Sometimes, you run into beauty in unexpected places, like the down-at-the-heels port of La Boca, an area that was once a poor Italian immigrant community and is now a lively, thriving, and cheerfully trashy part of Buenos Aires, equally adored by tourists and the locals who make money off them.
I wandered around happily taking photos yesterday until I found a taxi, whose driver scolded me all the way back to my apartment for walking around alone in such a bad part of town, although nobody had bothered me or even looked twice at me and my battered camera.
I have always been drawn to "bad" parts of town anyway. I feel more comfortable where the people are loud and the colors are bright, and you find breathtaking items of carelessly casual beauty stowed in hidden corners.
The truly dangerous parts of town are the grim ones, the concrete jungles punctuated only by garish and soulless strip malls, endless streets without trees, or colors, or even flowers in the windowsills to ameliorate the hellishness of the grey outside. Those are the places nobody should ever have to live, and the places I will never feel safe.
But even the tiniest effort makes a difference, erasing the fine line between unrelenting, quotidian ugliness and transcendent beauty.