Saturday, March 19, 2011

Last Friday, I took the newly inaugurated Línea H to its southern terminal of Cáseros, where I wandered around the bizarre, ⅔ industrial, ⅓ residential barrio that is Parque Patricios.

Best known for its large concentration of hospitals, and former slaughterhouses, the area was plain strange. Out of the three barrios I visited that day (the others were Boedo and San Cristobál, of whom border Pque. Patricios), Pque. Patricios was easily the roughest of the three, with its feel becoming increasingly antsy the further south (towards the stadium) you went. Not a dangerous feeling, or anything, but more of a feeling of not belonging. In a weird twist, most of its low-slung aesthetic is comprised of small-scale industrial uses, such as mechanics, or warehouses. And on any given cobble-stoned side-street, you can see delivery vans zipping around, delivering goods.

The other thing that jumped out at me was how cheap everything is down there. I randomly stumbled upon a small neighborhood cafe - a place with the “barrio” factor turned up to level ten - and ordered a café con leche and three medialunas...for the small price of 8ar. The same item in Palermo or Villa Crespo (the rough-and-tumble, but still gentrifying, historically Jewish and Armenian barrio five blocks to the west of me) would set me back a good 15-16ar; double the price. While I knew that in the past decade or so, Palermo had become a must-have “brand,” I had no clue that price differences were that stark between it and the rest of the city.

Collectively, with its all-star cast of blighted porteño ghettos (keeping it real with: Avellaneda, Bajo Flores, Barracas, Constitución, La Boca, and Nueva) Pompeya and copper-skinned Mestizo and Andean masses, the city’s south must be the Bronx of Buenos Aires.

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