There is some uncertainty as to the origin of the name of the old port area known as La Boca, the obvious explanation would be that the area lies at the mouth, or la boca in Spanish, of the small river Riachuelo.
In fact the connection to the Italian city is so strong that in 1882 La Boca actually seceded from Argentina and briefly flew the Genoese flag.
We noticed the Italian influence as we walked from the bus to the famous Caminito, or little road. At the top of the tiny street we were immediately accosted by tango dancers who had an overwhelming desire to have their picture taken with us… for a fee of course. But hey, it gave us an opportunity to whip out our tango faces one more time, so we figured it was worth it.
Moving up the way into the restaurants, tango halls and crap shops that line the Caminito, we were hit by barkers at almost every establishment. It seemed like not a single storefront let us pass without a pitch.
Whimsical statues adorn most balconies in La Boca
This was by far the most touristy section of Buenos Aires that we had seen, to the point that it made it hard to appreciate the very cool old construction underneath all of the hucksterism.
We did our best to ignore the onslaught and see past it, but finally we decided to try to find the real neighborhood behind the facade and wandered a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle.
That is where we found the authentic versions of the colorful corrugated metal houses that were the inspiration for the bright, odd-caricature-statue adorned replicas that line the Caminito.
We also found a little corner cafe where a pizza didn’t cost thirty dollars. It was not the best pie ever, not by a long shot, but as usual we found the unvarnished real life experience to be far superior to the sanitized version put forth for the tourist trade.
So we hung out, talked with our vibrant, outgoing waitress, watched the show that the neighborhood dogs put on, and generally just took it all in.
When the afternoon sun turned soft we set out through the tourist traps once again, content that we had experienced something close to what La Boca once was.
Just before turning the corner from the Caminito to catch our bus, we looked back and gave one more tango face, just for good measure.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
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