Daily Archives: April 3, 2009

Feria de Mataderos

This has been a particularly bad tango week for me, I am working extra shifts which are accumulating for my next Argentina trip. No Tango at all this week, and it is unlikely that I will even make Dans salsa class, so as promised I will tell the story of another of my Buenos Aires Photos.

The search for a property was not going well, every place we looked at was either too far off completion or there was something we did not like. After yet another fruitless viewing we stopped in a cafe on Corrientes for coffee.

We talked about all the places that we had visited, and Pericles asked if we had been to The Feria de Mataderos yet. “Never heard of it ” we said. Pericles said it was on every Sunday and we should go. He called the waiter over and asked how to get there. “it is simple” he said “just catch the no 92 collectivo (bus) on Guardia Vieja it will take you right to it”

So Sunday morning fresh from Luba’s and filled with croissants and toast, we walked the ten or eleven blocks to Guardia Vieja. Still not fully aware of how things work, we believed catching a bus would be easy. As we arrived on the street we looked for a bus stop, there was simply no sign.

As we walked up the street a number 92 passed us by, with obviously no intention of stopping. We walked fully the length of the street without seeing a single stop, and at the far end found a Jumbo (one of Argentina’s largest hypermarkets ) Viv was excited at this, as we had by now decided on our apartment which was about eight blocks away.

Viv insisted we go in and look around. Inside they had everything we might need, from fridges and micro waves to cutlery, from bedding to food. Viv at least was happy, I was not. I was getting fed up of walking up and down the street being passed by buses that had absolutely no intention of stopping for two extranjeros.

We walked back down Guardia Vieja, passed the point where we had started, when close to our apartment we saw one of the  buses  stop and someone alight. It was too late for us to catch it, but at least we could see where it had stopped. At the “bus stop” there was no sign, but a tree had once stood at this spot. All we can assume is that the stop sign had been on the tree, and there is no need to replace it, as everyone knows it was there.

So we waited at the tree stump, and sure enough in time the next 92 arrived and stopped for us, hurrah we were on a bus. No idea what to do now I asked the driver “?quanto es a Mataderos?” he threw his head back and almost spat at us “$1.60 en el moneda” we looked behind him and saw the coin machine, I stuck $1.60 in and said “uno o los dos” he just threw his head back again and said “listo” so I guess it was for the two of us.

Something else we gleaned from this exchange was, we would get no help with our destination. The bus sped away along narrow streets, we turned one way then the other, and very soon had no idea where we were. Often we would pass large gatherings of people, and debated whether this could be it, but deciding that as there were no horses, it probably was not.

Eventually we passed a large open space with market type tents and hundreds of people milling about, I asked a girl on the bus if this was the Feria de Mataderos and she said “si”.

Getting off any bus quickly is never easy, crowded Argentine collectivos are no exception, and we missed the stop. Bus stops and buses are the same the world over, when you want one, they are never around, then three come at once. I think we had to walk back from somewhere near the Andies, but eventually we arrived.

The entrance to the ferria was lined with stalls, they sold all the usual tat, but also fruit and vegetables, bread, kitchen utensils, and best of all steak butties. Viv was not enamored with the idea of eating on the street, so we dodged into a small restaurant. As usual here, when you go for a light snack you end up eating enough to make a pig sick.

When we had finished we waddled off with our bellies dragging, to see some of the sights. At the centre of everything was a stage and as we passed a band were just finishing a tango number. We were suprised to see them pack up afterwards, not much of a show  I thought. Five minutes later a different band were on playing folk music, this went on all afternoon, there was a different band every fifteen minutes.

Further down the road the gauchos were riding their horses, going like lunatics and taking something off a scaffold as they passed. Somebody stood by and judged them as they did this and somehow one of them was judged the winner.

At the end of a long enjoyable day we had to catch the bus back. We were now ready for the moneda, and got on the bus like we did it every day.  It was now approaching rush hour and as we made our way back into town the bus got more and more crowded. Everything was ok until a drunken youth got on, he fell about causing chaos, he was poked at every turn by irate old ladies with sticks. Then he threw up over the back of one old dear, this proved too much for her and she attacked him with her stick, kept beating him until she pushed him off at the next stop, without waiting for the bus to come to a standstill.

As we came into town I realised that we were on a different route to when we left, now I had no idea where I was, I recognised nothing. Then we passed Gascon (I saw the street sign) and again we missed the stop. It is probably fortunate that we have come to enjoy long walks in Buenos Aires as yet again it seemed to take an age to get to the next stop.

Finally; Check out the video of the little guy with the big horse.


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