Tag Archive | "buenos aires"

The Indy Eye: This Month In Photos, January


Normally a sleepy time of the year, when hordes of people change the blistering asphalt of the city for some R&R at the beach or the mountains, this January was quite exceptional.

With the new government taking office on 10th December, this past month has seen a flurry of political activity that is unusual for this time of year. The new year began with a desperate, country-wide search for three runaway convicts that could have been part of a film —a comedy, mostly.

In Jujuy, social leader Milagro Sala from the Tupac Amaru organisation was arrested for leading a protest before the provincial government building, prompting concerns regarding the new government’s stance on the criminalisation of public protest. This concerns only deepened as new cases of police brutality and repression surfaced and a ‘public security emergency‘ —the full scope of which is yet to be determined— was announced.

Around the country, thousands of State workers have been turning up to work only to find out they are unemployed and accused of being “ñoquis” (those who collect a paycheque without doing any work). Several protests were organised against the dismissals, including a festival at the Kirchner Cultural Centre (CCK) and “ñoqueadas” in different parts of the city.

Nature has also been at the centre of the agenda —first were the water hyacinths (camalotes) washing up at the Costanera with all sorts of animals from upstream, and then the mosquitos made their yearly comeback, this time bringing with them a dengue epidemic and the thus far little-known zika disease.

The Chinese community celebrated their new year on 30th January (photo: Camille Ayral)

The Chinese community celebrated their new year on 30th January (photo: Camille Ayral)

Palermo (photo: Camille Ayral)

Palermo (photo: Camille Ayral)

Café Cortázar

This month, we visited the cosy Café Cortázar (Photo: Rosie Thomas)

Police keep a watchful eye on a protest (photo: Camille Ayral)

Police keep a watchful eye on a protest (photo: Camille Ayral)

Workers march against State layoffs (photo: Camille Ayral)

Workers march against State layoffs (photo: Camille Ayral)

Argentine-Brazilian group Candomblé performing in San Telmo (photo: Camille Ayral)

Argentine-Brazilian group Candomblé performing in San Telmo (photo: Camille Ayral)

President Mauricio Macri met with businessmen in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (photo: Casa Rosada Press)

President Mauricio Macri met with businessmen in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (photo: Casa Rosada Press)

The water hyacinths gave Puerto Madero a distinct look this month (photo: Patricio Murphy)

The water hyacinths gave Puerto Madero a distinct look this month (photo: Patricio Murphy)

The Tupac Amaru organisation set up a camp at Plaza de Mayo to demand the release of Milagro Sala (photo: Patricio Murphy)

The Tupac Amaru organisation set up a camp at Plaza de Mayo to demand the release of Milagro Sala (photo: Patricio Murphy)

Posted in Multimedia, Photoessay, TOP STORYComments (0)

Police Launch Renewed Crackdown on Illegal Street Vendors


The city government has renewed efforts to clamp down on illegal street vendors, more commonly known as manteros, throughout Buenos Aires.

In a operation between Federal and Metropolitan Police forces, at least 500 officers were deployed early this morning in Caballito to prevent vendors from laying out their goods. In addition, 100 bags of illegal goods, which are said to be mainly clothing and counterfeit sunglasses, were reportedly seized by police.

Manteros accuse Macri's government of victimising the poor (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Manteros accuse Macri’s government of victimising the poor (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Yesterday in Retiro several manteros were evicted admist a scuffle with Metropolitan police in which one local was arrested for refusing to close down his stand. The incident left two officers injured.

On the 22nd January 2015 a similar case took place in Flores, Caballito and Once, again with confrontations, and leading to the seizure of goods. Thirty illegal stalls were moved on Av. Pueyrredón, and one of the five people who refused to move was arrested.

This morning’s operation is part of a new crackdown on the manteros, who get their nickname from the Spanish word manta, meaning blanket.

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, mayor of the City of Buenos Aires told La Nación newspaper: “We are looking to improve the situation, but we must also give an alternative to people who work on the street. The option is to relocate them to pieces of land that are nearer to the places where they now sell goods, so they can continue with their labour.”

There have also been discussions regarding from the government regarding moving the manteros into warehouses, a move resisted by most of the sellers. Daniel, a mantero who works at Once, told La Nación: “If they send us to the warehouses, were going to vegetate. Trade takes place on the street.”

Clara Muzzio, the deputy secretary for the use of public space (UEP) urged caution, saying that: “Not every mantero can be moved. We’re first going to do a survey to detect the problem in particular before initiating any action or operation.”

Long-Running Dispute

The latest incidents resurrect an ongoing debate about finding a compromise between the street sellers who demand a right to earn a living and shop owners who claim they are put at a disadvantage by operating as an official entity.

A law sanctioned by the city government in December 2011 prohibited street vendors from operating outside of designated areas away from the city centre. But efforts to evict manteros faced major protests and were unsuccessful.

According to the Argentine Confederation of Medium-Size Enterprises (CAME), in December 2015 there was a daily average of around 6,600 illegal vendors on the streets of Buenos Aires, more than double the figure from two years earlier.

CAME and the Federation of Commerce and Industry in the City of Buenos Aires (FECOBA) called the recent evictions a positive step towards eradicating what it has called a “scourge” on legal business operating legitimately in the city.

FECOBA states that it is in “favour of the actions that the city government, alongside the Metropolitan and Federal Police carrying out operations to evict the manteros from Av. Avellaneda within the neighbourhoods of Flores and Floresta”.

FECOBA adds that the manteros are the public face of “a millionaire business designed by organised mafias who develop a system of slave labour, trafficking in clandestine workshops, smuggling, theft and piracy of goods, unfair competition, and corruption.”

However, speaking to A24 News, street seller Jaira said that her sole interest is to work. She explained that where she operates in Flores is a prime location as many people pass by, and claimed that moving her elsewhere would affect her livelihood. “The only thing we asked is to be allowed to work peacefully,” she said, adding that in terms of finding a solution, “nobody has told us anything on the matter.”

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Government Declares ‘Water Emergency’ in Northeast Region


The national government has declared a “State of Water Emergency” in seven provinces due to the consequences of the El Niño phenomenon on Argetina’s northeastern region.

Flooding in Misiones (photo: Alba Posse/Télam/cf)

Flooding in Misiones (photo: Alba Posse/Télam/cf)

The provinces covered by the decree are Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Chaco, Entre Rios, Formosa, Misiones, and Corrientes.

The decree number 266, published in the government’s Official Gazette, cites heavy rainfall in the water basin in which these provinces are located as a cause for “shortcomings in the functioning of existing storm drains, flooding nearby neighbourhoods, affecting the network of roads, and involving loss to the inhabitants of the region.”

As a provincial state of emergency is already in place in each of the seven affected provinces in order to implement action to repair damage and prevent future destruction, the presidential decree enlists national aid in carrying out “all negotiations to obtain external funding to immediately take the necessary measures to address the critical situation at hand.”

While the provincial decrees varied in length – some lasting 150 days, others six months – the national decree will be in effect until 31st December 2016.

The decree was signed by President Macri, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, and Minister of the Interior, Public Works, and Housing Rogelio Frigerio.

The National Weather Service has called this phenomenon “the strongest event of its kind in 50 years,” and predicts that the effects of the El Niño – which has already displaced more than 20,000 people due to floods in Argentina – will worsen over the coming months.

In Paraguay, the worst hit, a state of emergency was declared in December 2015 and more than 100,000 people have been forced from their homes.

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Health Ministry on Alert as Dengue ‘Epidemic’ Reaches Buenos Aires


MosquitoThe first cases of dengue fever in 2016 have been reported in the City of Buenos Aires as the virus continues to spread around Argentina.

Over 1,100 cases have been reported around the country, with the northeastern provinces of Misiones and Formosa most affected.

While the Buenos Aires Health Ministry originally reported four cases within the city – all of which were infected outside of the city, with the patients now discharged – the total was raised to seven yesterday afternoon with three new cases confirmed by Buenos Aires Health Minister Ana Maria Perez Bou.

“The entire city is at risk. The contagion can occur anywhere,” said Perez Bou, announcing a city-wide plan targeting standing freshwater and highly-vegetated zones to prevent the spread of the virus.

While National Health Minister Jorge Lemus has referred to the situation in the provinces of Formosa and Misiones as an ‘epidemic’, no national emergency has been issued so far.

Alternately, National Director of Epidemiology Jorge San Juan insists that the situation be treated as an outbreak rather than an epidemic.

The reason, San Juan explained in an interview with Radio 10, is that the virus maintains the same serotype as that of previous years. As there are no new forms of the virus, for now, he says there is “no gravity” to the situation.

The surge in reported cases is the most serious outbreak of the dengue virus in Argentina since 2009 in which nearly 8,000 people were reportedly infected with the virus, including 150 cases in the City of Buenos Aires itself.

Concern in neighbouring countries has reached significantly higher levels. The Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) estimate places Brazil at 1.6 million cases of the mosquito-borne virus in 2015, and in Paraguay, five of the country’s 17 departments, including the capital, have reported infections. Experts believe recent El Niño flooding resulting in greater quantities of standing freshwater to be the main cause of the problem.

A dengue vaccine, already adopted by Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines, is currently under review by the National Administration of Drugs, Food, and Medical Technology (ANMAT). Despite delays, health officials estimate that the vaccine will be approved this year.

The World Health Organisation considers the dengue vaccine a major factor in the control and prevention of the virus.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Your Guide to New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires


“You know what they say, the way you spend New Year’s Eve is the same way you’ll spend the rest of the year.” – Hailey Nichol, The OC

In the spirit of this popular (and probably misguided) adage, we’ve come up with a list of ways you can enjoy New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires and ensure a great 2016.

Fireworks shoot over the Buenos Aires night sky (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Fireworks shoot over the Buenos Aires night sky (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

In a city known for its crazy nightlife and parties that last until the sun rises, New Year’s Eve tends to be a surprisingly quiet, family affair in Buenos Aires. For travel junkies, the hot weather is a reason to pack up and head to a beach on the Atlantic Coast, Uruguay, or Southern Brazil, depending on your budget. But if you’re stuck here, there are more than enough things to keep you occupied beyond killing cockroaches and wishing your neighbours would turn the music down.

As a heads up, if your plan is to splurge and dine out on the 31st, be sure to make reservations as soon as possible because space fills up quickly. Also, try and avoid getting around close to midnight because getting public transportation or a taxi will be harder than sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.

Spend it With a Family

New Years is a time usually spent with family and friends in Argentina. If you don’t have family here, see if you can get in with someone else’s. Or spend it with friends. Hopefully you have some of those.

Leave the Cooking to the Pros

Before you start making drunken resolutions that won’t last longer than your New Year’s Day hangover (this includes slurred promises of “New Year, new me!”), you can at least end this year with a stress free meal.

Though not all restaurants are open on New Year’s Eve, some do offer special holiday menus. Try to plan ahead and eat somewhere close to your next destination, otherwise you might be stranded as the clock turns 12.

If you plan to watch fireworks in Puerto Madero, then La Cabaña is one option. The swanky joint will set you back $1,700 per person and $850 if you are between the ages of five to 12 (which I imagine you’re not if you’re reading this) and includes a glass of bubbly, wine, starters, dessert and a traditional meat fest.

La Parolaccia is also in Puerto Madero. This popular Italian restaurant is serving up a special menu for New Years that will include a live DJ and party favours.

Other promising options outside of Puerto Madero are Garbis, a Middle Eastern restaurant that has food like hummus, tabuli, mousakka if you’re tired of asados after Christmas. For a far more reasonable $690 per person ($345 for kids under ten), the meal includes wine, Middle Eastern desserts, fruits, and ice cream.

Almacen Secreto Club, a closed door restaurant in Colegiales is hosting a special feast for the New Year for $800 per person ($450 for under tens). The meal will include a meat and vegetarian option and will be in a cozy courtyard.

The view from the top of Palacio Barolo will give a spectacular vista on New Year's Eve. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

The view from the top of Palacio Barolo will give a spectacular vista on New Year’s Eve. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Al Fresco

Unlike those miserable people freezing in their dresses and heels in the Northern Hemisphere, Buenos Aires will probably be balmy – read oppressively hot – on New Years Eve. Take advantage of it and head out to the streets where parties are sure to erupt, with fireworks.

More in the mood for something romantic? A stroll along Puerto Madero to watch the fireworks could be the ticket. You could also have a dinner at one of the many restaurants along the river and then later head out for a special tour of Palacio Barolo. The two hour tour will include champagne to celebrate the New Year at midnight and a prime view of the fireworks.

Party Party Party

If your idea of ringing in the New Year is in a club, surrounded by friends and sharing a kiss with the hottie you locked eyes with from across the bar…think again. Many clubs won’t open till after midnight so you’ll have to make some other plans beforehand. But if you haven’t gone too hard at your previa and are still up for a night out, these are a few clubs that know how to let the good times roll.

The annual Fiesta de Piso Compartido‘s special New Year’s edition at Club Araoz is a solid option. The big party brings together hostels in the city, Spanish institutes, travellers and Argentines to celebrate. Doors open at 1am, tickets $150 in advance or $200 at the door.

Magdalena’s Party, an expat-friendly bar, will be throwing a big party with a special menu that includes wine, brisket empanadas, turkey, sides and dessert for $350. After midnight there will be live music and an extended happy hour with two drinks for $95.

Other popular clubs like Asia de Cuba, Unicorn Husset, Club 69, and Crobar will also be hosting special New Year’s Eve parties that take you well into 2016.

*Lead image by Nicolás Lope de Barrios (via Flickr)

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Where to get Brunch in Buenos Aires


[Editor’s note: If you have other recommend places for brunch in Buenos Aires, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section!]

Brunch, a tasty combination of breakfast and lunch, is still catching on in Buenos Aires, but there are more and more places offering the late-morning feast. To help you find what you’re looking for when you roll out of bed on the weekend, we’ve tried and tested brunch spots around the city (and even survived a spot of food poisoning).

Here are the five kinds of brunch for every need and the places where you can get them!

The Classic: Malvón

For a classic brunch experience look no further than Malvón, a café with all the fixings for a boozy brunch with friends.

Brunch at Malvón (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

Brunch at Malvón (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

The Villa Crespo location is in an open, airy building with high ceilings, but it has a cute, eclectic feel to it. There is a hotchpotch of antiques and vintage items from different eras, including old telephones, newspaper clippings, a vinyl record player, and paintings of plants. There’s also a beautiful plant-filled patio in the back if you want to soak up some sun. The interior has lots of windows with yellow stained glass and a stained glass skylight to let in as much light as possible.

All the brunch meals come with a cornbread muffin, a fresh bread basket, a fruit bowl with strawberries, kiwi, sunflower seeds, grapefruit, pear and cornflakes. They also include a café con leche or a glass of lemonade or flavoured water. You can even upgrade your drink to a beer or glass of wine for as little as $15 extra.

The lemonade is delicious – not too sweet, cold and refreshing with a hint of mint. Their eggs benedict is smooth and creamy with crispy sweet potato chips and salty bacon. They also have a vegetable frittata, barbeque ribs, mac and cheese, to name a few.

There’s also a kids menu for $90 that offers macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets.

The service is quick, so the turnaround is relatively fast, but since they don’t take reservations on weekends try to get there before you’re absolutely starving in case you have to wait.

Locations: Serrano 789, Villa Crespo and Lafinur 3275, Palermo
When: 10am to 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. No reservations on weekends.
Cost: $130+

The Hangover Cure: Sugar Bar

For those on the hunt for the perfect brunch to ease the pain of a brutal hangover after a night of boozing and schmoozing, the cure may be Sugar.

Soak up last night's booze with a brunch at Sugar (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

Soak up last night’s booze with a brunch at Sugar (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

Not the sweet stuff, but a sports bar in the heart of trendy Palermo Soho. The bar is a nightlife hotspot for expats and tourists eager to party till the sun rises, meet other English speakers, and enjoy a few comforts from home like NFL and rugby games on television. But it also re-opens relatively early for those needing nourishment the day after.

“It’s a mix between a sports bar and club so people can see the game and stay longer,” says Matias Kritz, a part-time manager. “It’s a place you can find a lot of people to make friends.”

The well-established Sugar Bar has been ahead of the pack when it comes to brunch. This year, they’ve revamped their brunch menu to feature three classics: a healthy yogurt parfait ($65), a breakfast burrito with ham, cheese and tomatoes ($80), and a smoked salmon with thick fries and scrambled eggs feast. They also have a traditional Irish breakfast with chips, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon ($95).

It’s the kind of heavy, greasy food that hits the spot after a night out and it starts at noon on weekends. They have bottomless Mimosas ($120), Bellinis ($120), and Bloody Marys ($150) if you want to keep the party going or fend off a hangover for another few hours. And they also have decaf coffee, something of a rarity in Buenos Aires.

Location: Costa Rica 4619, Palermo
When: Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm
Cost: $65+

The Lux: Elena at The Four Seasons

Fancy something fancy? The Four Seasons’ Elena restaurant may have what you’re looking for. The lux former mansion-turned-hotel has one of the most decadent brunches in the city. It will set you back a cool $690, but the all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch has some delicious offerings.

Featuring an array of seafood like garlic prawns, octopus and a catch of the day, as well as a charcuterie with cheeses, cold cuts, and smoked meats, there’s probably something there for even the pickiest eaters. There are also beef dishes for the true Argentine in all of us, a dessert station with ice cream and cakes and, of course, unlimited wine.

Be sure to make a reservation because it fills up quite quickly.

Location: Posadas 1086/88
When: Sundays from 12.30pm to 3.30pm
Cost: $690 per person

The Healthy Splurge: Ninina

If you’re looking for a back to basics brunch that you won’t leave feeling 5kg heavier, consider Ninina’s option for two. At just over $430 for two people, it’s a bit pricey, but it’s also delicious.

A healthier option prepared fresh at Ninina (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

A healthier option prepared fresh at Ninina (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

Opened two years ago, Ninina made its mark with some of the best pastries and desserts in Buenos Aires. They’re freshly made in house and as a bonus you can watch their chefs make them through a glass wall into the kitchen.

The décor feels chic and European with marble, white tiles, warm wooden floors and lots of light. It’s the perfect place for a casual brunch with friends or a cozy date.

The coffee here is good, with a selection of beans from around the world. The brunch menu gives a choice of pancakes, waffles, eggs, and a delicious homemade granola with seeds, pears, blueberries and strawberries. They also have fresh juices made from fruits and vegetables.

Also check out the cool selection of cocktails like the beet martini and the rest of the extensive menu that includes burgers and sandwiches.

The staff are friendly and attentive even though it opens at 9am on weekends, making it the perfect way to start your morning early before the rest of the city rolls out of bed.

Location: Gorriti 4738, Palermo
When: Every day until 3pm
Cost: $432 (for two)

The Budget Yum: Mooi

Technically not considered a brunch by itself – they call it a breakfast – trendy Mooi gets our vote because for under $100 you can eat a delicious meal that includes coffee or tea and a glass of orange juice.

Technically not a full brunch, but Mooi is a great option for hearty, good-value breakfasts. (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

Technically not a full brunch, but Mooi is a great option for hearty, good-value breakfasts. (Photo: Azzura Lalani)

Mooi’s Palermo location is a cute spot that feels sort of like an industrial loft, but at the same time remains warm and bright. The ceiling has dozens of brightly patterned lampshades and there’s a lot of attention to detail in the décor.

On the menu are scrambled eggs with a New York bagel and cream cheese, delicious waffles with a berry coulis, a yoghurt parfait, and a few other meals. They’re all tasty and well prepared and the perfect option if you’re looking for someplace nice that won’t break the bank. And, of course, they also have a solid drinks menu.

Location: Cuba 1985, Belgrano and Costa Rica 5468, Palermo
When: Palermo: Tuesdays to Sundays from 9am until close. Belgrano: All week from 9am until close.
Cost: $80+

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The Indy Eye: Buenos Aires Pride Parade 2015


Saturday marked the 24th Marcha Del Orgullo LGBTIQ, Buenos Aires’ annual pride festival and parade. The colourful party began in Plaza de Mayo with concerts, vendors, and speakers advocating the advancement of Transgender rights, and ended at nightfall after brightly decorated floats and drummers paraded down to Congreso. Thousands of people from all ages and walks of life joined in the jovial celebration honouring the city’s LGBTIQ community while also calling for a new national law against discrimination.

All photos by Reilly Ryan

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Indy Eye- Pride Parade

Posted in Life & Style, Lifestyle, Multimedia, Photoessay, Society, The City, TOP STORYComments (0)

Thousands Still Without Power in Buenos Aires


Over 60,000 Buenos Aires residents remain without power in Recoleta and Palermo after a massive outage caused by damage to cables yesterday.

The local power company, Edesur, announced that 35,000 residents regained power earlier today, while La Nación report saying that “with luck” power will be completely regained by tomorrow. However, Edesur continues to stress that the problem is very complicated and that they are not sure when the issue will be entirely resolved.

Residents in several neighbourhoods continued to report power outages this afternoon (Photo: acanohayluz.com.ar)

Residents in several neighbourhoods continued to report power outages this afternoon (Photo: acanohayluz.com.ar)

The collaborative website ‘Acá No Hay luz‘, in which users can report power outages in their building and street, also showed ongoing problems in Recoleta and surrounding areas this afternoon.

According to an Edesur press release, the incident that caused outages occurred minutes after midday yesterday (13th October) at the corner of Av. Figueroa Alcorta and Vaz Ferreiro, where Telmex was working with a tunnel-boring machine.

“The actions of this machine, which works on public roads, caused severe damage by drilling into two sets of three 132kv high voltage power cables, leaving the Azcuénaga and Paraná substations without power,” Edesur’s press release stated.

Today, the government opened a legal case against Telmex for causing the large power outages.

Rafael Llorens, the legal and technical sub-secretary of the Urban Planning Ministry, who opened the case against Telmex, called the company’s actions “irresponsible.”

He also used the moment to attack City Mayor Mauricio Macri, claiming that it is “unacceptable that the Government of the City of Buenos Aires does not control and regulate companies contracted and authorised to carry out works in the district.”

Edusur told Clarín this morning that they plan to place 60 large, mobile generators in Recoleta to help regain power for some affected peoples, but as of now little change has been made to the situation.

The company says it continues to work in order to resolve the issue.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Mural of the Month: Fierro Hotel


Lucas Lasnier a.k.a. Parbo has been painting in the streets of Buenos Aires since 2001. A graphic designer by trade, he opened the multi-disciplinary art and design practice Kid Gaucho with fellow street artist Larva in 2002, working inside as well as out.

parbo1

The composition of his wall done this month on the front of the Fierro Hotel in Palermo Hollywood combines swirling red vortexes with blue vegetation and is emblematic of his current colour palette and echoes recent works by the artist on canvas and textile.

parbo2

This is the second mural that the boutique hotel has commissioned for its façade, the previous mural painted last year by local artist TEC. Other walls by Parbo can be found in Palermo and neighbouring Colegiales, where his design studio is based. 

parbo5

This façade can be found at Fierro Hotel, Soler 5862, Palermo Hollywood.

Images courtesy of Parbo. To see more of his work, visit his tumblr.

This article was produced in collaboration with Graffitimundo, a non-profit organisation which celebrates graffiti and street art in Buenos Aires and supports local artists. For more information on the artists, exhibitions, and Buenos Aires street art tours, visit their website or facebook page

Posted in Life & Style, The City, TOP STORY, Underground BAComments (0)

Get Me Out of Here! Real-Life Escape Games in Buenos Aires


You can rob a museum, escape from prison or a psychiatric ward and you don’t have to leave the city or actually risk yourself in any way. All you need to do is participate in these live quests. You have 60 minutes to sort out puzzles and find hidden clues to escape from the room in which you are locked. Are you in for a rush of adrenaline? Buckle your seatbelt and dive into an awesome adventure.

Participants have 60 minutes to find the key and escape the room they are locked in (photo: Matías Lamouret)

Participants have 60 minutes to find the key and escape the room they are locked in (photo: Matías Lamouret)

A couple of gangsters are locked in a room with the corpse of one of the most prestigious detectives in town, who has been murdered in a mysterious way. The gang had nothing to do with it but, still, its members are the main suspects, because that private investigator had been trying to catch them red-handed for a long time. Now they are inside the victim’s office with his dead body lying on the ground and they must find their way out before the police arrive. Will they be able to do it?

This is the plot of a thriller. It’s not one you’ll read about or watch on the big screen, but rather one you’ll take part in, if you have the courage to do so. The scenario is called ‘Detective Spencer’s Office’ and is one of the two games you can play in Eureka Leg, which opened in September 2014 as the first place to offer real-life escape games in Argentina and South America. 

The origin of this sort of game can be traced back to 2006. In Silicon Valley, a group of system programmers created the first real-life escape game ever, following the logic of video games of this sort. The main concept is that, in 60 minutes, participants must find clues and strategies that will help them find the key to open the door of the room in which they are locked. The experience was a success, and a year later, Japanese Takao Kato, one of the main players in this field, followed suit with another escape game in Kyoto. Since then, the phenomenon has spread all over the world. It is believed almost 250,000 people have participated in these activities in the US, Asia, and Europe, where these games are extremely popular.

Christian (L) and Diego, owners of Eureka Leg (photo: Matías Lamouret)

Christian (L) and Diego, owners of Eureka Leg (photo: Matías Lamouret)

Although quite new in Argentina, such activities have been in the spotlight recently. “People come here looking for adventure and fun. They are tired of going to pubs or cinema, they need something different,” explains Cristian Buono, who owns Eureka Leg, along with Diego Pontoriero and Roy Christensen. They receive around 1,800 visitors every month and are currently designing new rooms to keep up with a growing demand.

These escape games not prove to be a great place to hang out with friends, but they could also be used a good a sort of “personality test” for companies wanting to analyse their workers.

“Human resources use these games to see how their employees analyse a situation, how they work under pressure, and also as a team-building strategy, because it’s crucial to work together in a group to find a solution. It is very difficult to solve the puzzles on your own,” points out Danil Tchapovsky, one of the founders of Juegos Mentales, in San Telmo.

Tchapovsky first came into contact with the concept in March 2014 in his native Russia. “I played in Moscow and it was mind blowing,” he says, and as soon as he arrived in the country shared his idea with his friend and now business partner, Alexander Matviychuk. “At first we weren’t sure if it was going to work out but decided to give it a try. We didn’t have much money, so we used our savings and did as much as we could, ourselves: we decorated the place, painted the rooms, it was really hard work,” he remarks.

They opened Juegos Mentales in March and, at first, it wasn’t exactly a success. “People didn’t know what it was about. But once it got media coverage things changed and now we are almost always fully booked,” he concludes, adding that over 10,000 participants have visited Juegos Mentales where two possible scenarios are offered: the psychiatric ward and the museum robbery. They are currently working on four other options – including one called ‘The Pirate’s House’ – that will be inaugurated in spring.

Danil stands with the 'victim' in one of the rooms at Juegos Mentales (photo: Matías Lamouret)

Danil stands with the ‘victim’ in one of the rooms at Juegos Mentales (photo: Matías Lamouret)

“There is no age limit: we receive children from around eight [it is not advised to take younger kids because the puzzles might be too difficult form them] and others who are over 60. And also we get visitors from both genders and different interests. We have even received claustrophobic people who tell us that had such a good time that they forgot all about their problems and enjoyed the game all along,” remarks Buono.

Why do people enjoy this type of activity so much? “They like the challenge it represents. They love sorting out puzzles and it’s also something completely different and new here,” he adds.

“I believe the rush of adrenaline visitors experience is very much like the one they have when riding a rollercoaster,” concludes Tchapovsky.

Juegos Mentales is based in San Telmo, at Venezuela 638. Prices range from $320 to $620 per group, depending on the time of day and size of the group. Visit their website for more information and reservations. 

 

EurekaLeg is in Almagro, on Billinghurst 835. Prices range from $120 to $255 per person, depending on the size of the group and the time of day. Visit their website for more information and reservations. 

 

Follow Desirée Jaimovich here: @djaimovich

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