Sunday, March 22, 2009
It took me nearly 2 months to make it to San Telmo. It's a tourist trap and I've tried to avoid those, but a sudden yen for vintage leather bags found me riding the subway to the end of the line, lingering at Plaza de Mayo (see video in post below), and migrating south through the splintering afternoon light.
Treading alone, I allow myself to be led by the street art. Not angry graffiti, but the sort that sees the city as a canvas and the neighborhood as an art gallery.
I turn a corner. An empty church, parked motorcycle, sleeping german shepherd. I tuck my camera back into my purse and feign purpose as I move my bare legs a bit quicker. I'm still skittish and prefer the more populated areas.
Lost in San Telmo and too proud to pull out my map, though there's no one but the dog to judge me. Onward my sandals push until i spot a policeman smoking a cigarette. Put on my most sing-song argentine accent and ask where the outdoor market is, la feria. He looks annoyed that I’ve interrupted his tobacco sucking and points right as he exhales in my face. One block.
(Imagine Astor Piazzolla playing in the background for the remainder of this post)
San Telmo Market:
I stand at the mouth of this endless street, closed to vehicular traffic, hesitating before allowing myself to be woven into the pulsating ribbon of tourists, tourists, barefoot children, tourists, bohemian splatter-paint artists, didgeridoo players huddled in circles, oversexed tango dancers, women with aprons squeezing oranges for juice, tourists, tourists, the smokey scent of chorizo.
A dreadlocked hippie in hemp pants asks if I would like to purchase his handmade jewlery. Yes, yes, I would.
I could wander all day. I do wander all day.
But watch the video i've posted above. See the men standing in front of the yellow bars, arms raised behind their heads as if hanged.
I wonder about them. Paraguayos, or Bolivianos, the immigrants that make up Argentina's lower class. Waiting as their wives peddle their wares, blank expressions, exhaustion, lack of purpose. Sunday they rest against yellow bars.
Beneath the layers of Tango, of gratification from consumption, stand ghosts. The homeless, the gypsies, silent, invisible to the constant influx of visitors. Eyes like glass.
I don't buy myself a vintage bag.