Finding and restoring long-forgotten history, betting on horses, and buying prized livestock. Old pastimes in another world – you read about other people doing them, but seldom, if ever, do it yourself. We met a Wisconsin couple at a bar one Saturday night, who told us these three things were their favorite things in Buenos Aires. So we decided to see for ourselves.
First up was the annual livestock show, La Rural, which coincidentally was close to our apartment. On the way in, Rachel got cotton candy. I love how her face always lights up every time she sees cotton candy. We’ve gotten it in nearly every country we’ve been in this year.
Insert by Rachel:
There was also three tracks with obstacle courses for SUVs and pick-up trucks to show off their skills. We watched as the trucks and SUVs from Ford, Toyota and VW pulled farm equipment, went over rugged terrain… I was really impressed by the trucks going over a steep track shaped like a hill and then reversing back over it!
Back to Samir:
Second, we went to a mansion that had been restored. A wealthy owner had purchased a run-down row-house in the 1980’s to build a restaurant. But, during excavation, an underground tunnel was discovered, which led to an archaeological investigation. Artifacts surfaced, the plans for the restaurant were nixed, and instead a historical museum was created. Millions of dollars in restoration spanning multiple decades led to the beautiful Zanjon Mansion on Defensa Street, near the port. The tunnel underground? There were two tributaries that joined near the mansion, which created a place for standing water. There was a problem with mosquitoes and a plague, so they covered the tributaries inside tunnels. During excavation, they found arches of hallways indicating a level of the city under the current street level. And guess what? They found two more sets of arches beneath those, showing that the current “ground” level of the city is 30+ feet above where it once was. What an interesting bit of history.
And finally, on one of our last days in town, I headed to the horse track. They had a casino underground, under the tracks with probably 10,000 slot machines. I walked and walked, but couldn’t find the end of the slot machines. I asked for tables – I was referred to one small private room (which was also the only smoking lounge in the entire casino) with computerized tables for roulette and black-jack (no dealer). I was particularly interested in the fact that I could get pretty close to the track, only separated by a fence and a row of bushes. And bets could be made for as little as 1 Argentine peso (about $0.20 US). Races were every 30 minutes, but since I went alone on a windy Friday afternoon, there were few other people, and I headed back home after a few races (I lost all my bets).