A Day at the San Telmo Feria
This week we made a foray into San Telmo for the weekend feria (market) and decided to bring you along!
At one time San Telmo was the uppity neighborhood of Buenos Aires. I love it there although the ambiance of Palermo, where we are located now, is far better. San Telmo is the true historical area of Buenos Aires. The old city itself. Many of the streets are irregular old brick. Some still have the old streetcar tracks buried to the rim in the brick, evidence that Buenos Aires was moving up in the world at that time.
Since San Telmo was the hoity-toity part of town at one time, the old buildings are impressive with deteriorating elegance–an abundance of fine old wood and marble. Historically this is the part of town where independence was won in Buenos Aires. The major part of that battle took place on Calle Defensa, one of the streets where we will go today for the feria. But on that memorial day of yore, while the men of Buenos Aires defended the city from the streets, the women and slaves were on the rooftops pouring boiling oil and water on the invading army.
Today San Telmo is peaceful. The street feria that we decided to visit again was populated by crafts people, antique dealers, importers selling items from China, vendors selling food, and actors who make the street their stage, hoping that you will be willing to reach into your pocket and donate for their performance.
This market this week was huge–it went on for blocks and blocks–maybe miles. We stopped a long way short of covering it all. The neighborhood is a very popular area for tourists, partly for the quaintness and partly for the historical aspects. You can see the brick street in this photo. This one is pretty good, but some are so broken up one has to be sure of one’s footing when walking.
San Telmo was populated by the very wealthy until the last of a series of yellow fever epidemics in 1871, which took the lives of 500 people in a single day in a population that usually experienced no more than 20 deaths in a day. It is supposed that the yellow fever came from soldiers returning from Paraguay who brought it with them to Buenos Aires. Not only did San Telmo lose population from the fever, but from people fleeing the area for Palermo, Ricoleta, Belgrano and other parts of the province–and of the country.
San Telmo borders La Boca, which is a less than secure part of the city–but also historically interesting. (Some day we may take you on a trip to La Boca!) For the brave-of-heart San Telmo would be an interesting place to live. But the insecurity (as they call it in Argentina–in the U.S. we would just call it “crime!”) does spill over into San Telmo. But I don’t hesitate to wander around there in the daytime. And I have wandered around at night, without incident.
This is not a statue, though they will amaze you with how long they can stand totally motionless. Not the flicker of an eyelash, although we did talk to this one and saw his eyelids slit as he peeked out at us. But barely. And he kept a straight face and did not move otherwise. You will see the collection can at his feet. I carry small bills to contribute because these people add so much interest. I like them! They are creative in the characters they come up with.
What about this one? Anything look interesting here? Again, antique books and paintings.
And here we have one of the many remaining landmarks of life in San Telmo in the days of long ago. This old brick church. Can you imagine the stories that church could tell us about the people who lived here in the days of her youth?
This will probably be the last day we will see a feria like this one until spring. As you know, seasons are reversed in this hemisphere and as Spring comes to you in the north, Fall is arriving in our part of the world. Buenos Aires has a very mild climate but a pretty nippy wind had picked up before we decided to leave. Also tourist season comes to a close as Winter sets in here, but they sure were there en mass today as you can see!
Well, leaving old San Telmo, we end our fun in the old city. Going home to Palermo and a hot cup of that organic coffee I keep telling you guys about. If you were here I’d offer you a cup too!
Hasta luego, mis amigos, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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Copyright 06/25/2012 Four Flags Journal – all rights reserved.