After the first settlers of French Basque origin, La Boca soon grew to become an Italian (mostly from Genoa) district of Buenos Aires. This used to be the area where Italian immigrants arrived, and settled in the poorest conditions. They actually built their houses of leftover corrugated iron and other waste found in the nearby harbour and industry on the Riachuelo river. In order to make their neighbourhood more attractive, they decided to paint their houses in bright colours. Obviously, also the paint used actually was leftover paint from boats - hence the many different colours that can be seen. Where first a small river flowed, the area that now is Caminito had tracks installed, and when those were not used anymore, this developed into an ugly, abandoned part of La Boca.
Local artist Quinquela Martín painted the walls of the street we now know as Caminito (which means little path in Spanish) in the end of the 1950s. By now, the area has become one of the prime tourist destinations in the city of Buenos Aires, and as such feels less authentic than it once must have been. Souvenir shops and restaurants strive for customer's attention and tourist dollars. Nevertheless, it does deserve a visit because of the optimism that the colours provoke - contrasting to the difficult conditions in which the area has developed.
After my previous visits during the day, in which the street was full of artists entertaining the many visitors, I decided to take an early bus out to La Boca on a sunny day. A short walk along the waterfront separated me from the end of Caminito, which I found completely empty. Moreover, the early sun created beautiful slanted shadows on the pastel coloured walls, and I walked Caminito up and down several times to see the sun make its way through the curved street. Yellow, red, blue, pink, and green are the dominant colours in the houses; besides, I found several statues and works of art on the walls adorning this colourful street, mostly depicting either the women and children waiting for their sailormen to return, or displays of tango for which the neighbourhood is also famous. When the sun was higher in the sky, artists and street vendors started to set up shop, and the first visitors started arriving - I knew it was time to go.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Caminito (Argentina). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Caminito. Read more about this site.