Things that baffle me about BA

The video above has nothing to do with the post I wrote below, but it’s funny. Plus Kim Richards reminds me of most Porteños in that she makes no fucking goddamn sense!

Now this might seem a little rude, and perhaps mildly xenophobic, but when you live in a developing country you soon realize why it’s developing. Usually the word ‘developing’ is looking on the bright side of reality and represents an ideal that will never be achieved.

I love Argentina, I really do, but there are very simple solutions to the many problems they face, that culturally they just haven’t figured out yet. For instance, ensure your entire staff has something to do. If your business is floundering and you’re low on cash, it doesn’t make sense to employ 15 people to sit around and do nothing. Any idiot with half a brain could figure that out.

Why are the gas stations always out of gas? I mean, this doesn’t happen anywhere else, does it? Okay, it doesn’t happen in North America. Argentines drive from station to station to receive the same news each time: ‘We’re out of gas’. Ahhh..  they always seem to have premium gas available though. How convenient!

Oh and wait, then driver’s have to queue and be directed to a pump by a slow-moving, lazy attendant. But it’s not over. You’re not allowed to pump your own gas, so when you finally make it to your pump after  30 minutes of waiting you have to wait even longer for one of the attendants — who is too busy chatting and babbling to his other attendant buddies — to come over and serve you. Then when he finally does his job, like attend to his customers, you have to wait as he processes your payment.

And why does the government subsidize everything? I mean, aren’t they broke? 50 per cent of the population lives in poverty for Christ’s Sake. The government subsidizes public transportation but doesn’t make it mandatory that riders on the overland train pay for their journey. Wouldn’t the solution to this problem involve a strategy that included payment for services acquired? I suppose they have to first admit that THERE IS A PROBLEM.

I could go on and on, and I probably will in a future post, but right now here are the top 5 things that irk me about Buenos Aires. Pay close attention to number 2 — that one really bothers me! Clearly.

1. Lack of change and small bills. I am paid in cash with 100 denominations. Bank machines dispense $100 bills only. Unfortunately shops in Buenos Aires rarely have change or small bills, making a desirable coffee run slow, arduous, languorous and often too painful for a repeat. I am asked consistently if I have change, and consistently I reply with NO. Shouldn’t businesses, who handle cash daily, have bills of every denomination? Wait wait wait. That would make too much sense.

2. Line-ups. A month ago I went to Farmacity to purchase a nose-hair trimmer. Laugh all you want but I need one! The cashier asked if I would like to add the free three-month warranty to my product in the likely event that it was defected. I agreed, paid the fee and she directed me to a man a few metres away who took my product out of the plastic bag, and then asked for my receipt. I happily handed it to him, and he nodded and pointed to the pharmacy and told me that I would have to speak with the pharmacist to finalize the warranty. I was confused, and argued that the date on my receipt was all I needed to prove when I had bought the merchandise. But if there was one thing I knew about Buenos Aires by this point, was to expect unnecessary steps with unclear, muddled justifications.  So I go to the pharmacist, but I have to take a number and queue even though I had already bought what I needed. When my number was called the pharmacist opened my product, removed the instruction manual and stamped it with the date of purchase. I was like, are you fucking serious? What should have taken two minutes lasted almost half an hour. And this is not an exaggeration.

3. People are slow. They are so slow that I have had thoughts of murder. If an Argentine promises to meet you at 3 p.m. immediately assume that he/she means 4:30 p.m. Argentines don’t rush for anything, unless they’re driving and are stopped by a red light. Then they’ll honk their horns in furious anger at the Gods for cursing them.

4. Dogs are well-behaved. Like too well-behaved. It’s weird. I think they might be robots. Like the Stepford Wives, but only dogs. Keep one eye open when you sleep.

5. Dog shit. It’s everywhere and you will step in it. I know from experience.

In summary most of Buenos Aires’ problems are cultural. That is all.

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Avenida Cabildo

5 months in Buenos Aires

Avenida Cabildo

Avenida Cabildo, one of the major arteries of Buenos Aires

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living in Buenos Aires for 5 months now. So much has happened yet I’m surprised with how normal it all seems. There are days where I’m bored out of my mind and then there are those where I’m exhausted from the energy of the city.

President Cristina Fernandez instituted several new holidays during the month of February and I plan on taking advantage of her generosity. For mid-February I have organized a trip to San Rafael in the province of Mendoza. I am renting a house for four nights with a pool. Isn’t that cool? I plan on relaxing, reading, writing and of course, visiting world famous vineyards in the Napa Valley of Argentina. In case you’re not familiar, Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America with over 800 wineries.

In addition to Mendoza, I’m also planning a trip to Colonia, Uruguay and Iguazu Falls later in the same month. While touring Iguazu I plan on staying at this hostel that I read about on the Time Travel Turtle’s blog. These trips ensure that I have lots of photos and stories to post on my blog which makes me a happy man.

Now that you are updated on my near-future plans have a look at some of the photographs I took this morning during my coffee run.

Avenida Cabildo

I live on Cuba and Congreso, a mere 2 minute walk to Avenida Cabildo where I catch the subte

Beunos Aires apartment

This is the exterior of the apartment building where I am staying in Buenos Aires

Cardboard

People like the boy you see to your right are know as los cartoneros, and they wander throughout Buenos Aires collecting cardboard in exchange for a few pesos

Frida Kahlo ristorante

Frida Kahlo ristorante

Graffiti in Buenos Aires

Graffiti is everywhere in Buenos Aires

House in Buenos Aires

I love the houses in Argentina