City Experiences

Good Gringo, Bad Gringo – Part 3: Feria Mataderos

Sam Ginsburg

By | October 13, 2009 | 5 comments

buenos aires, argentina Photo by John Harris

Good Gringo, Bad Gringo is back. In our first two adventures (Good Gringo, Bad Gringo Part 2 Asado), Good Gringo Charles showed why cultural understanding and adapting to your surroundings are important. Bad Gringo Larry, on the other hand, was lucky not to get killed. In this installment, both of our subjects are heading over to La Fería Mataderos, a fun way to spend your Sunday afternoon.

The Mataderos fair is an interesting alternative to the other Sunday fairs. Located on the south-west edge of Capital Federal, Mataderos offers a less touristy atmosphere. Simply put, the folklore dancers there are not doing it for tourists. They are doing it because they like to dance. The fair also offers live music, great food, and plenty of productos artesanales (hand crafted, local artist made) to look at and purchase. Let’s see how our two favorite gringos perform at this cultural experience.

Charles wants to go to Mataderos. Before he leaves, he does a little research and finds out that one great way to travel there is taking the subte to Constitution, then taking a bus from there. He already knows the bus number, so when he gets there he asks for where that bus stops and easily gets on his way.

Larry wants to go to Mataderos, too. Like Charles, he knows that he should head over to Constitution, but he doesn’t take the time to look up what bus he needs. When he gets to the area with all the buses, he refuses to ask anyone for help. He instead wanders around for an hour with his head stuck in the Guía-T.

When Charles’ bus arrives, he tells the bus driver where he is going and politely asks him to tell him when they get there. The bus driver agrees, and then punches in the correct ticket price.

When Larry’s bus arrives, he curses the driver for taking so long to get there. He tells the driver that he is going to Mataderos, and that he wants to get there quickly. When the bus driver punches in the price, Larry realizes that he doesn’t have any change to pay for the ticket. He asks the people waiting in the long line behind him, but all of them refuse his request. During the commotion, the bus driver raises the price of Larry’s ride, just because he is causing problems.

As the bus is pulling away, Charles finds an empty seat at the front of the bus and sits down. However, at the next stop, an elderly woman gets in the bus. Charles quickly offers her his seat and goes to find a comfortable place to stand up for the rest of the long bus ride.

As the bus is pulling away, Larry finds an empty seat at the front of the bus and sits down. However, at the next stop, a pregnant woman gets on the bus. Larry looks out the window as if he doesn’t realize she is there. After he refuses to get up, a middle-aged woman with many bags finally gives up her seat to the poor woman. Larry congratulates himself for not having to stand up, because that would “totally suck.”

Charles is happy when he finally arrives. He has heard a lot about this fair, and is excited to try it out. He stops to watch the horse show for a while, with men dressed in gaucho gear trying to grab a small ring with something that looks like a pencil. He is amazed at how close they get, and applauds even though nobody is able to complete the difficult feat.

Larry is annoyed when he finally arrives. Despite having a seat, he hated the bus ride, and tells himself that this fair better be worth it. When he sees the horse show, he laughs at the men’s costumes, wondering why they aren’t dressed like real cowboys. He gets annoyed that nobody can grab the ring, saying that it can’t be that hard and that he would be able to do it, if he had only worn the right shoes. He scoffs when everyone cheers, and curses loudly despite the fact that many children are present.

Charles makes his way though the front of the fair to the big stage, where music is playing. He likes the music but doesn’t recognize it, so he asks the person standing next to him for some more insight. The old man happily explains the origins of the music. Charles enjoys himself, but is aware of his surroundings, and after a while he heads over to the fair tables.

Larry pushes his way over to the stage. Determined to be in the very front, he pushes people out of the way until he can get the perfect view of the performance. He is quickly bored, and tells the old lady standing next to him that the band really sucks. While standing in the middle of the large crowd, somebody reaches into Larry’s pocket and grabs the money sitting loosely in his wallet. Larry doesn’t realize, and eventually pushes his way towards the fair tables.

Charles is impressed with all the leather goods and knives. He asks a few people for prices, but decides that he wants to wait until he sees everything before buying something.

Larry is also impressed with the leather goods and knives. He buys a large knife and a belt at the first table he sees. He asks for the price in English, so the artist immediately raises the price by 150%. He goes to get his money, but when he can’t find it he figures that he left it at home. He takes the bills he had hid in his socks and pays for the goods. At the very next table, he finds better versions of the things he’d bought for half the price.

Hungry, Charles goes over to the food stand and orders a tamale and a portion of locro. He enjoys trying these new foods and is pleasantly surprised.

Hungry, Larry orders a portion of Paraguayan soup, but gets angry when it is not actually soup. He throws it away and orders 10 empanadas. He eats half of them, then throws the rest away.

Charles goes back to buy what he wanted, then decides that it is getting late and that he better head on home. He doesn’t want to be in Mataderos or Constitution after dark, just to be on the safe side. When he arrives home, he tells his friends how much fun he had, and recommends that they check out the fair some time.

Larry goes around and over pays for a few more things. He pulls out his Guia-T again to find out how to get home. After an hour of wondering, he decides to take a taxi. He waits for a while for one to show up, then realizes that he is broke. He asks the driver to head to an atm, where the taxi waits for him to take out money with the clock still running. Larry spends a lot of money on the day, which is ironic because Mataderos is a relatively inexpensive fair. When he gets home, he writes a blog post about how expensive Mataderos is, and how the men on horses were total amateurs.

Once again, Charles ends his day on a happy note, while Larry is bitter and alone. Tune in next time to see what happens next!

To read the next addition to the Buenos Aires Good Gringo, Bad Gringo Part 4, A Trip to the Immigration Office

Wow! Don't forget to check the 'Activities you might like' right here


  1. Carito

    14/10/2009 - 12:11 am

    Nice article! I love to go to La feria de Mataderos, besides a friend of mine has a table (puesto) there, she sells really nice necklaces.

  2. Cherie

    14/10/2009 - 1:28 am

    It's my favorite thing to do on a Sunday in Buenos Aires!

  3. Fabian Diaz

    03/07/2010 - 8:10 pm


    I was laughing and laughing, and almost fall down from my chair !!!

    Too many Larrys in this world…ha ha ha

  4. Scott

    05/05/2012 - 12:24 pm

    I am currently in BsAs on a work assignment until the end of May. Fortunately, I fit the “Charles” description. I look forward to visiting the fair tomorrow.
    Great site and good information for us “Gringos”.
    Keep up the articles. They are very helpful in know what is expected for asados etc.

    1. webmaster

      07/05/2012 - 12:05 pm

      Thanks Scott! Don’t worry, we all have a little Larry and Charles in us.