Claire Shrader is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Pre-Occupational Therapy major at Mississippi College, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
In this week's post, Claire shares how going on a walking tour of Buenos Aires brought an academic course to life.
It’s so easy to learn language on the colectivos chatting with the people who press in around you, asking where they’re headed and finding out what their day holds. Or in time with tango as you let your feet learn a new language of their own. Or in the plaza where the kids play and shout it out in a way that only kids can. Or in the phrases you need to request a café con leche, with azucar, please. I’ve found that my time in Argentina has stretched and grown my Spanish in ways I never even imagined it would.
Bianca the friendly cat is a must-visit attraction!
Buenos Aires has been my greatest teacher this semester, and my Global Cities class has given me a great chance to learn more about the city. We talk about the city in regards to the world, and what makes it unique from the rest of South America or even the cities we call home. We’ve learned its history and discussed class issues and economic issues, and last week we took the class to the street to combine what we observe in our day to day with what we learn in the classroom.
Our walking tour started in La Boca.
The most incredible tour guide and a new friend, Ana, took us on a walking tour of the city, and gave us the opportunity to visit traditional tourist spots, while coaching us in how to look even deeper. We began our tour in La Boca, which is THE most touristy part of Buenos Aires. I’ve been in El Caminito twice in high school, so I laughed as we made our way again and I took the same exact pictures I took 5, 6 years ago. It’s bizarre, because images of La Boca are always featured when a vacation to Buenos Aires is proposed, yet its colorful buildings and corrugated roofs are very much not a regular part of the cityscape.
Ana gave us a little bit of that background: La Boca has historically been an area for immigrants and naval workers, since it’s right on the port. As you often find in port cities, it was full of artists, too. It transformed as an arts community, and blended the two most common careers of La Boca together in a unique way. Many of the houses were constructed with leftover boat materials, hence the corrugated tin and narrow staircases you see in the following picture, narrow and long, because that’s how they were in the boats.
I took this same shot of La Boca years ago. It's cool to be back!
Ana shared the heartbreaking and incredible story of Quinquela Martín, an Argentine artist who lived and worked in La Boca. He painted scenes of people working in the port, a task typically not viewed with beauty, with splashes of bright, exuberant colors—putting brightness into the harsh realities of that work and the poverty of the neighborhood. Soon, the colors of his paintings became the colors of La Boca, making it one of the most unique neighborhoods in Buenos Aires today.
A traditional Argentinian dish: Budin with Dulce de Leche.
We walked through other main points of the city, like La Boca stadium, El Bombonero, and San Telmo. We ate lunch at a pulpería, a delightful restaurant where we could hear the rain under the plastic covering in the outdoor patio. Pulperías were sort of general stores/restaurants where travelers often paused in the middle of their long journeys through the countryside, and this one mimicked it, with its very traditional Argentine food (and wonderful low price!). I tried Locro, which I won’t comment on, because the reader must try it for him/herself without prior opinion, hehe.
Locro. Try it.
Overall, we had a simply marvelous time, and it was incredible to get to experience the city alongside Ana, with her invaluable perspectives and talent at getting us to really analyze what makes Buenos Aires the city that it is. Hands down, this was my favorite “classroom” experience this semester.
Our little tourist group with Ana!
If you ever find yourself in the lovely Buenos Aires, you have to contact Ana Carolina Kliauga (@arctoursba on Instagram)! She will give you a view of the city you won’t find without her.
Claire's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.