Buenos Aires – I’ve mentioned a few times the weekend fairs that seem to occur in almost every park in the city. Following up on last weekend’s trip out to the Feria de Mataderos, I thought I’d give you a small taste of a few of them that we’ve visited recently. Even for locals, its a common pastime on weekends to spend an hour or so at a fair somewhere, just wandering, even if leaving the trinkets to be bought up by the tourists.
Possibly the most famous fair in Buenos Aires is the Feria de San Pedro Telmo held every Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00, in and around Plaza Dorrego in the barrio San Telmo. The core of the fair is located in the plaza itself and focuses on antiques and, well, junk. It’s a giant flea market for people who like to collect things. Empty seltzer bottles, coins, old bills, books, cutlery, and costume jewelry are the main things found here. Branching off from the plaza, primarily along Calle Defensa is a more artesanal, and arts and crafts street fair. Everything from souvenir level sketches, drawings, and paintings to t-shirts and fake “native garb” can be found here. This part of San Telmo is also home to a large number of antique shops, and most of these are open during the fair hours. Street performers and musicians entertain the crowds, restaurants offer promotions, you can easily spend a day here. Prices vary – there are deals to be found, but for the most part, you’ll pay for the touristy experience.
Near to the much visited Recoleta Cemetery, in the beautiful Plaza Francia, is the Paseo Recoleta or Paseo de los Manualidades fair, held every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 until 7:00. The fair winds its way along the pathways of this park, even crossing the major avenue, Libertidad, and continuing on the other side. The focus here is arts and crafts – ceramics, glasswork, woodwork, cloth, and jewelry – all handcrafted, and generally being sold directly by the artist. Prices tend to be decent values – though higher than some of the smaller arts and crafts fairs around the city, mostly just because Recoleta is a wealthier neighborhood, and their are a lot of tourists visiting the cemetery and the nearby museums. It’s not at all surprising at this fair to hear far more English, French, and German being spoken than Spanish.
Much more irregular are the fairs that occur in the smaller parks around the city. This particular Sunday there was a special festival dedicated to the preservation of the culture of the indigenous peoples of Paraguay, primarily the Guarani. Not surprisingly, it was held in Plaza de Paraguay, at the intersection of Larrea and Pacheco de Melo, in Recoleta. The fair showcased native art, especially clothwork and pottery. There were a few food stands, offering up a selection of empanadas (ground beef and lots of egg, mildly spicy), chipas (a traditional bread made with tapioca flour and cheese), and torta negra (spice cake). The promoter of the fair was giving a pretty much non-stop speech about the various problems of the loss of the indigenous culture and language, and what Paraguayans in Argentina could do about it, punctuated with recordings of native speakers in their various idioms. There were no indigenous folk in evidence.