Buenos Aires park in decline

This item appears on page 52 of the July 2011 issue.

I read the subscriber’s letter about pickpockets at Plaza San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina (April ’11, pg. 56). I witnessed this during my stay, Nov. 24-27, 2010.

Staff at our hotel, the Marriott Plaza Hotel Buenos Aires, suggested that we avoid the nearby Plaza San Martin subway station and, instead, walk 15 to 20 minutes to the next station so we could have a direct train and not have to change lines. I didn’t realize they also were cautioning us for safety reasons.

After a few days, my 16- and 20-year-old sons and I took the Plaza San Martin station. As soon as we walked down the stairs and entered the station, we noticed two “sleeping” vagrants. The businessman right behind us got his wallet stolen by these two thieves. They dashed up the stairs leading to the street and vanished.

The security guard just stood there and watched. The businessman yelled at him, then proceeded to chase the thieves. Only after I yelled at the guard and gestured to the exit stairs did he join the chase.

This was our fourth visit to Buenos Aires. In years past, we enjoyed sitting in the beautiful park at Plaza San Martin. This time, it was trash-filled and attracted more vagrants than tourists. We just didn’t feel safe there.

My sons and I picked up a lot of trash in the park, and it looked so much better after our efforts. The residents looked at us as if we were crazy.

By the way, if you go to Buenos Aires, be sure to see the pristine and lovely Botanical Garden. The residents seem to take great pride in this lovely area. Pet the friendly felines living in the garden, for us, and enjoy the bucolic surroundings.

Santa Fe, NM