San Telmo: Paris on Steroids

We arrive to San Telmo on a Sunday morning, just to find that the blocks surrounding our hotel are host to the bustling weekly craft/antiques fair. Aristo has to yank me through the crowds to our hotel, since I keep getting distracted by beautiful hats and assorted shiny objects.

Once we re-emerge to enjoy the market, it’s in proper full-swing. The street is alive with tango dancers, dressed to the nines and prancing around to live music being played by long-haired, sensitive-looking Argentinian men. More stalls have set up with paintings and photographs, jewellery, clothing, shoes, and trinkets from decades past. Plus, the streets are cobble-stoned, so the charm is undeniable.

I remark that we could be in France right now, for all the terraces and glamorous people; we later read somewhere that San Telmo is “Paris on steroids”, so apparently my comparison was not so unique, but nonetheless accurate.

From the end of the market, we see smoke rising. I would know that smoke anywhere: it’s a BBQ. We are feeling as if the day simply cannot improve, until we bite into the chimmichurri-drenched, pork loin sandwiches and realise that our lives have just been changed.

Patio Provincia, the location of this miracle barbeque, is a free, outdoor music venue featuring live folk bands (and the occasional father-son-daughter trio, which is pretty cute). In true Argentine style, everyone is up dancing the tradition chucharon and spinning about in delight. I’m tempted to join in, since the dance itself is pretty basic, but I’m not so keen on recreating the salsa-lesson incident from Peru, especially considering that there are no other clumsy white people here to draw attention away from me. I settle for watching energetically from the sidelines and drinking lots of blended drinks.