As we put our heads down to sleep at night, the scurrying noise overhead keeps us awake. It’s nothing too sinister, only Fido in the room above, running round. There are dogs in many apartments around us, with grills on balconies so they don’t fall out. Porteños love their pooches and it’s not unusual to see someone being dragged through parks and streets by six or seven bustling breeds. If on rare occasions, there are no tail-waggers visible, there’s always evidence of their presence.
Footpaths are dotted with dog droppings. Slippery stools are absolutely everywhere and one needs to tread carefully. But, this is only a secondary hazard because the main danger is the footpath itself. Buenos Aires streets are lethal; so far I’ve seen three people trip and badly hurt themselves on the uneven terrain. Rumour has it that everyone is responsible for the maintenance of the footpath outside their door but I presume it’s the council’s responsibility. Anyway, maintenance standards vary sharply.
Paths rise, fall, drop off and disappear into deep holes. Many paving slabs are broken, cracked and loose. Some aren’t there at all, leaving booby traps for the uninitiated. When it rains, the water lodges under slabs, rising them up at varying angles, creating a steeple-chase for pedestrians and an unwelcome muddy spray for the poor person behind, as they lift and drop. An Irish friend of mine came a cropper and ended up in the German Hospital in Recoleta. Given my unsteady ankles, I am watchful for every potential Beecher’s Brook as I sidestep puppy poop. Be careful out there!