I went to the Parque Rivadavia on a sunny Sunday morning. Like every other Sunday, the fair was there. I took with me three jazz records I expected to trade. Laure, being more the bookish type, had some books in French. “I want to trade them for something in Spanish”, she said, “so I can practice”. She was a Canadian I had met at the hostel whom I was trying to impress. The day before she had asked me where she could find used books and records. I guess she was expecting me to recommend her some whole-in-the-wall kind of shop in San Telmo or something of the sort. But hey, I was out to impress, right? “Are you up for an early start tomorrow?” I asked her. “Sure, why?” she said looking puzzled. “I know just the place. It´s a big fair on Sundays in Caballito where you can get pretty much anything. Books, all sorts of pirated cd´s and dvd´s, and even a numismatic fair. You can buy or trade whatever you have”. Laure smiled a pretty smile. “Do you think they´ll trade my French books?” she asked. We got off bus number 8 in Avenida Rivadavia 4800, right across the street from the park. The big statue of Simon Bolivar right in the middle seemed to promise us the glory of Latin America. Funny how he now guards one of the biggest enclaves of illegal commerce in the city, but hey, who reads the small print that says cd´s cannot be exchanged, sold, or whatever anymore, right? At least in Argentina no one does. We passed the big tree at the entrance (the park was fenced a few years ago to prevent people from flooding the streets, this being a popular fair and all), and Laure beamed at me. “This is so cool!” she said, and I sort of flushed.
The park was full of people already. Long haired people, many of them dressed in black, crowded the cd´s section; intellectual-looking people, probably philosophy or literature students, filled the book stands; and in the carrousel, little children played while their parents enjoyed the free trade. Laure ran off toward the book section, and I strode off to the record fair. After a lot of haggling I managed to trade my records for some Miles Davis and Carlos Gardel albums. I also got tempted with the millions of rare bootlegs, and I bought a few. Then I met Laure again by the ombu tree. She had found the books she wanted, some Borges and Garcia Marquez, I think, and looked very happy under the warm sun. “This is so cool!” she said again, looking around. “Yeah, I thought you´d like it”, I said, flushing one more time. “Let´s sit under the tree for a bit”, she told me. “Careful!” I exclaimed. “There´s a ghost under that tree”. There are some ghost legends around. Laure sat down anyway and smiled. “The whole place is full of ghosts”, she said.
Av. Rivadavia 4800
Sat-Sun 9AM to 8PM
Subway: Acoyte, A line
Por Esteban Lleonart