Caminito walkway in the La Boca neighbourhood is a MUST see but NOT safe. I find it very interesting that guide books highly recommend tourists to go there but fail to inform them of the safety concerns. This colorful walkway is dominated by tango dancers, artists and restaurants. Typical houses from La Boca are beautifully painted in bright and vivid colours.
With safety at the back of my mind, I had mixed emotions visiting Caminito. But my parents were visiting and we decided to go there on the Saturday morning. We hopped into a taxi and I asked the driver if it was safe to go there. He told us to stay inside the “Caminito area” and not to go wandering beyond the barriers.
The steel barriers are clearly visible when you arrive. Craftworks are on sale at the entrance. The houses are really painted beautifully. When you follow the walkway you enter the restaurant and tango area. Tango dancers invite you to take pictures with them. Brilliant photo opportunities but you need to give them a tip.
There are many restaurants who offer free tango shows but you have to eat or drink something. Even restaurant owners ask you to please keep your bags and belongings close to you at all times. The tango dancers will come around and ask for a donation. If you are cash strapped then this will hit your pocket. Food and drinks are not cheap.
There is a lot of activity in Caminito. People dance, make music and restaurants offer you flyers. With all this distraction around you crime happens. While we were eating at one of the restaurants a young Italian couple got robbed. With all the activity around you, you stop to take notice of your surroundings. The man posed for photo’s with the tango dancer and the wife got up to take pictures. When she returned to the table her bag was stolen. In the excitement of taking the pictures she forgot her bag underneath the chair. She told us their money and passports were inside the bag. Police were there immediately but the culprits were already gone. I felt so sorry for them.
I had some wonderful photo opportunities but the safety concerns made me nervous and I felt that I did not enjoy it that much.
In my opinion you have to see Caminito but always be alert. Don’t go there at night and don’t flash money or accept help from people to go to the bank. Make sure that you don’t carry a lot of valuebles with you. Then you will be fine. Buenos Aires is currently trying to clean up the La Boca neighbourhood and police are on patrol. However at night there are no police on patrol. In my opinion they can deploy more police to ensure the safety of tourists.
A little history about Caminito:
In the 50’s, a neighbour decided to clean and recover the land. He called the help from a painter from La Boca. His name was Benito Quinquela Martín, who named the 100 meters street as “Caminito”, due to the famous tango from 1926 by Gabino Coria Peñalosa and Juan de Dios Filiberto (the tango lyrics refer to a road in La Rioja’s province.)
Other works by artists such as Luis Perlotti, Roberto Capurro, Juan Leone, Ricardo Sánchez, and Julio Vergottini were added to the walk, until 1959, when Caminito was officially inaugurated as an opened sky museum.