Monday, November 9, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Park


For a couple of months now my friend Ty and I have been planning a bike ride to an abandoned amusement park, Parque de la Cuidad, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Spring rain had canceled our last few attempts to get there, however, a few days ago, under a warm South American sun, we finally made it happen. According to maps the ride would take us through some sketchy parts of town so we packed light, and did our best to not look like outsiders. Unfortunately there's only so much two 30-something white guys over six feet tall can do to not look conspicuous in a part of town that doesn't get to many imports. It probably didn't help either, at least not while on the bikes, that we both had decided to wear white t-shirts and camouflage shorts that day, although later on I would be thankful for my choice of garments.

Parque de la Cuidad first opened in 1983 and based on what I've found online was open less than 10 years, making it left for dead for almost 20. When Ty first discovered this place a couple of years ago a security guard was posted at the main gate however people were still free to meander through the ramshackle never never land. Unfortunately when we arrived a few days ago we were saddened to see that the gates were gated and locked. Hating to have biked an hour just to see the outside of some old park we made the executive decision to lock up the bikes near the property line and jump the fence. We had no idea if security guards still patrolled inside and there was of course the chance our bikes wouldn't be there when we got back, but we decided to chance it anyway. The two hours after jumping the fence were probably two of the most surreal hours of my life.

(left) a sea of trams | (right) atop the big drop

Check out all of the photos Ty and I shot at the park on flickr here.

What transpired inside? The day after walking through the park I wrote down some of what happened. Below is what leaked out of my pen...

Raiders of the Lost Park - November 5th, 2009

Bike riding,
through city and shantytown.
On the outskirts of town.
Destination vacant amusement park.
Destination faded fun.
Main gates locked equals
time to jump the fence.
And we're in.
No sign of security.
And time stands still.

We walk through images of youth,
frozen and rusted over.
Void of people,
but full of brown flaking steel,
and sun-bleached plastic color.
Full of awe just the same.
Everything green is overgrown.
Birds squawk and holler everywhere.
Parrots, hawks, a sanctuary.
No sign of security.

We walk and we climb.
Climb on everything your not supposed.
Over turnstiles.
Up maintenance steps.
To the top of the giant coaster drop,
and back.
We climb on tracks.
On top of coasters.
We cut every imaginary line.
No sign of security

Nothing works,
and everything works,
in our heads at least.
We push moving parts.
They shriek and squeal.
We laugh.
We snap open Heineken's.
Two beers equals
part of "packing light".
We chill on a plastic and metal,
outdoor table for four,
next to the tower,
the "space needle".
We move on.
No sign of...wait.

"Down" says Ty under his breath.
We lie flat,
beers in hand.
75 yards away,
he's traveling by scooter on the access road.
He didn't see us.
We wait.
We sip.
He's gone,
and we're up,
heading in the opposite direction of 'him'.

Another roller coaster.
More jungle gym climbing,
and then to the carousel.
We push it,
like a merry-go-round.
It creeks, groans,.
and reluctantly spins.
We leave our beer cans on the revolving steel mass.
Our sign that life passed through today.
Off to the bumper cars.
We move 'em,
and blacken our hands
on decaying rubber.
Manual collisions.
Ty scrapes his arm.
Tetanus shots? We're both good.
No sign of security.

On through a figure eight go-kart track,
and its petrified go-karts,
parked like cars after the apocalypse.
We survey other no-named caged rides,
and survey the sun.
It's sinking.
We could spends days here,
but we gotta jet.
while there's still light.
Back to the bikes we head.
No sign of security.

We arrive at the tree line.
The property line.
Near the fence.
And a taxi.
Are the bikes still there?
We hide under the cover of trees,
and our camo shorts.
Why are they here?
How do we get out?
Deep breathe. We wait.
The cops leave.
A window of opportunity.
We head for the fence,
for the quick escape.
In haste I snag my hand on the barbed wire.
Is it bad?
Not sure. Gotta jet.
We unlock the bikes in negative 5 seconds
and were outta there,
both with minor injuries.
Battle wounds.

The hand's tender, but ok.
Just scratched up.
The taxi?
He saw us but no worries.
He was in a fender bender.
Thus the cops.
Just ironic timing and location.

I arrive home an hour later.
After dark.
I soak my wounds,
tell some stories,
and sleep like a rock,
or rusted roller coaster.

The sign of security.

(Two things - 1: There's no way I would have gone out there without Ty. It wasn't exactly in the best part of town nor open to the public (at least not when we were there). 2: Were it not for the previous bike explorations of my friends Jen and Ty I would never have heard about this place. Any photos I shot or things I make inspired by the trip are a direct result of their awesomeness.)

Currently Reading:
Monkey Wrench Gang
by Edward Abbey

Currently Listening To:
Song: Outlaws
Artist: Joe Purdy (myspace) (iTunes)

For more on how I first ended up in Buenos Aires check out the first post of Harmony and Dissonance.


Little Sis said...

This is BY FAR my most favorite story of your time abroad so far. So fun and random. If they really want to, anyone can hop a plane or a boat and climb a mountain or explore a new town and that's fun, too, but I want to sneak into an abandoned amusement park in a not so nice part of town and hide from getting caught. NICE.

Jimmy Danko said...

Thanks Little Sis. This was definitely one of my more memorable moments from living in Buenos Aires.

matias said...

me gusto mucho la historia del parque..... yo vivo en BsAs y fui una vez al parque de la ciudad en 1991 creo y hace un par de aƱos pase por la puerta y no puedo creer lo desolado que esta.