Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Abasto: the Jewish barrio

[Photo from this website.]

After a couple of days of feeling under the weather, the comrades decided to take me to the Jewish barrio in Buenos Aires. It's called Abasto and it's massive.

Argentina holds the highest Jewish population in all of Latin America and fourth in the world. Initially, when coming to the city I would have been surprised. But, as I learned, this city is a hub for immigrants. Immigration is what gives this city it's diverse range of accents and architecture.

Nonetheless, back to Abasto. The comrades and I thought it was going to be a massive flea market indoors: Vendors, traders, buyers, outlets... My dear comrades, very far from.

Upon approaching the Abasto, ominous arches rose towards the sky. It was intimidating. The steel, the concrete, the sheer presence and power of this mountanous skulpture. Did I mention it was intimidating? I didn't want to go shopping anymore. I persevered.

Nonetheless, inside it was sparkling. The marble floors combined with the twinkling, ambient lights gave this 5-storey decadence a cozier feel. Store up on store up on store. It was exhausting just looking at it.

At the top is where we found a haven. The food court. However, right beside it was a children's interactive-park-mueseum. I daren't enter. The clowns, let alone the snot and drool, were terrifying.

Within the foodcourt, the options are endless. Everything kosher of course. Even the MacDonald's. Absolutely the MacD's. It said so right on the sign. Well, my darling comrade Maggy needed to take a picture of that. Oh, and the ebony-steel arches that spidered above us. That's when we were stopped. A security guard approached.

No, ma'am, you can't do that (en castellano).

Por que?

Because we have to limit our potential terrorist threats. (Essentially).

Shocked and dismayed, we obviously obeyed. A shopping centre? A Jewish shopping centre. Once aware of our potential threat, we walked around and observed. There were security guards everywhere. I thought this was just a bit too much. But, never judge a situation by it's sparkling marble.

Apparently, the upped security is not for no reason. (Did that make sense?) In 1992 the Israeli embassy was bombed killing 32 people. In '94 the Jewish community centre, AMIA, was bombed as well, killing 85 and wounding over 200. Whoa. Even though it was 15+ years ago, I can understand the jumpiness.

This city has so much interesting history to offer. Some of the events, albeit, quite unsettling. Nonetheless, a trip worth taking to see. Easy shopping. Kosher meals. Polished eggshells.

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