Thursday, March 6, 2008

Calle Florida

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.


Lor said...

I'm not a fan of crowded places either. I hate being jostled and bumped into. Its seriously annoying, I think i may be borderline agoraphobic. Am I using the right word?

Esteban said...

You meant "Take a freaking shower, cut your hair, and get off my lawn!", right?

Matt said...

You know, I agree with you about's a total nightmare. But on my first ever visit to BA back in December 2003, I walked down that street and fell in love with the city. December is by far my favourite month in BA, the schools and unis have broken up, Christmas is coming, everyone's happy, the bars are full every night and there's a tangible energy that i've only ever felt in New York before. It's the one thing that's truly special about Buenos Aires, that energy. And i first felt it along Florida. So, despite it being a rip off and a hellish version of hell, I still have a place in my heart for Calle Florida.

Shame it's 39094 times more expensive than it was in December 2003.

Damn, I almost posted a comment without mentioning inflation but I just couldn't help myself. How much are taxis these days?

Dan said...

Yes to all of the above, except to Matt who didn't have the courtesy to ask a yes-or-no question.

Like Buenos Aires itself, the fare for a cab ride is not quite as bad as it could be but not what it once was.