Today was an interesting day. As I was taking a shower right now after a couple hours at the gym I kept thinking about the different situations and a few of the pics I took. All in all, these are things you eventually get used to here in Argentina, but I’m sure those of you living in US and other countries might find interesting, and as the economy keeps getting worse these will be scenarios you’ll come familiar with as well.
I had to run a few errands in the capital district so after showering and grabbing my bag I walked to the corner where the private minibus usually makes its stops. Much nicer and safer than public transportation, this is my choice these days for when going to the capital district. The minibus is fast, you travel seated (wont stop once they are out of seats) and they have air conditioning. The 9 pesos required for the trip will filter some of the less fortunate, and I admit it’s a nice change from the bus or train where you often find puke all over the floor, drunkards, vagabonds, beggars, and honestly people just smell bad. In my opinion how bad the train smells during rush hour is a good indicator of how poor the country’s citizens have become. You also avoid the pickpocketers that take advantage of the lack of space, all bunched one against the others, and the even more brutal gun to the face, give me your bag madness I witnessed once when the train was just packed full of people.
The first thing I noticed was that the garbage strike was over and man was I happy. The city just stunk and the rats threatened to outnumber the people even on broad daylight. Just a week of trash is enough to sink any average sized city in its own garbage, give it a week and you’ll have diseases spreading.
Attention survivalists, this is a BIG topic that should be taken into account. Prepare to dispose garbage AND prepare to deal with pest infestation and diseases.
This is what Bs As Capital district looked like just after two days of garbage recollection strike:
After doing the errands I stopped by the Ateneo, the largest book store in the country. I checked a book called “San Martin: Argentine Solider, American Hero” by John Lynch. Highly recommended, by the way. The man didn’t settle with freeing just his own country from the Spanish Empire, so he liberated a couple of our neighbors as well.
The book was on display for $ 109, but when I went to pay for it they asked me for $115.
“You know” I told the clerk, “I’m sure it said $109” She went and verified what I said, and she commented “Everything keeps going up in price, we can hardly keep up updating the prices”. That sent a cold chill down my spine, since the last time I heard a similar phrase was in December 2001, after Argentina made the biggest debt default in known history.
“Don’t worry though” she smiled back at me, probably noticing my expression that was more appropriate for “I see dead people”. In a way, it is an old ghost we all fear around here. “We have to charge you the price on display, there’s a law that says that”.
After that I went back to catch the minibus back home. We had to deviate because there was a protest in Avellaneda station: Last week several people got shot during a train syndicate fight, the government goons opened fire on the workers that were protesting injuring several and killing 23 year old Mariano Ferreyra. As we got off the avenue we got to see a bit of whats on the lateral streets. Usually the avenues look a bit better, and the further you get away form them the worst it gets. These are a few shanty houses, cardboard scavengers.
Back home we went to the supermarket. It was a nice day so it was mostly an excuse to walk a bit. A house that is about to get finished showed a bit of concern for squatters, a serious problem in Argentina. (notice the razor wire) and you can see the burglar bars and fences on the other houses as well. These are all pretty standard.
The supermarket also shows an intimidating fence, an addition after the looting of 2001/2002.
Its not all bad news, once again, its just the way you learn to live, the small things I notice and think are worth commenting on.
Remember to have fun people. Prepare, work out and always use common sense. Take care.