Travel in Latin America
Buenos Aires is the home of Evita and the Tango, and has an infectious quality of life that will have you itching to go back. During my six months of travelling, this capital city was one of the few places that left a natural buzz in my body and a taste for more. Its vibrancy and spirit are infectious, and ignite a spark inside you that will take a while to put out.
The city is one full of rich history, and with a passion for food and the arts, no one will have a better word to say about it than the Argentines themselves.
With the energy and enthusiasm that oozes from every person on every street corner, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the colourful stories of politics and history, or the biographies of legendary poets, singers and dancers who emerged from this passion driven capital.
Music and Dancing
What struck me instantly about Buenos Aires was the music. It will follow you everywhere; whether it be the distinctive sounds of the Tango King, Carlos Gardel emerging from somebody’s kitchen window, or a group of drummers parading their way down a busy shopping street (Florida Street is the main shopping area), the beats will transform your movements into a rhythm before you’ve even realised.
Even whilst minding my own business at the famous antiques market in San Telmo, I was swept up by a group of musicians who had spotted me tapping my feet to their drums and trumpets, and before I knew it I was being led around the cobbled street by a smooth-moving elderly Argentine man, who I believe could dance better than he could walk! People began to join in, and soon enough, the whole street was transformed into dancing feet.
They say that dancing is a form of therapy which releases endorphins and is good for the body and soul; dancing in the middle of a market in Buenos Aires is the best therapy I’ve ever had!
La Casa Rosada
It is hard to ignore the politics of a country when its Presidential offices are in the form of a Pink House. Literally. The Casa Rosada is known to be one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires, and is probably best recognised for Eva Peron’s famous renouncement speech from its balcony. The house sits at the end of the Plaza de Mayo, a square which since the1580 foundation of Buenos Aires has played host to many of the most important political protests of the city and of Argentina. We were in fact lucky enough to witness one; even a protest was a loud and colourful event!
La Bomba del Tiempo
Amongst the independent fashion designers markets in Palermo, the antiques market in San Telmo, the sensuous tango shows in low-lit bars, the deliciously mouth-watering value for money steaks, the jaw-dropping architecture and vibrant art and literature, there is one event that cannot go unspoken….
La Bomba del Tiempo. This unmissable show is nothing like I have ever experienced before and had never heard of, until our hostel told us we would be mad to miss it.
La bomba takes place every Monday night (who cares if there’s work the next day) and is a popular, often sold out, percussion frenzy at Ciudad Cultural Konex, an old converted oil factory.
This is essentially two hours of madness beginning at 8pm and ending at 10pm, where a group of 17 musicians take to the stage, and over the course of the 2 hours their drumming gets louder and faster. As you would imagine, this consequently affects the audience who are taken along for the ride in the form of hypnotic drum beats. It is all improvised, yet conducted through different hand signals, and you cannot help but be mesmerised by the sheer talent and co ordination.
Let me stress, La Bomba is not for the feint hearted. As the drumming gets louder and faster, the crowd reacts a little crazier. Before we knew it we were in the middle of a pit of people jumping up and down and pushing each other around playfully. If there was ever a more poignant moment for the expression “if you can’t beat them, join them”, this was it. We found ourselves caught up in the excitement and soon realised it was mainly the women who couldn’t escape being pushed and lifted up into the middle of a dysfunctional circle. As luck would have it, it was National Women’s Day, and the females in the room were most definitely not being ignored!
By the time the two hours were up, flip flops had been lost, and bodies were sweat drenched; all in the name of drumming! At 10pm the crowds started to disperse and it was off to work the next day…Only in Buenos Aires!