There is a street which is the widest street in the world—Avenida 9 de Julio. It must be like 12 lanes wide. If we manage to cross it with only one stop in the middle, that is something. We frequently have to wait three times at the lights. When we walk along it we can see a huge obelisk up far, which is a perfect landmark for the entire downtown, which consists of two districts: San Nicolas and Monserrat. Their selected fragments comprise the Microcentro, a non-administrative section which includes all important government buildings and “shopping” streets. I would like to write “tourist streets” as well, but there are unusually few tourists in the entire Buenos. If we want to describe the city, we feel obligated to include this place, but we are not very enthusiastic about it.
We recorded a short film at the beginning, which introduces you to the place which we are describing, and it is the least peaceful part of the city, full of people racing forward and salespeople shouting at us. It is difficult to focus in here. There are streets like Florida, where if you stop for a second, you risk being trampled. Street traffic clearly does not abide by the traffic lights (not that there is any place where they would be exceptionally highly respected, but usually it appears so, at least). Is there anything fun here? There is one thing, which makes us ponder. That is in the entire Buenos you can strongly feel the lack of “tourists”. And we are talking about the capital of a large country—in New York, Bangkok or Paris they are a nightmare. And here they aren’t. Normally, we would be afraid to drink coffee in such a place, because we would know that the price would be outrageous, while, actually, we can do it without any second thoughts.
Two places—Plaza de Mayo and the Congressional Palace (which is an equivalent of the Polish Sejm) are joined by Avenida de Mayo. A walk down the street takes approx 15–25 minutes depending on traffic lights and congestion. The latter is much more common there than at Plaza de Mayo, where a red building named Casa Rosada, which is the official base of operations for the President of Argentina, is located. This has been the main place for political activities since 25 May 1810, i.e. the revolution which gave birth to this country. This is also where protests are currently held—there are tents and infuriated people. The entire Argentina in now undergoing another crisis and we can see smaller and bigger demonstrations every day. At cafés you can hear people talking about politics and the media are showing riots every now and again. Recently, some people broke into the Congressional Palace and stopped a parliamentary session.
After all, this is a capital city, and we also live in one, and we are not surprised—you just have to get used to that. However, Microcentro excessively reminds us of our everyday life, from which we are trying to get away. We discovered Palermo and we are spending more and more time there, but this entry is not about that. Coming back to the downtown area—it should be said that the pictures do not reflect the air of misery, or something similar. Everyone is focused, running, reluctant to smile. Whenever I stop to take a picture, I can hear a person stopping abruptly behind me. On weekends it’s the other way around—the streets are almost empty, which is odd. Those contrasts in Buenos are sometimes surprising—as you are walking down the main street you feel like there is a flood and everybody’s trying to get away from it. A street or two away from it there’s no one, like a ghost street. This is quite scary, especially when you hear about the local ways to rob newcomers. Maybe that’s also why everybody is walking as a part of that stream instead of trying to break away.
So, when are you coming downtown? It’s difficult to stay away from such places in terms of logistics, but, when I look at Buenos, I can see that downtown is not in the centre, but rather entirely on the side. Such port towns tend to spread from the side of the river/sea/ocean. You can exchange dollars at Florida Street, and despite the fact that men whispering behind you “change, dollar, money change” usually evoke other feelings, rather than trust, you can actually make a deal with them. There are many shops here, including those with souvenirs, which cost an arm and a leg, but, if you look around, you can buy everything at local prices. You only need to walk around a bit and seek for logos you are interested in among the multitude of other brands.