Life is what's happening while you're busy making other plans

24 janvier 2010

Last day in Buenos Aires

As I explained in my previous post, we were already suprised by the fact that red lights come after the crossroad. Last night, we spent the evening with some argentinian friends. They came to pick us up by car, and we also noticed that there are no one-way signs or no-entry signs. So we asked our friends how they knew if a street was one-way or not and in which direction to go. They explained that it was thanks to the red lights. If there is a red light only on the left side of the road, it means that it's a one-way street going from right to left and that it was also a question of feeling in Buenos Aires. Just as they were explaining this, we turned into a big avenue and stopped at the next crossroad. There our friend says to us "see here, there is a red-light in front of us so we know we're in the right direction... well actually I can't see the red light, it's hidden behind the trees... wait, did someone steal the red light?!" That's when a taxi coming in the opposite direction stops next to us to tell us that we were on a one-way avenue, headed in the wrong direction! Not the proudest moment of our friend, but it definitly gave us a good laugh. And we're still not convinced that red-lights and instinct are the best way to go! Please Cristina, put some one-way signs in the streets of Buenos Aires!

There is really a divide in the population in Argentina. We go the impression in Buenos Aires that many people were just hanging around, not knowing where to go, what to do, lost. People will sell you anything in the streets: cds, dvds, mobile phone pouches, socks...

We saw the most amazing kid in Buenos Aires. He came around to the terrace where we were having a drink. He must have been 6 or 7. He had a small accordeon, no more than 10 keys. He placed himself near one of the tables and started to play his accordeon (you can already imagine the harmonious sound it made) and started to shout, not sing, the most ridiculous love song. The owner of the bar came around and told him to stop torturing that song and to just stick to the accordeon in the future, then asked him to leave. But he stuck to his ground until the people at the table he was standing by gave him a coin for making them laugh. After getting his coin, he trotted off inside the bar to have a chat with the bar owner. Ten minutes later we saw him walk out of there with a plastic bag full of empanadas! We were impressed by this little kid's ability to get by, but it wasn't over yet. He then walked over to a man selling ice cream. He didn't ask for anything, but started pressing on all the buttons on the ice-cream machine and getting in the way of the ice-cream man. It didn't last for 2 minutes, that the guy shoved an ice-cream cone into his hand and pushed him away. And off he went happily, within 15 minutes he had bagged himself coins, a bag of empanadas and an ice-cream. Very efficient!

The minimum salary according to the government is 1500 pesos per month. A young person who has gone to university will start off around 2500 pesos per month. In Buenos Aires, an average rent for a flat is 1200 pesos. So, do the math, it's impossible to get by with the minimum salary, and the salary of a young worker is not much better.
And yet, spending the evening with some argentinian friends, we realised that at least two people at the table knew someone who had gotten breast implants. It suprised me a lot, since plastic surgery is generally very expensive. However, they explained that expensive private health coverage companies attract customers by offering a free plastic surgery operation (of the customer's choice) every three years! I nearly fell off my chair. Apparently, many people have access to this, as companies pay the basic private health coverage for their employees, and the employees just need to pay the difference in order to get the "upper grade" coverage and therefore get access to free plastic surgery.

Today is our last day in Buenos Aires, time to get moving again. We're hopping on a bus to Salta (up north), a wee 19-hour bus ride...


Posté par wendorej à 15:07 - Argentina - Permalien [#] Partager