Usually, I avoid Calle Florida at all costs.
Pedestrianized streets are great. I wish there were more of them. But Christ on a crutch! It's hard to walk down that street without feeling ogled, marked, jostled . . . and icky.
It's crowded with wide-eyed tourists in safari hats and lined with businesses gleefully fleecing them. Not that there aren't plenty of locals there, too. Because there are.
In fact, I would say that of the city's 3 million people, at any given moment, most of them are on Calle Florida. Standing right in my goddamn way.
But the other day I stuffed my wallet and my camera deep into my pocket, steeled myself, and took a stroll down Florida.
It was a warm evening, but Calle Florida was not warm. So many air-conditioned stores had their doors open that the cool air poured onto the street. It was disconcerting.
The street is usually full of touts and street artists, most of whom I habitually ignore.
But the guys in the photo above were way too good to ignore.
They looked like hell, like they'd just rolled out of bed for this 8pm performance. (I was hoping they'd ask the crowd for requests so that I could shout "Take a freaking shower and cut your hair!")
But they sounded great — well-rehearsed, but loose. More than the usual number of jaded porteños stopped to listen for a bit. And I stopped to listen for a few minutes too. I would have stayed even longer, but I had somewhere to go.
What? You think I just spend half my time wandering aimlessly around the city?
OK. You're right. I do.