“Foto Ruta has always been and always will be about trying to take photos that step away from the norm. We encourage our participants to be as creative as possible, avoid taking that obvious shot of the Obelisco head on down 9 de Julio… Instead, get close to a puddle and take its shiny, distorted reflection. With this in mind, we asked The Real Argentina for a selection of their favourite snaps of street-level Buenos Aires. Each of these photographs tells a story that represents a taste of the true Argentina that you might not see in a post card shot – from wild nights out to street art and naps in the park. Check them out below…”
Tourists in Buenos Aires invariably find themselves corralled into one of the city’s hundreds of dinner and tango shows. There’s nothing wrong with these, but they don’t come close to the experience of a true milonga, where the locals tango. This beautifully ramshackle hall at La Catedral, on a scruffy section of Sarmiento, is popular with young porteños. Hold out until the early hours and you’ll catch the pros, who come in once they’ve clocked off from the tourist shows. Photos are not encouraged, so be discreet.
Palermo is full of slick, New York-style cafes and bars, but if you head to less fashionable barrios like Almagro, you’ll find local pitstops. El Banderín is so named for its collection of football pennants. Here, the owners – 76 year-old Mario Riesco, who as a kid played football until midnight in the cobbled street outside – and his son greet regulars with a kiss, deliver porrones and picadas to pavement tables and bemoan River’s poor form.
You won’t find many tourists at the pavement stalls on Buenos Aires’ Costanera – this is where the porteños pitch up for their lunchtime bondiola (a pork shoulder sandwich) or choripan (a hotdog on steroids). The trick is to find the parrilla with the most taxis parked next to it – the taxistas know their sandwiches.
It is always ok to eat helado (ice cream) and postres (desserts) at whatever time of day, preferably throughout. The heladerias stay open until the early hours so that the locals can get their fix. Excessive sugar consumption is a fact of life in Argentina – embrace it.
If you’re wandering through one of Buenos Aires’ parks one afternoon and you see a guy asleep on a grass verge, don’t throw him a peso – on closer inspection, you’ll probably find he’s pretty respectable looking. When the urge to siesta strikes, there’s no stopping it, as demonstrated by some of the strange alfresco sleeping positions you’re bound to encounter in the parks and plazas.
In a country where questioning the honour of an amigo’s mother is akin to saying good morning, only one thing can truly cast this kind of cloud over an Argentine’s chiselled features: football. Especially if he is a fan of River Plate, who dropped down from the top division at the end of last season. In this picture, two of our Argentinian friends are just watching a match in the park, but the concentration on their faces is so intense.
While it may not be the most technically accomplished, this picture pretty much sums up the major food groups in the Argentinian diet. Sausages, some offally stuff ], beef of course…oh, and chicken for the vegetarians. Main course is not steak and chips. It’s not steak and salad. It’s just steak. And the basket of vegetables at the front of the shot is for display purposes only.
It isn’t called graffiti or vandalism in Buenos Aires, it’s called street art. Artists can paint where they like, as long as they have the permission of the owner and the police leave them to it. The city government has even commissioned some of the local artists to prevent blank walls being covered with fly posters and tags. For this reason, the city attracts street artists from all over the world to paint here.
Plaza de Mayo
Anyone with a grievance to air – and there are many, as protesting is Argentina’s national sport – comes down to wave a placard at the Casa Rosada, the president’s palace in the Plaza de Mayo. All of which makes a far more moving (and photographically interesting) spectacle than the big pink building itself. You’ll find war veterans in one corner, piqueteros (the professional protestors) in another, and on Thursday afternoons, the Mothers of the Disappeared, whose silent march for their missing children, kidnapped by the military dictatorship of the 70s and 80s, is the most powerful of all.
You don’t have to travel very far out of the capital to find a gaucho. It’s a common misconception that these guys are all dressed up for the tourists, but gaucho culture throughout Argentina is alive and kicking (like the horse you’re just about to mount for that relaxing pony trek). Their horsemanship is, naturally, devastatingly impressive, but particularly when saddled up the traditional way, legs akimbo on top of a thick sheepskin rug.
By: Anna Longmore, regular contributing writer to The Real Argentina