A must see as a tourist, without any doubt, is the smaller part of La Boca called Caminito – the little path. It is a bit like an open-air museum, where you can admire cheerfully painted houses and enjoy tango demonstrations in the streets.
La Boca (on Google Maps)is also one of the poorer neighbourhoods and, with the exception of Caminito, it is normally not advised to wander around or walk off the main roads, because of possible muggings.
My first expedition to La Boca was quite an adventure. We decided to walk to Caminito, we took a shortcut (against every travel guide’s recommendation ) and almost instantly got lost. The very first moment we noticed we were nowhere near Caminito, was when the tarmac of the streets changed to actual earth and the houses started to look quite shabby.
Right away, I started feeling a slight unease… a small crowd of youngsters, with big looking dogs, were standing at the end of the street, turning slowly around to face us. With a flicker of panic in my eyes, I looked over to my boyfriend who was wondering, how on earth we had ended up here (in Buenos Aires the streets are build in a symmetrical manner, like in NY).
I must admit that at that precise moment, the thought of “getting mugged by a dangerous gang with combat dogs, being left there to die alone in an isolated street of La Boca, with my mum not knowing what happened to me” shot into my head. What also dramatized the situation was, me, feeling very European with my fair blond hair, clutching my very big red handbag while shifting from one foot to the other.
The guys started to walk towards us. Suddenly a tiny old man, looking even shabbier than the surrounding houses, and with just one tooth, made us some signs. « Ojo » he said, which means « watch out ! » (Unfortunately, I didn’t understand any Spanish at that moment). Confronted with my baffled face, he then started to throw a stream of words at my boyfriend.
In short, what he said was: You shouldn’t be going there. It’s very dangerous. Come with me. I’m driving you out of here.
The choice between, either continuing our trip through La Boca by foot or getting in an extremely rusty and noisy pick-up car with a one-toothed senior citizen was quickly made!
He was a nice chap, chatting with us, while trying to munch a sandwich (with one tooth), but in the end, he got us safely back to the main road!
So, what should you keep in mind while going to Caminito:
- Not ALL the streets in Buenos Aires are symmetrical
- If you attempt to get lost in La Boca, try not to take your biggest and “reddest” handbag with you
- Do trust one-toothed men