Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
Trip End Oct 31, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Buenos Aires F.D.,
Sunday, November 13, 2011


Sunday November 13-DAY 7

Journey: San Telmo to Mataderos- one hour bus trip

Weather: Hot and sunny 28*C

As usual we had a good night's sleep and got up with energy and enthusiasm for another adventure.

During our time here, we kept breakfast supplies in the kitchen- cereal and fruit- and ate each day before we set off. By midday it was time for coffee and snacks at a 'confiteria’ and then we would have a late lunch in a recommended restaurant and if it was after 4pm we would just have a salad or something light for dinner. We made a good attempt to try all the local foods.

We needed to change more dollars into pesos and check out the local San Telmo street market before getting our bus to  Mataderos. 

At the San Telmo market, the main street Defensa and smaller ones were closed to traffic and the plaza and streets were packed with artisans, musicians, food sellers etc. and all the restaurants and shops were open; it was a magic atmosphere on this sunny morning. We lingered a while to see a couple doing the tango, such a passionate and romantic dance and heard some lovely melodies played by two guitarists.

The market seemed to be for both locals and tourists and people looked happy as they made their way through the crowds.

Our destination was another market, quite some distance from here "Feria (market) de Mataderos" that only opened Sundays and we were told that some remnants of the old gaucho culture could be found.

The bus we had to catch we knew, but where was the bus stop? After some very detailed directions, we realised that we were heading the wrong way but happily located the stop some blocks away. We told the driver where we were going and Sheila asked could he let us know when to get off. It was an interesting journey through the suburbs of BA and people got on and off; Kath noticed an intersection that rang a bell and Sheila checked with the driver who apologised that he had forgotten us, but not to worry, we had not gone too far past the market.

It was colourful and busy, but still early at the plaza, and we enjoyed looking at the arts and crafts and noticed guys in cowboy costumes wandering around and some fine horses being led through the streets. There were quite a lot of leather products and artifacts that we had not seen

It was coffee time and we chose a busy confiteria to take a break; we noticed that a woman was attending the door to the toilet in the café and found out that she was charging for toilet paper but use of the toilet was free. We had been warned to carry paper as toilets don’t supply. Just a note of interest here- public toilet are virtually non-existent in BA so toilet stops need to be planned.

The plaza was getting busy now and we heard dancing music and found the crowds had assembled to watch and join the costumed dancers stepping and twirling the handkerchief dance and the “chacareros”, a traditional gaucho dance.


It was a magic moment and we stayed and took pleasure in this unexpected treat.  The male and female stepped enticingly towards each other and then just before contact, they would with the flick of the handkerchief turn away. The men wore cowboy boots and did a bit of stomping to add to the fun.

A large parade of riders and horses marched along the streets and Sheila found out for us that today was a special day of tradition, keeping alive these old traditions despite the modern world and loss of old ways of life.

This was always a poor area, where the slaughter houses processed the cattle for food and the local people worked; in fact “Mataderos” translates to “slaughter houses”.

A feature of the market today was the many huge parillas/charcoal barbecues set up around the plaza and they were doing good business; the “choripan” is a whopping big sausage sandwiched in a crunchy bread roll, which we had sampled elsewhere and seemed a popular choice.

This had been a happy event for us; the traditions, dancing and art of the gaucho was a look into a life that was disappearing in modern Argentina.

We caught our bus back to San Telmo with recommendations to our fellow travellers that this was a worthwhile trip. Don’t miss it if you are in BA on a Sunday

Apart from these two fabulous markets we found the large one in Recoleta very interesting as well, packed with tiny stalls selling good quality items. We left empty handed and our money belt intact. For souvenirs of the country these markets are a good option.

On our return to San Telmo we made our way through Plaza Dorrego and noticed that a "milonga" was in progress; we are always on the lookout for these events where people get together to dance the tango and some of the participants were very skilled and exciting to watch. We have been reluctant to attend a "tango show" and hope to see less professional exponents of the dance on the floor.

A noisy Brazilian band was weaving its way through the street and the whole atmosphere was happy and energetic.

Back in our apartment we had to pack for our trip to Iquazu, early monday morning and with a 15 kilo weight restriction on luggage we had to leave some stuff behind. Angela was happy for us to store some gear upstairs in the attic which was great.

We said goodbye to the lovely Turkish couple, Gamze and Ozhan who with high energy crammed in so much in their short time in BA and to the German pair - he wanted to get a job in BA but she wanted to make sure that it was ok for her, so she was staying on to study Spanish and get to know the city while he was flying back to Germany. We spent good times with both, swapping experiences and stories!
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