Wednesday, July 18, 2012

San Andres

I've proudly grudgingly, joylessly gone kicking and screaming where no American (American as in United States of AMERICA, not the continent so I don't want to hear it) ex-pat has gone before: Provincia of Buenos Aires. If you don't already know, the term Buenos Aires applies to two distinct regions: Cuidad Autónoma de Buenos Aires aka the cosmopolitan world class city home to especially sophisticated neighborhoods like Recoleta, Palermo and Puerto Madero; and Provincia de Buenos Aires which includes all the other stuff. 
If Puerto Madero isn't really Buenos Aires (see Perfil article where PM residents say they pay high taxes so they don't want to see homeless people in their neighborhood), then all of Capital isn't really Argentina. That is to say, what's outside of the city of Buenos Aires actually feels like South America. 
On my way to work from the campo (my pet name for San Andres) I see the things I expected to see in South America: a morning can fire at the bus stop, kids being brought school on the handlebars of their parents' bicycles, sidewalk grills, the Detroit-esque Fargo bread factory, dozens of stray dogs roaming the streets, people collecting recyclables from the trash using horse-drawn homemade carriages and a shrine dedicated to Gauchito Gil (the Argie gaucho Saint, of course!). 
The people of the provincias are the masses, the "K" supporters, Evita's descamisados. Painted on walls and plastered on bumpers are support for the president, Moyano and other public figures who are despised by the majority in Capital. (Haha. The Capital, and we're like district 12).
Despite the prevalence of private security and the sounds of weekend street racing and passing trains, there are still remnants of San Andres' golden age including neighborhood bakeries (like La Nueva Moderna, seen in the photo below), big houses and vintage retro signs. 
I should point out that not all of Provincia is like this. There are some ultra upscale suburbs like Vicente Lopez and San Isidro plus the BA beaches, which are even nicer than CABA's best neighborhoods. However, the vast majority of cities and towns throughout the country aren't something out of a guidebook. 


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