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  • Writer's pictureMatteo

Puerto Madero

Updated: May 19

Buenos Aires, Argentina - January 2023

My trip to Argentina began, of course, in Buenos Aires, a metropolis that at the end of the trip I will call "the Berlin of Latin America." 

We decide to reach the city center by public transportation, in this case a regular bus. The trip turns into a real Odyssey. 

Right from the start, the gigantic trees that dominate the streets of the Argentine capital appear, and at the same time neighborhoods of all kinds flow across the warm glass of the window: dilapidated shacks surrounded by red dust, agglomerations of concrete and sheet metal seemingly without logic, very well-kept cottages with manicured courtyards and parked cars, apartment buildings, kiosks, supermarkets, police stations, various stores, banks, mechanics, tire short, the further we advance the deeper we get into the city. After at least twenty or so stops we arrived at Plaza de Mayo from where, exhausted, we headed home by taking a cab. In Argentina, public transportation is almost free while cabs cost more or less normal. It is really hard to put a value on the Argentine currency, which has literally gone crazy in the last 20 years (at least) causing several crises and the inevitable impoverishment of the whole country (privileged aside). 

The taxi driver is really a nice guy and the natural interjections of my friend Carlos fuel the discussion with always apt topics including the World Cup just won by the Selecion of course.

After a brief excursus on Argentina's "locura" (links between celebrations, monetary crisis, politics and the countless difficulties of daily life in the country), the history of the obelisk and the Portenos' connection to it, we finally arrive at our destination. Our apartment is located in the heart of Belgrano, a residential neighborhood in Buenos Aires and, from what I understand, also one of the best to live in. I for one can at least say that I had a very very good time there! 

Time to set our bags down and we dive into the metropolis, tired but very curious to explore a Capital that offers a very unique mix of cultures. In addition to the people, this mix is evident by admiring the city's architecture, which shows how much the influences of immigrant peoples have shaped virtually everything. 

We take the Subte, which in a half-hour brings us back to the center of town, and upon exiting the stop it is the obelisk that dominates the scene. No doubt I still have in mind the incredible images of the World Cup celebrations and, with these scenes in mind, I immediately spot a mega billboard of Maradona associated with an Arabic-type advertisement whose meaning I do not fully understand.

After the usual photos we walk to the Teatro Colon, which we will later visit on our return from the South and continue our walk curiously until we decide it is time for dinner and head to Puerto Madero.

Puerto Madero is a barrio in Buenos Aires. It is named after the merchant who developed its design, Eduardo Madero. The neighborhood is bordered to the northwest by Retiro, to the east by the Rio de la Plata and the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve, to the south by La Boca, and to the west by San Telmo, Monserrat, and San Nicolas. 

Eduardo presented as many as three projects, the last of which was approved in 1881. At the time, the city practically lacked a port infrastructure capable of allowing large vessels to dock, and the movement of goods and people was carried out by steamboats or, at best, by making use of large wooden piers that could not always be reached because of the tides. 

The realization of this immense project caused a radical change in the geography of the area with the placement of a giant artificial island composed of stone and sand that then allowed the placement of docks, piers and large warehouses in the harbor area.

History tells us that Eduardo Madero's third project was not exactly visionary either. The port became obsolete within ten years because of its size; too small to accommodate an ever-increasing movement of goods. 

It was not until late 1989 that the government decided to redevelop the area, giving way over the past 30 years to the construction of infrastructure, skyscrapers and parks that transformed the port, amid endless waste of resources, into the city's most exclusive neighborhood.


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