Las Veredas (Ínfimas) de Buenos AiresFriday, March 24, 2017
|Lauren on Calle Corrientes on an uncharacteristicaly pristine vereda. Buenos Aire March 2017
In English you have a sidewalk. In Spanish Castilian you have the cold acera and in Mexican Spanish the unwieldy banqueta. In Argentina we have the far sweeter vereda. Strangely a Mexican composer wrote Vereda Tropical, lyrics and link below
Voy por la vereda tropical
La noche plena de quietud
Con su perfume de humedad
En la brisa que viene del mar
Se oye el rumor de una canción
Canción de amor y de piedad
Con ella fui
Noche tras noche, hasta el mar
Para besar su boca fresca de amor
Y me juró quererme más y más
Y no olvidar jamás
Aquella noche junto al mar
Hoy solo me queda recordar
¿Por qué se fue?
Tú la dejaste ir, vereda tropical
Hazla volver a mí
Quiero besar su boca
Otra vez junto al mar
Songwriters: Gonzalo Curiel
A sidewalk by the sea shore (in a city) has the nice sounding word malecón. Havana has its malecon as does Veracruz, but Barcelona, to be different has Las Ramblas.
Back to veredas. Since I can remember my Buenos Aires has always had sidewalks that are tiled. These tiles are called baldosas in Argentina even though we all know that the beautiful tiles from Spain or Talavera in Guadalajara, Mexico are called azulejos.
From the moment I notice women in Buenos Aires I had a fantasy that I shared with many boys my age. This was to wait outside our homes on a rainy day and watch for a young woman in heels walk by and step on the many loose baldosas (then and now in 2017). She would step on that lucky (for us) baldosa and water would skirt up her skirt! I have no need to go any further as to mention what the young woman would do next.
If I can be frank about the state of affairs with my hometown is that something has not changed. If anything the situation is worse. The lovely and romantic veredas of Buenos Aires are a mess. It was particularly difficult for my wife Rosemary who now walks with a cane to navigate these veredas.
It seems that as soon as a vereda is repaired, within days a pipe bursts and…
The freeways (there are many and all are tolled) of Buenos Aires are in excellent shape as well as most streets. Sidewalks are not. It immediately came to mind that Vancouver is the opposite. Are sidewalks are nice while our streets are in terrible shape.
|Tucumán corner with San Martin
The folks who lived (are they still there?) on Burrard from Drake, south all the way to about 16th have suffered for more than a year with a closed road. Even side streets are blocked. There is that stretch from Drake to Pacific that has been two narrow lanes now for over a year. The city does not tell us why or for how long this will last. My suggestion is to import ancient Egyptians (if any un-mummified ones can be found) and if they could build the pyramids in under a century perhaps they could do better at Burrard and Pacific.
|Tucumán and San Martin, our hotel, the Claridge on the left right after the tall building
As terrible as Buenos Aires veredas are and can be it had to be Julio Cortázar who would write a delightful poem about them.
Veredas de Buenos Aires – Julio Cortázar
De este texto nació un tango,
Con música de Edgardo Cantón
De pibes la llamamos la vedera
y a ella le gustó que las quisiéramos.
En su lomo sufrido dibujamos
Después, ya más compadres, taconeando.
dimos vueltas manzana con la barra,
silbando fuerte para que la rubia
del almacén saliera a la ventana.
A mí me tocó un día irme muy lejos
pero no me olvidé de las vederas.
Aquí o allà las siento en los tamangos
como la fiel caricia de mi tierra.
Sidewalks of Buenos Aires
When we were little we called it the walkside
and it liked the way we loved it.
On its suffering back we drew
so many hopscotch squares.
Later, full of ourselves, boot heels rapping,
the gang of us would strut around the block
whistling as loud as we could so the blonde
at work would come to the window of her shop.
One day my turn came to go far away
but I never forgot the walksides.
Here or there I feel them in my boots
like the faithful touch of my land.
Impossible to translate is the modified use of vereda by Cortázar as vedera. Argentines like to do this so a café con leche becomes a feca con chele. The almacén of the poem is translated to shop. Not correct. An almacén was usually a corner grocery store run by a crusty Galician from Spain. It was in the almacén on the corner near my house that in 1949 and 1950, Julio Cortázar, a friend of my father's would send me for his brand of cigarettes, Arizonas. The crusty man was called Don Pascual.