La Boca is the least of your worries...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Falling in love is an amazing thing. It envelopes and consumes you, inspires and enlightens you; seduces you into poor decisions; makes you lose all sense and caution with money; it makes you a different person. You see - I've fallen in love. With Buenos Aires. How could I not? She's beautiful and elegant; stylish and cultured; exciting, intriguing, fascinating, splendid. Sure - she's tried to kill me a couple of times, but that's all part of a healthy relationship, isn't it? During these last 2 weeks, Buenos Aires has captured me completely. From the antique markets in San Telmo to the designer boutiques of Palermo Soho; from near death crushing at the football to the ballet and the opera at the Teatro Colon; from a quiet beer at the foot of the obelisk to seeing the sunrise over the water from Pacha - everything about this city has captured me completely. Yep - I'm in love with Buenos Aires. The question is - how do I tell Hong Kong?

How good is avoiding death? Not dying? Brilliant. Going to La Boca makes you appreciate not dying. Notoriously one of Buenos Aires's dodgiest areas, La Boca is also considered a spiritual heartland of the city - the brightly coloured houses of the Caminito, the street art, the passion for football, the tango - all contributing to its immense charm. In its touristy areas, where the paint of the caminito glows at its most vibrant, there is little danger. But wander a few blocks away and you'll see it. Fuck - you'll feel it. Asian guy walking down the street? Brilliant - target. There's a massive cross on his head. And then there's the football...

There's something about having firecrackers thrown at you that makes being crushed pale in comparison. Same as being spat on for an entire football match. And, while we're on the subject, it's a similar deal for having unidentified liquids being tipped over you frequently. All of them at the same time is a complete domination. Welcome to a Boca Juniors game. At the legendary La Bombonera. Where it all started for Maradona. My question is - whose idea was it to put the fucking away supporters right above the Boca stand? Perfect placement to maximise death. Good thinking. So, as the taunts come from the Boca supporters below, random stuff of all sorts flies over the edge of the stand and into the crowd below. It rained spit. All game. Random liquids everywhere. I don't want to know what they were. The occasional firework as well. A disgusting yet incredible experience - an insight into the craziness, fanaticism, hatred and disrespect that dominates Argentinean football. Despite all of this, the game was amazing - the stadium and atmosphere stunning and spectacular. Overwhelming at times. Brilliant. River Plate one week. Boca the next. Travelling the world watching football? Living the dream.

If Argentina had its own version of monopoly, Recoleta would be Mayfair. Your dog or boot lands on Recoleta with a hotel on it? $2000. Do it. Recoleta is your typical ritzy neighbourhood, filled with enormous, gorgeous 18th and 19th century mansions, the lush green of the countless parks of the area a constant as you wander around the area. The jewel of recoleta is its cemetery. I know what you're thinking - that's a bit fucking weird. But the cemetery is famous for the architecture of its grand tombs of Argentina's wealthy - the elite - including Eva Peron. Recoleta cemetery. Interesting. Decent.

Leaving a love is difficult. But there's an old Shakespearean saying isn't there... about love. I can't quite remember it now. Something about love and stuff, loss or something like that being better. There was probably a ´tis´in there as well. You know what I'm talking about. But I also like the sentiment of a resident of Perth who said ´congratulations on finding the city of your dreams'. It does feel like an achievement. Beauty, football and near death - living the dream.

So, to the Top 5. Before I came to South America, people kept warning me - be careful. Kidnapping, muggings, drugs, falling of a mountain or getting kicked by a llama. Just watch out and you'll be fine. But no one ever tells you about the thing that's most likely to kill you in South America - the food in Argentina. It should, more appropriately, be called 'Argentinean food of the devil of the death straight from fucking hell'. Now, in truth, it's not the food entirely, but the stupid, ludicrous, completely taking-the-piss deals that are offered that have me, as I leave Buenos Aires, with one foot in a coffin. Here are the top 5 Buenos Aires food offers sure to kill you:

5. Hot dogs. Guess what they're called here. Superpanchos. Good name. 50c Australian. Normal hot dog not your style? Chorizo it up. In a bun. Get in there. $1. Awesome.

4. Pizza of the devil of the death. One pizza shop - all it does is margherita pizza. Super fatty. Heaps of cheese. Big fuckers like death. $2. Killing me.

3. Super combo of the devil. Hamburger, chips and glass of coke. $1.50. I'm finding it hard to breathe. You're joking me.

2. Tenedor libre. All you can eat. Meat. All the greasy meat you want. And all the other stuff as well. $4. Silly. Damn silly - even for this town. I feel my arteries closing up.

1. El Alamo bar. 24 hours. Get this - free beer from midday - midnight. Fuck off. That's bullshit. Free pizza from 3 - 8pm. What? How am I meant to survive this city? Death is certain. Tell my parents I love...

I need to get out. Not dying? Brilliant.

To Cordoba...
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