on April 25, 2008
La Boca is probably the most visually entertaining barrio in Buenos Aires. All of the buildings are relatively low lying and small but what is interesting is that each is painted a very bright color. On many building each portion of the very same building is painted a different color all the way down the street leading to a neighborhood that almost looks like a collection of legos piled down both sides of the street. The main street is lined with tourist shops and vendors selling an array of goods. People also dance tango and perform in the streets for tips which was fun to watch. While La Boca is a great place to visit it is not known for being one of the safer neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. The people are generally friendly and kind but it is a poor neighborhood and it is not usually recommended to venture off of the main street which is called Caminito. Walking along Caminito is perfectly safe it is just important to be on guard, aware and keep your eyes out. As long as you aren't being stupid you will be just fine. We met a girl from the states when we were down there that was studying abroad who had gone to Boca with her digital camera hanging from her arm on a string. She said a 5 year old kid came up to her, kicked her, ripped the camera off her arm and ran away down an alley. It was kind of funny in retrospect and indicative of the crime that occurs in La Boca. You don't have to worry about violent crime just petty theft for the most part. Be aware of your wallet and don't leave your camera dangling when you are not using it. There is also a fairly good chance you will see a march or protest going on in the area. We walked right by one where there was a crowd of a few hundred people with banners chanting down the street. We just walked right by, they won't bother you. There are a few interesting landmarks in the Boca area that are worth checking out. The first is the Avellaneda Bridge. You will pass this bridge on the way into the Boca barrio. It is kind of ugly looking to be honest but what is notable about it is that it was designed by the same guy that did the Eiffel Tower. You can definately tell by looking at it that it has the same style of iron work and is really evocative of the supports of the Eiffel. The second landmark in Boca is the Bombanera Stadium where the La Boca Juniors soccer team plays. They are the cross town rivals of River Plate over in the Palermo area. To see the stadium you have to venture off the Caminito which is not "recommended" but we did it and never felt threatened or in danger. As you approach it is will just pop out of the neighborhood like a giant wall in front of your face all of a sudden. The houses literally go almost right up to the edge of the stadium unlike those in America that have acres of parking surrounding the structure. There wasn't a game going on when we were there but there was still a really cool souvenir shop open right next to the stadium that sold all kinds of stuff with the team logo. Boca is definately worth a visit just keep your guard up and you'll be fine.
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