Saturday, April 11, 2009

Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - La Boca, the Economic Tourist Theory about the Price of Coca-Cola and Fileteado

I chose this photo for several reasons.

First, it is a good example of a Bueno Aires style of decorating called fileteado -- highly decorative and colorful it originally was the work of Italian immigrant artists.

Second, this is the colorful, albeit highly touristy, Caminto section of La Boca, a district settled by Italians and other immigrants who worked in the ports. Buildings are very colorful here, originally because the workers used assorted color paints leftover from the shipyards to paint their homes and businesses and now because tourists come and take photos.

Third, because my son (the one that was formerly the Future Pastry Chef and is now known as the Future Architect) has a theory about the affordability of visiting different countries based on the price of of a 20-ounce bottle of Coke. In England, the price had been 2 pounds (roughly $4 when he was there) and in Europe, 2 Euros (about 3 bucks). When I was in Buenos Aries I paid about 3-4 pesos, around a dollar from the small corner snack stores (called kiosks) for my occasional bottle of diet Coke, a bit less in a grocery store, a bit more in a cafe or restaurant.

My preferred drink of choice was aqua mineral con gas. This was about half the price of the sodas (which are called gas or gaseous in Buenos Aires).

Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: Check out the colorful Caminto area, but recognize it is all a tourist set up. Lots of street cafes with live tango, gaucho dancing and music. It is strictly a daytime scene since all the guidebooks and locals say to stay away from the neighborhood at night. I can't vouch for that, but since the appeal is all visual, I don't know that a night time visit would be rewarding anyway.

Interested in learning fileteado-style painting? One business is offering Spanish language courses in the morning with painting lessons in the afternoon. All you need is tango lessons in the evening you'd be a regular Porteno in no time!

Want a fileteado souvenir? Some of the crafts and street markets feature fileteado works. I think the best I saw was at the San Telemo Sunday fair (two of the best artisans were practically in the center of Plaza Durrango at the ferria, more info in my tourist tip here). Many of the more touristy stores in San Telemo also carried plaques with saying decorated in fileteado styles. I liked the ones done on metal best, many are done on wood and didn't look as nice.

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