverfront, at the mouth of the Rio Plate. It is most definitely a working class neighbourhood and a highly popular tourist destination.

Walking through the barrio, which is not accessible by subway, presents a rougher side of town; not the nicest part of the city, yet still very much a neighbourhood. Some guidebooks suggest ignoring Boca all together, others say it is unsafe at night. One source mentioned that police are there during the day to watch over the tourists; when they leave at sunset, so do the police. Somehow it doesn't seem quite that bad.

As one gets closer to the waterfront the barrio's homes and businesses become more colourful. There is a certain element of fun, and there is lots of noise and colour.

Souvenir shops and overpriced bars and poor restaurants appear as one gets to the centre of the barrio, a street called Caminito (immortalized by the tango of the same name). English and Portuguese become the most widely heard languages and tourists are everywhere.

Side streets offer a place for local artists to set up stalls and these are well worth the visit. The artists seem genuinely happy to talk with people and present their works.

Boca is a neighbourhood. Somewhat touristy in the daytime. Vibrant and colourful, and full of life, with or without the tourists and the Policia.

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.

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