Friday, July 25, 2008

Tidbits from Buenos Aires

  • I was waiting for the bus the other night to go to Salsa class, but it didn't come. I was running low on time, so I hailed a cab. I ended up having a great conversation with the driver.
    • I said it must be difficult to drive a cab in such a big city. He said it's no problem. I asked if he had to take a test. Twenty-five years ago, when he began driving, he bribed the official who gives the test, and he got his license. He said this is the way it's done. Most people in the city know where they need to go, so they could just tell him. Eventually, he learned the city. Now, he pretty much knows the whole city, at least good enough to get you close. On occasion, with a little help from the ride, it's no problem.
    • The other thing he mentioned is how, nowadays, kids tend to leave the home at an early age, as in the States and Europe. When he was a kid, the family stayed together (as in Eastern Europe today, and maybe other regions like Asia). He prefers the traditional structure. There are still families who live together here in Buenos Aires—grandparents, parents, and children—and I even know some of them, but it's less common than in decades past.
  • I don't think I wrote about this before, so I'll mention it now. When I first got back to Buenos Aires two months ago, I stayed in a hostel called Hostel Estoril. It was extremely cheap. For this reason, I thought I was in Israel. That is to say, Israelis are known for traveling on the cheap. In fact, they can find something that's really, really cheap, and still barter to get a better deal. This hostel was super inexpensive, and it was probably 90% Israelis. I had never heard much Hebrew before, but that's about all I heard for two weeks. In fact, my Hebrew is now better than my Spanish.
  • Along with my camera and other items that I purchased over the Internet to have sent down, I bought a very small travel guitar. It was sent down separately, so I went to the post office on a second day to pick it up. When my number was called, I went through the door and into the back to get it. The guy put it on the table and opened it up. He asked if it was new. I said yes. The declared value on the package was $500—approximately the cost of the guitar along with a few other items in the box (extra strings, a pitch pipe, a cable, etc.). He told me I would have to pay a 50% import tax and I could walk down to the end where there is a "bank." Long story short, I told him I wasn't going to pay anything and didn't want it, so he taped the box back up and took it away, to send it back to the address of origin. I find it interesting that Argentina is actually willing to pay money just because I wouldn't let them rape me. Not very smart, in my not-so-humble opinion.
  • I ran out of albuterol (my inhaler for asthma) and figured I'd try to get more before leaving the biggest city in Argentina. There's a pharmacy on every corner, so I went into one. They didn't have the exact same drug, so they gave me an alternative. She said it does the same thing. I bought two of them, at ten bucks a pop. It seems to do the trick—no prescription necessary.


Cheryl Mingo said...

Just a thought. They said they were going to send your guitar back to the place of origin but it's more likely that they will keep it for themselves. :)
Were you hoping to get your money back from wherever you bought it?

Jay said...

Actually, I figured I would just keep it and play it when I get home. Regardless, I guess it doesn't matter now! There's nothing I can do about it. I'll just have to see what happens. Ain't humanity grand?!