Calle Caminito, La Boca
Buenos Aires, Argentina
website (not sure if it official)
This area originally developed as housing for the African slaves of Argentina in the 16th century. Since this area is nearby both railway lines and the city’s main port, many of Buenos Aires’ slaughter houses and leather tanning factories began to spring up around…La Boca in order to process beef goods for export. These factories produced a fair amount of waste and unfortunately found their way into the Riachuelo (Little River) that lies east of La Boca. During the 19th century, a heavy immigration of Italians, mainly Genovese began populating the Boca area. It is said that many could not afford paint and building materials, so they often bartered with the sailors and shipping industry for their leftover boat supplies. La Boca was, and still is, known for its haphazard construction style and brightly colored buildings. In 1882, La Boca actually seceded from Argentina for a brief period of time. Angry Genovese laborers decided to take action against the allegedly repressive government, but the rebellion was quickly quashed by the president himself, Julio Argentino Roca. The president and his army made a personal visit to La Boca and President Roca personally removed the flag of the Republica Independiente de La Boca (The Independent Republic of La Boca). It is said that when the neighborhood team for La Boca was founded in 1905, they quickly gained a name for themselves as a division 2 team. In 1906, while playing a rival team that had similar colors (Black and white stripes), the teams had a show down. The winner was to win the colors and uniform style and the loser had to go in search of a new uniform style. Boca lost and subsequently had to select new colors. The team decided that the colors of the next ship to enter the port would be the future colors of Boca Juniors. The freighter Drottning Sophia, hailing from Sweden, came into port and the uniform design moving forward was chosen (yellow and blue).
Tango roots, Boca Juniors football passion and everything that is Argentine can be found here. The tourist friendly areas are well-protected by police and local business owners alike. The overall neighborhood is known for being rough, to say the least. Night visits and straying off the tourist path are not recommended.”
La Boca could be a very beautiful and interesting place. Unfortunately, it the biggest tourist trap we have seen in Buenos Aires. So much so, that it isn’t really worth visiting (unless you happen to be close). The area that is heavily protected by police and considered “safe” for tourists measures about three blocks (you still have to watch for pickpockets). We wandered to the edge of the real neighborhood and it is actually quite pretty and looks fairly safe…though we ultimately decided to heed the warnings of just about every tourist book and website. Within the three brightly colored blocks, you will find all of the typical tourist trinkets and some handmade local goods that you could buy for half the price at the Sunday market in San Telmo or Ricoletta. Hungry or thirsty and want to pay a bunch for mediocre food? Just agree to get pulled in by any of the waiters or owners that line the street and beg for your business (to be fair, we didn’t eat or drink anything and a few of these restaurants might be good/ok). One draw to the neighborhood that we didn’t have a chance to explore is the football stadium/team. They have a fierce following and the games are supposed to be quite an experience. We had high hopes for La Boca. It has an interesting history and the people have largely had to prosper without the help of the Argentine government, but as you have read we were let down by its contemporary state.