Reflections on Argentina

Well, as you know we arrived at the worlds Southerly most city before flying half way to Buenos Aires and visiting Puerto Madryn. There we felt like the only foreign travellers as the peak season was over and there were no ships in port lending the 2 thousand or so day visitors to the place. It was a dry flat landscape although I did note on our return to the Trelew airport there were a few hills in the area – but nothing like Torres del Paine.

Flying in to Buenos Aires was like entering another world. There was greenery everywhere and a massive waterway seemed to be surrounding this vast city. Arrival at the airport suggested we had arrived in a very affluent country and, we caught the airport transfer bus to downtown (the sick boy was not overly thrilled to find our hotel was some blocks away from the final stop), but the trip was interesting as a little detour due to roadworks showed us that a short trip off the beaten track were some pretty poor areas with some homes barely having a roof over the occupants heads. Clearly Buenos Aires (BA) has a great divide between the haves and have nots.

Walking the streets of the city you see (on more than one occasion) poverty stricken families begging for money in dirty clothes and clearly no home of great attraction – this is alongside some of the most expensive labels anywhere in the world. Practising something I had learned in Cambodia I suggested we do not give money to the children as (at least in Cambodia) that encourages the parents to put them on display and tug at peoples heartstrings. We agreed to give food when we saw someone clearly struggling. I did notice the same family street hopping a few times – and wondered what was going on there – we will never know.

The tourist bus around the city cleverly avoided the really poor areas so I’m glad we had the airport detour and accidentally caught the locals bus – BA is clearly not all the bright lights it seems on first impression.

On a different note – Just when we thought we had figured out the shopping hours (our last night in BA) we discovered we still had no idea what the hell was going on. It seemed they were closed in the morning as they opened late. Then they closed in the afternoon for siesta. Now it seems they close early at night so everyone can go and eat or dance – what the hell is going on? Day one was Sunday so maybe the closure in the morning was to do with that – the siesta is a given everywhere we go – but what is happening at night? How on earth does one find time to shop in this city?

Another point of note is an interesting titbit that my friend Ginger told me about. These ladies wear “big” shoes. This may be due to the fact that a high proportion of the population are vertically challenged or may be a death wish on behalf of all females here. These are not just high heels, these are platforms (even on thongs (or flipflops as the rest of the world call them) ) and they only just stop short of what I would consider to be a form of stilts! You can google High steppers and see one version of them. The reason I consider these “shoes” (read “stilts”) suicidal is that the footpaths and sidewalks are not exactly smooth sailing. Sometimes there are cobblestones, lids are left off service accesses, concrete is broken – you get the picture – what is going on here? You cant even tango in the darn things, yet every second woman is wearing them!

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