Monday, February 27, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
All smart travellers know that bus stations, airports, border crossings, and places of general convergence tend to attract all sorts of scum. Beyond the usual beggars, buskers, or loitering laggards, there are a few clever crooks always seeking to steal anything of value. Some schemes go to outrageous measures to ensure a dirty dollar, while others simply prey on ignorance. My encounter in Buenos Aires falls somewhere in the middle, relying mostly on excellent timing combined with a skillful plan.
I’ve handled crack heads in Costa Rica, urchins in Nicaragua, bustling desperates crossing to Cambodia, child clad gypsies in Italy, and even sly thieves in Canadian airport security; all of which tried to steal my belongings. This occurrence only took a bit of ink, some fast hands, and a moment of clouded thinking, and quite literally a single moment.In retrospect, I really should have followed ALL of my in-transit rules, and should not have left out the’ keeping my debit and credit card separate’. I also should have taken a taxi to the bus station. I also wish I had spat on the woman I knew was trying to rob me. The truth is though, I didn’t know she actually had robbed me until I was nearly at the bus that I eventually boarded. The scheme went like this:
A woman approaches you with a black substance on her fingers, saying you have something on your bag. She offers Kleenex to help clean it up. You politely refuse and keep walking. She persists and even grabs at your backpack buckles. You say no thank you and keep walking …. And that’s it.
Truth is, I actually do have a big black mark on my back of my bag. The mark of shame I’ve been calling it. I almost give the woman credit for doing her job so well. I mean, I kept my purse in front, by my hips the entire time; I kept walking, didn’t stop, and told her to go away. Kind of amazing, but such is my encounter with the Buenos Wallet Snatcher. The sneaky bitch ….
Sunday, February 19, 2012
At 10:30, the square you had walked into was fairly deserted. Just a few people setting up fold-up chairs and umbrellas, turning the square into an extended version of their restaurants. Wide leaved trees rimmed the raised cobble stoned square, as did the beautiful and ornate colonial architecture that seemingly never ends in Buenos Aires. It was quiet, hot and nothing adherently special.
The day time walk into the micro center proved to be somewhat similar – besides the long walking boulevard, many shops and even restaurants were barely operational. Men in suits scurried along, while women window shopped the expensive stores that line the business sector and Avenida Florida. Many people were scattered in the occasional squares you came across, simply napping or enjoying a helado. It was hot, sweaty, and kind of unimpressing; The food options seemingly boring.
You consider staying in this night to make your own meal, as to save money. But no, you really want to try this famous Argentine steak. The moment you step out of the iron gated doors into Buenos Aires after dusk, you notice a change; People are out walking their dogs, lining up at popular restaurants, collecting at doorsteps to talk about the day. They even populate that nearly deserted square. Buskers are abundant, and absolutely amazing; you have never heard better, consistent street performances anywhere else in the world.
After dinner, you find yourself back at the square where you had started the day. The fold-out chairs are nearly full, crowded around an amplifier and simplified drum set. As you wait for the music to start, The Spaniard, The Swiss girl and you enjoy a jug of Sangria. The night progresses into a warm, perfectly cliché Buenos Aires experience. Beautifully played guitar notes scream into the night air, as people dance amongst the square. Sexually charged tango performances are to follow while children juggle for money, and friends laugh over vino and beer. It is a good night.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Red eyed with wickedly curly locks, a backpack and slightly stinky attire is how I rolled into my abode for the night. I just spent a not-so-agonizing twenty hours flying from Calgary to Toronto to Santiago and finally landing in Buenos Aires. I wish I had been more cognitive for the bus ride from the airport to the city center. Between head nods however, the city looked amazing. And huge. It’s exactly as everyone told me it would be, a cross between any European city and any Latin one.
The slums next to the highway have more brick and mortar than a lot of the Latin places I’ve been, but they also have more tin roofs than any European one I’ve seen either. What I noticed first was the well maintained green spaces along the highway – park spaces even. No litter. The traffic was what I expected, although the tree lined boulevards weren’t necessarily.I have been greeted with thunder and torrential rain. And a cheap bottle of wine, like $2 kinda cheap …. And yep, I just tasted it …. It tastes like what I would imagine $2 wine to taste like. Light. Sugary. Acidic…. In need of brandy and juice.