Tours and Activities:
Caminito, With an Oil AromaPablo EtcheversPablo Etchevers
La Boca is a tango of wet cobbles and calico skies painted in many colors. It is going back to the past in order to remember or forget, as you like it. And Caminito is its core, as if it was a disease spreading about from mouth to mouth among friends.
Like a Giant Chocolate Box
La Boca is soccer. La Bombonera (chocolate box) -as the Stadium of Boca Juniors is called due to its shape, which resembles a giant chocolate box- was inaugurated in 1940. It is painted in the team colors: yellow and blue. The same colors of the Swedish flag waving on a boat moored at the harbor on the day the club members were deciding upon the colors of the banners. These colors were printed on the new team on a cold morning in 1905, just a little bit more than a century ago.
Other 23 sports are practiced there and its façade is a mural created by plastic artist Pérez Célis, specially painted for the stadium. The venue can seat 60,000 people and gathers a great number of fans of this team in each match. There are so many enthusiasts of this team that the bosteros are usually called “half the country plus one”. And as a result of the great number of international titles they have won, they have earned respect from foreign visitors. Oh!… La Boca is Maradona. I almost forgot...
The History of the Neighborhood
La Boca (the mouth) was originally the first Buenos Aires harbor. It was called that way in reference to the Riachuelo, which would empty into the Río de la Plata in the shape of a big mouth.
It used to be a place where many Italian immigrants, especially from Genoa, would settle down to build their houses on high sidewalks due to frequent floods.
Among these immigrant families, were the parents of painter Benito Quinquela Martín, who in spite of not being his biological parents, took care of him and raised him in La Boca surrounded by the smell of the Riachuelo, the colorful houses and the high sidewalks. Later on, young Quinquela would start his work as an artist by painting marvelous portraits of the harbor sceneries from his childhood.
Quinquela is La Boca, but whoever reaches this neighborhood cannot miss a visit to the Quinquela Martín Museum, where he himself founded the first Museum School in the country where his own work is displayed along with works by other Argentinian artists who have perfectly caught the spirit of the area, just like him.
Quinquela, a visionary man, donated the land where the museum stands today, as well as a lot for the building of a kindergarten and another lot to build a theater, where the Teatro de la Ribera functions today, also within the Republic of La Boca, like the neighbors call it.
As If the Master Had Painted It
Despite its small size, Caminito is a favourite tour for visitors to Buenos Aires.
In the early twentieth century, the street would be a real garbage dump where even the authorities would accumulate trash which would then be transported on trucks to fill in other parts of the city.
Today, things have changed completely and, as we walk down this alley, we can see a brief but perfect sample of the typical physiognomy of La Boca, its conventillos, its plates, its polluted river and barges. And its people, of course.
Many colors, much tango, canteens all around and a vast exhibition of paintings and photographs by various street artists, as well as a handicrafts market, are part of the daily routine for whoever comes to appreciate this nook of the city.
Couples dancing tango and inviting viewers to dance with them in exchange for a photograph that will always remain in their memories are classical from Sundays. Pizza de cancha (stadium pizza, no cheese) or a large mozzarella and anchovy pizza are enough to keep on assuring that La Boca is, was and will keep on being Italy forever.
Today, the foul-smelling Riachuelo and the rusty Avellaneda Bridge complete the scenery at Vuelta de Rocha, where dozens of cafés, canteens and restaurants invite visitors to sit down and enjoy an endless moment.
And just look. Think... Write, just like bright Peñaloza did when he wrote the lyrics of the most famous alley in the world. It was just thinking about her….
little road, my friend,... I'm leaving too.
Since she left... she has never returned,
I'll follow her steps,... Good-bye, little road.