Steamy armpits

It´s dirty, grey, rowdy, rough and loud; there´s a million and one reasons to hate this city but it wont listen to reason. Everyone from the waiter at the patio-restaurant at our little beachresort, to the snorkling guide with slightly fascist tendencies, questioned the logic behind ending our trip in the countrys capital since all it´s known for is grime and murder.

And I´ve got to admit, one of the allures is the bad reputation, related to that not so flattering Vulture-esque human notion of a crowd gathering on the outskirts of a crimescene, hoping to catch a glimpse of guts and gore, so close and yet so far away, It could have been me, just basking in the aftermath of danger.

But it´s more than that, this city of officially four million but unofficially who knows, possesses its very own brand of a twisted charm; it´s like tap-wiring someones wedding-woes, beauty and paranoia goes hand in hand.

We start off every morning at the breakfast/bakery up the street from our hotel. It´s got an overview over an intersection; you got every vehicle with a combustion engine roaming the streets and I sincerely doubt the Celac-summits held here just prior to our arrival had any enviromental issues high up on the agenda; here you´ll swallow an oil-barrel of carbon dioxide just by a quick walk around the block, and although the streets are constantly flooded with a mass of thickskinned bodies there´s still plenty poison left to add to the already dense layer of smog.

 The marketplace sprawling out just beside the metro-entrance of Bellas Artes shows off pirated merchandise from all over, displayed in tiny container-booths, caps, t-shirts, underwear, jewelry, movies; it´s all packed together tightly, the paths between the booths are at most two persons wide, it´s a labyrinth, everything starts to close in on me, it´s as humid as in the rainforest, all that bodyheat and the vendors going ala´orde, ala´orde, which means something like “at your service”, but the way it´s used its just a repetatory phrase, a loop that goes round and round, etching itself into your spinalchord, there´s a roof of corrugated tin covering this whole homage to the free market and I can hear the rain start to pound on it, each heavy drop a bathtub, I´m looking for a way out and I´m gasping for air as I find it.

We walk around. We take the subway. It seems to have a train coming and going every two minutes, but nevertheless every chart is jam-packed, you have to muscle your way in and ride armpit to armpit until it´s time to muscle your way out again.

There´s no tourists here. We get a lot of looks. This is a place where you get to your connecting flight and be on your way. I love it. I walk around with my tongue hanging out.

Beauty and the beast again: seeing the barrios creeping in between the Chrysler-building and the bank; a brickhouse on its knees, pieces of clothing hanged to dry in the wind, tied in knots around the protective-bars shielding the windows. And then the glass facade of the skyscraper, reflecting everything and revealing nothing.

The barrios are far from being just crackpots and criminals, it´s where the working stiff resides, the schoolteachers, the waiters at our hotel, the busdriver. And just as its inhabitants, the architecture isn´t just that of a slumdwelling; it´s a place of ingenuity and beauty, well-crafted, miniature mansions with a ramshackle bunking on top.

That´s all for now.


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