Wednesday, January 18, 2006


We get to Buenos Aires

We left Alaska on a cold (-20F) dark, snowy morning and 24 hours later we arrived in Buenos Aires at +30C (85F). The visa was accepted without any issues and the customs process went smoothly enough, and we were funnelled into the guantlet at the exit into the general airport. Several flights had landed all at once, so both sides of the guantlet were packed with people hollering and calling out to each other (in spanish, of course).

If Argentines have to line up for any reason, they actually tend to do it submissively. But if there is no rule about a line, everyone pushes to the front, forming a mob. Same on the highways. In the US, drivers are expected to stay within the lane they're driving in, unless there's a legitmate passing opportunity. Argentine drivers will take any opportunity to pass, even when there is no passing lane; they'll slip around on the shoulder. They'll even swing out into the oncoming lane long enough to scream by and then dive back just in time. What's weirdest, though, is what happens at stoplights. If there's four legitimate driving lanes, you'd expect two cars in each direction. In Argentina, people will ease up around the outside and inside lanes and form a solid wall at the front - sometimes five cars across. When the light changes, you have to be careful not to run the red from the cross streets, or you'll get run over in their race to be the front car in the lane after the light.

Argentine drivers hang a medal or cross - specifically blessed by their priests, no less - from their rear view mirrors, so god will protect them from their insane driving habits. This is coupled with an interesting fatalism. If a friend or acquaintance is killed in a car wreck, their response is to dismiss it as god's will - with no consideration whatsover that it might have been preventable if the person or anyone else for that matter had worn seatbelts, used their headlights on the remote highways at night while screaming along at 140 kph, or just driven a little bit more responsibly.

If you drove defensively in Argentina, you'd have to drive in reverse to avoid all the close calls. I learned to watch out for the situations in all directions. I became an extremely alert and attentive driver, I developed a set of eyes in the back of my head, and could work my way through town as good as the best (worst) of them. On occasion, I even found myself playing the greenlight game.

We didn't know the person who was meeting us at the airport. After weaving our way through the mob of people blocking the narrow exit, we saw a guy holding a small sign with our name on it. He had already singled us out as the "janquis" he was there to meet. Nice guy, warm smile, friendly. Turns out this was my new Brand X boss - pretty much as I'd expected after talking on the phone with him several times in the previous two months.

He grabbed our bags and herded us past the shouting remise drivers, taxi driver, bus company shills, and anyone else hoping to make a peso off of us, and guided us out to his car along with a remise he'd hired to carry the baggage.

I played from the Suzuki book and CD again today. Same repertoire as yesterday. A little improvement, both in what I heard and what I played. I bought some headphones today, they sound much better than the tinny speakers on this computer.

Now for some fun:


Crack Found on Governor's Daughter
[Imagine that!]

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
[No, really?]

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
[Now that's taking things a bit far!]

Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
[Not if I wipe thoroughly!]

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
[What a guy!]

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
[No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-sos!]

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
[See if that works any better than a fair trial!]

War Dims Hope for Peace
[I can see where it might have that effect!]

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
[You think?!]

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
[Who would have thought!]

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
[They may be on to something!]

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
[You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?!]

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
[Weren't they fat enough?!]

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
[That's what he gets for eating those beans!]

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
[Taste like chicken?]

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
[Chainsaw Massacre all over again!]

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
[Boy, are they tall!] And the winner is....

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
[Did I read that sign right?]

Thanks Bob
posted by M. North on

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