Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It´s raining inside

More random thoughts on Buenos Aires...

Is it a leaky condo crisis like we have in Vancouver? A testament to the rebuilding of the Argentinian economy? Or perhaps just a long time coming, but many of the gorgeous colonial structures, especially in downtown Buenos Aires, are under tarp and scaffold. The famous Pink building Evita spoke from, government facilities, even the massive obelisk that marks the centre of the microcentre all dug up, fenced off, under wraps. Too bad for us, but in a few years when they are restored to their original splendor - and that´s an understatement - this city will shine once again.

Cheap stuff is not only for Las Turistas
Buying a pair of Brazillian sandals off the street outside the train station may seem like it was tailored to you, the tourist, but in fact it happens to be where everyone gets their gear. From Mate gourds to sunglasses, sandals and organizational binders the place to pick up your daily needs is almost always on the street. We could not count the number of these sandals we saw being worn, all of them sold only on the streets.

The appearing goods
Sitting in a cafe on a plaza or minding your business on the subway, it suddenly appears before your very eyes. That pen you have always been looking for. That singing, gaudy xmas card wrapped in plastic. Or those very convenient (and well received) organizational binders. One minute your lap or table is empty. The next you have a shopping opportunity. Then, in a minute it´s gone again. Or yours if the price is right.

Random surcharges
It took a while to figure out why your bill is always just a little higher than it should be. Well, that´s obviously because you pay a few pesos for bread and cutlery. What´s a meal without those after all?

Hearts vs. Whales (or cows, or bears, or pigs)
While other cities seem to make replicas of mammals and have them decked out, often hideously in the case of Vancouver´s bears or Seattle´s pigs, by local artists to "beautify" the streets, in B.A. they have taken this idea to heart. Literally. Enormous, and very well designed and decorated, the heart campaign puts to shame any other street-art fundraising in the northern hemisphere. They are stunning.

Inside is outside again
It is not uncommon for shopkeepers and restaurateurs to simply hose the place down at the end of the night, or in the middle of the day, or anytime really, shoppers or not. This seems to be the case in many places - where inside is really not much different than out there. Windows? nah.. A roof that keeps out the rain? Why bother...? Hostel del Sol became part of the great outdoors during what was sure to be a not uncommon rainstorm (to us tho - wow!). And what did the proprietors do? They move their chairs back out of the way and fill their mate gourds up and watch it come down.

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