I love riding the Buenos Aire Subte.
In general I really like riding public transit, no matter where I am in the world. I find the world of public transit to be a microcosm of a given city.
Sure it’s dirty, there’s no air conditioning, it’s unreliable, and there’s a chance you’ll be robbed (very low in my estimation.)
However, by braving the most widely chosen form of transportation in the city you are getting to see the city’s real pulse. Buenos Aires lives, breaths, sings, and dances on these underground tracks.
Where else in the world are you going to get a random accordion show, witness some of the world’s most beautiful women, have a hawker try to sell you coloured pencils, and see a poor overweight mother feeding her baby while begging all within a few minutes?
The randomness of it all is part of what I love. Every time I enter the subte I don’t know of what I will bear witness.
There’s the regulars.
The book vendors who are trying to have a part time job while attending University of Buenos Aires.
The accordion player with a really bad comb-over.
The malnourished little girls high-fiving each passenger before passing them a note telling about their hardships.
Then there are the entertainers. Each providing us with a few minutes of music, b-boy beats, or juggling. I enjoy these shows, and show my gratitude with a few coins at every opportunity.
The music is one of my favourite parts of the Buenos Aires subte. I can sit down and be taken to my destination, while listening to some live music.
The music on the subte can be anything from folkloric flute, to tango-styled accordion, to electric guitar driven rock. The music, just like the passengers, are a diverse crowd.
Another one of my favourite things is the roulette wheel of excitement for me just as every train arrives. You see, it’s estimated that ~80% of trains have graffiti on them in the city. I’d imagine the number’s higher.
‘Train bombing,’ which is the name for graffiti that is illegally put on trains, is very common in Buenos Aires. It’s an illegal and dangerous side of the art form. The passengers will most likely never see these participants in there journey, but they are participants nonetheless.
So with the beautiful women, vendors, beggers, musicians and graffiti it makes for an interesting ride every time. The city shows its colours on these underground tracks. These colours, for good and bad, are part of why I love Buenos Aires.