There was something strangely familiar about San Telmo, the first bolt-hole of our adventures. A traditional barrio (district) about 20mins walk south of Buenos Aires city centre it felt like Hockley in Nottingham or the northern quarter in Manchester. Rejuvenating but edgy, run down but somehow sparkling. Beyond the broken pavements and derelict buildings, this place has a real fashion to it and a dash of class. Bohemian Sunday markets and laid back bars yes, but it’s not hippyish. It’s something else. The locals say it’s touristy but doesn’t feel it. Especially away from the main thoroughfare of Defensa there’s a feeling to me of what life is like in this part of the city. I really felt comfortable in the place.
We had the great fortune to meet some wonderful people in San Telmo, all really stemming from going to Tango Argentino lessons one evening that never seemed to start. Nevertheless alcohol was available and we met an Irishman called Sean who invited us out later that week to a local milonga (a tango dance night). At the milonga, we had our first taste of trying tango and Gemma, in particular was shown the moves by Oscar, a Puerto Rican following his dreams in BA. I’m glad he led her around the dance floor for a while as I was doing a terrible job, as I’m sure Gemma’s toes will agree!
We concluded our time at San Telmo with a traditional Asado (read lots of meat over hot wood embers) at Sean and Oscar’s homely shared house. After food and great chats we went out – at the early time for the locals of 1am – along cobbled streets with redundant tram tracks that were made in Sheffield to a pub called ‘Gibraltar’ were they served pale ale and the bar was made in Newcastle Upon Tyne. No wonder San Telmo felt like home!