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February 2, 2012

The Colors of La Boca, Argentina

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Colorful La Boca grew to become an Italian (mostly from Genoa) district of Buenos Aires, Argentina in a very short time in mid-19th-century. It used to be the area where Italian immigrants arrived, and settled in the poorest of conditions. Their houses were built by the leftover corrugated iron and other waste found in the nearby harbour and industry on the Riachuelo river. In order to make the neighbourhood more interesting, they decided to paint their houses in bright colors by using the leftover paint from boats - hence the many different colours that can be seen. Where first a small river flowed, the area that now is Caminito had tracks installed, and when those were not used anymore, this developed into an ugly, abandoned part of La Boca. There were several museums with paintings portraying its hard-working inhabitants in the shipyards and on the docks.

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Local artist Quinquela Martín painted the walls of the street, which now we know as Caminito (which means little path in Spanish) at the end of the 1950s. This area has become one of the prime tourist destinations in the city of Buenos Aires, with souvenir shops, restaurants and a thriving artist community.

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The bright yellow, red, blue, pink, and green are the dominant colours in the houses. Several statues and works of art adorning the walls and sidewalks of this colorful street, mostly depicting either the women and children waiting for their sailormen to return. The street and restaurants were full of artists entertaining the many visitors, tango music attracts crowds to enjoy wine, delicious beef and watch such passionate dancers. How could it not become a most famous attraction in Argentina?

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