The Secrets that Lie Beneath

Still not adjusted to the time change, we rolled out of bed and were out the door by 1 pm on our way to San Telmo where we would catch the Sunday market. It was particularly difficult today because we learned that polo really works your body. Our thighs, shoulders, forearms, and butts were all very sore.

The weather started to turn on us almost immediately when it started to rain, but thankfully we had packed our raincoats. On we went for the hour-long walk, stopping a few times for 5 or 6 attempted ATM withdrawals (we get a message stating that our card cannot be used at this ATM – unclear why, though it is not consistent across bank chains) and at our newly declared favorite empanada place, La Americana, for some surprise empanadas when we couldn’t fully decipher the Spanish.

We continued on through the rain, happy that our rewaterproofed jackets were doing their job but disappointed that you really can’t regulate your body temperature while wearing one. This led us to sometimes wear it the appropriate way with the armpits unzipped or the inappropriate way with just the hood on our heads and the rest floating with the wind. It was quite the glamour shot, let me tell you.

We made it to the market with the rain letting up some and the vendors beginning to set up once again. And it wasn’t nearly as busy as we has expected, likely from the rain. We walked the length of it, liking a few items but not enough to purchase. We’ve decided that when you travel to new countries for months on end that local markets seem to lose their appeal since a lot tends to be the same and we really have no where to pack any items if we were to purchase them. We did happen to come across one of the couples from the evening before and had a slightly awkward exchange over shoes before proceeding on.

It's a rainy day for a market play!
It’s a rainy day for a market play!
One of the churches in San Telmo.
One of the churches in San Telmo.
It just kept on raining.
It just kept on raining.
Some street art in San Telmo.
Some street art in San Telmo.
Live music helped lighten the mood.
Live music helped lighten the mood.
Fresh OJ from a street vendor.
Fresh OJ from a street vendor.
Doug's verdict, "It's good, but it's no Morocco."
Doug’s verdict, “It’s good, but it’s no Morocco.”
Mafalda, a character from an Argentine comic, was heavily featured on a number of items in the market.
Mafalda, a character from an Argentine comic, was heavily featured on a number of items in the market.

Having completed the circuit, our next stop would be El Zanjon, an archeological site located in the San Telmo neighborhood, and easily enough on the same street as the market.

We attempted to get on a tour but were told that no one else was yet interested in an English tour so she asked us to come back 30 minutes later. We did some walking around the side streets before returning and being told to wait another 15 minutes. Thankfully, this time, there were other interested parties so we soon began. El Zanjon used to be a very rich family’s home before they left at the onset of the cholera epidemic. It was then sold and turned into tenement units/shops. The museum is meant to highlight this transition of uses and it does a spectacular job of doing so. And with the development of the museum, they got a surprise: discovery of the tunnels (after the floor fell in) once used to divert the water and sewage away from the neighborhood and into the river, long since abandoned and turned into storage/trash units for the tenements above. Our English guide walked us through the remains of each of these eras and supplied us with a few anecdotes to take away. You could see where the tenement residents had resorted to using wooden doors to patch their floors. You were also introduced to a very tight room known to have a gloomy history based on the artifacts found within and letters from the former owners. This room, currently located on the level of the tunnels, was once a small room from a house on the old street level. When the wealthy family built over it, they used it to punish slaves. When the building became a tenement it was then turned into a cesspit.

View from inside El Zanjon.
View from inside El Zanjon.
The family cistern.
The family cistern.
View looking back into the house where the kitchen and slaves quarters would be.
View looking back into the house where the kitchen and slaves quarters would be.
In the tunnels.
In the tunnels.
If you look closely you can see where the floor was patched with an old door. Not the most structurally sound design, but you do what you have to do.
If you look closely you can see where the floor was patched with an old door. Not the most structurally sound design, but you do what you have to do.
Layers of plaster peeled away to reveal the different eras of this home.
Layers of plaster peeled away to reveal the different eras of this home.

When we had completed the tour we hopped on the subway for Palermo to visit the Evita Museum. It was located in a very beautiful home but didn’t offer the best experience for non-Spanish speakers. We struggled to follow the order of the various images and artifacts from her life, but managed to glean enough to make it worthwhile. She certainly made an impact with her short time in the spotlight, supporting many social reforms throughout Argentina from school reforms to women’s participation in the polls before passing away at 33. It is no wonder her supporters wanted her to run with her husband as the VP in the next election.

In Palermo, we walked by the zoo and saw these creatures through the fence. They are as big as dogs. With the help of Google, we have since learned that they are capybaras.
In Palermo, we walked by the zoo and saw these creatures through the fence. They are as big as dogs. With the help of Google, we have since learned that they are capybaras.
Some street graffiti in Palermo.
Some street graffiti in Palermo.

We had some time to kill before it was dinner time so we spent it watching puppies in the park, researching dinner options, and roaming the neighborhood. By 8 pm we were enjoying beers at a bar while we waited patiently for anyone to go into the restaurant we had been eyeing for dinner. By 8:45 pm we were done with our beers and no one had entered the restaurant, so we gave in to our non-Argentine ways and went in. We were there by ourselves (Besides the 90s Live Aid concert being shown on the TV) for another 30 minutes before others started showing up. By the time we had completed our meals, 50% of the tables were full. How do they do it? Because it was 10:30 pm and we were exhausted.

Market in Palermo as well!
Market in Palermo as well!

We walked the way home before crashing for the night, knowing that we would have a very early morning.

Daily Walking Mileage: 12.3

Fun Facts:

  • Home in Buenos Aires used to put turtles in their cistern to keep algae down while their neighbors in Uruguay used frogs.
  • Evita Peron was a radio star before becoming one of the icons of the Peronist party.
  • Despite Palermo being one of the most expensive neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, their residents don’t realize that dog poop detracts from its quality. You spend mor time avoiding poop smeared on the sidewalks then enjoying the neighborhood’s charm.

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