Buenos Aires' original port, La Boca decayed over the last century when the ships stopped coming. A down-at-the-heels working-class neighborhood, it has been a hotbed of far left politics and a site for demonstrations, especially during the financial crisis of 2002.
La Boca has a long history of rebellion. Once it even seceded from Argentina.
A tile mural shows the port during its glory days. Some of us are old enough to remember when the sight of tall brick chimneys belching black smoke meant prosperity.
The scene reminds me of riding on the Hoboken ferry to Canal Street in New York. I still feel nostalgic when I smell coal smoke.
Tourists are drawn to La Boca, supporting a renaissance. Buildings are colorful and everybody wants to photograph them. Can you imagine?
The image on the lower right is of Garibaldi Street, where Nazi Adolph Eichmann lived until captured by Mossad agents.
One street, the Caminito, is a tourist trap. A handful of waiters and performers are locals. The remainder, a vast majority, are visitors aiming cameras somewhere.
On the right we have Justin posing in a fighter's stance while Cyndi takes his picture. Ha ha. They'll love that one in Dubuque, Justin.
Below left, a couple demonstrates the tango. La Boca claims to be the birthplace of the dance, an assertion that almost certainly is spurious.
I've been here for little more than two weeks and I'm already sick of the tango. If I hear one more accordion pumping out dance music, I'm going to go wocka wocka.
On the right, a man is bemused... or something... by a mannequin's costume.
Everyone is acting crazy. Only the dog is doing something rational.
The waterfront, a few steps from Caminito, boasts La Boca's landmark bridge, an ugly sucker built in 1914.
The harbor, the Riachuelo, is said by one writer to have been "a repository of cattle carcasses, oil, oxidized metals and assorted toxins..." Good thing they got it cleaned up.
Poverty is just around the corner, giving ears to populist politicians.
Both of these dwellings are flanked on either side by colorful renovated buildings frequented by tourists.
The value of the cameras we visitors carried that day would have lifted the entire population out of want.
But hey, the economy continues to improve. Some Argentineans at least are doing well. Might as well share a mate with a friend. Just ignore the little girl on the balcony across the street.
The party goes on. Papier mâché sculptures of Juan and Eva Perón, along with Boca Juniors player Diego Maradona, smile down on passers-by, poor and rich alike.
The residents of La Boca worship false heros: a fascist, a second-rate actress playing president, and a defrocked soccer star. Their choices are emblematic of the repeated failures of this beautiful country, a land of promise denied.