Kindness isn’t impossible despite days when it seems like it is

The anger over yesterday’s debacle at the airport is still too fresh to write a post about. Let’s just say that I’m still in Argentina, but now I’m an illegal immigrant!

I could have used some kindness yesterday. Instead I received blatant incompetency, inefficiency and indifference. But I’m getting over it. Each hour gets better. I was going to try and fly out this evening but I was too traumatized from yesterday’s events. Having one’s passport taken from them by immigration authorities can do that.

Lisa reminded me about a story many years ago when she was in China and her Visa had expired. Officials demanded that she pay a $500 fine and the next day she pleaded with authorities to let her leave the country. They lessened the fine to $160 and made her write a letter to the “Chinese people” apologizing for breaking their rules. After a week she was finally able to depart for India.

These stories are always funny in retrospect, but maddening while in the midst of it.

I’m going to spend Christmas Day alone, for only the second time in my life. Apparently there’s a wine tasting downtown in the afternoon that is frequented by expats so I’ll see if I can swing by and get drunk. Obviously. Hopefully the Subte is running.

Note to foreigners: If you plan on staying in Argentina for more than three months you have to pay a 300 peso fine when leaving. But the bank where they make you go to pay the fine doesn’t accept credit cards and the cash machines are either all out of money or don’t accept foreign debit cards. So make sure that if you have lived here for more than three months that you arrive at the airport with cash!

Another word of advice: there will be long line-ups with a lot of staff behind the counters but only one person actually working. I never understand how Argentina culture justifies paying people not to work when it has tremendous economic problems. Every place I have ever been in this country hires people to stand like poles and stare at you. They don’t do anything, they just stare. And this is acceptable. So don’t make the mistake, like I have many times, and think that an employee is going to work. Argentines put in long hours but spend most of those hours either on lunch, talking to colleagues, drinking mate, or standing and staring.


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