The phrase en pampa y la via is an Argentina Spanish slang expression that means poor and penniless. While in the book Speaking Argento: A Guide to Argentine Spanish I am more focused on translating and explaining these types of sayings into English, I was curious about the origin of this phrase. Sergio Vázquez in his blog Significado y Origen de Expresiones Famosas gives us the answer:
"That crossing of La Pampa street with Mitre railroad tracks, right in front of Barrancas de Belgrano neighborhood, achieved fame more than 100 years ago, when the racetrack was located where the River Plate stadium now stands. There, bettors who lost everything, even the last coin to return to their homes, enjoyed a complimentary service offered to them by the racecourse itself, which was to take them on a special tram to the intersection of La Pampa and train tracks (vías), so that from that populated area, they had more options to return to their homes."