Here I am – in wintry Buenos Aires. I flew in on Sunday night, came into my little hotel room and felt blah…Now I know I do not want to arrive at night anywhere anymore. Everything just looks so dark and uninviting. Even the airport appeard unfriendly to me – I asked an employee about an ATM and he just pointed me to the direction of an exit. “I am definitely not in Mexico” was my first thought…a Mexican airport employee would drop everything to show me where every ATM at an aiport would be.
But on Monday morning things started looking much better and by the evening there was a siginificant improvement. So, I was reminding myself that the way I see things depends in a big way the way I feel at that particular moment.
Everything is more expensive here than in Mexico City…and I start by comparing such things as ATM fees and taxi rides. These two are at least double of the Mexico City rates. Plus the exchange rate is a tricky thing here – the exact rate is 3.8 pesos for a dollar, but I, of course, divide everything by 4 for convenience and then get very surprised to see the final price in dollars on my credit card bill. But these are just the details.
The whole time here I have been asking myself if I could live here. And after 2 weeks of my stay I think I could but probably would not like to. The city is livable and beautiful, but I feel very much like an outsider. People walk on the streets with very serious faces and everybody seems to be in a big hurry to get somewhere…The cold does not help either…niether do the constant reminders from my colleagues of crime.
Here is an example of my Buenos Aires theater going experience. First, it is important to note that the best theater here – Teatro Colon – is under restauration for an indefinite period of time. Fine. So I can go to another one. For example, Teatro Liceo is one of the oldest and finest. Plus they are showing a wonderful play – “Piaf”…and I just love Piaf. So, I call last week to buy tickets. They tell me – “all are sold out for the week”. I say, “can I buy tickets for the next week then?” “No, you need to call on Friday, this is when the tickets are “released” for the next week”. Okay, so I patiently wait for Friday. On Friday I call again “Can I have two tickets please?”, “Yes”…after about 20 questions, the operator asks me for my Visa card. I say “I have anAmerican Express and a MasterCard”, she says “No ticket for you then”. But I am still hopeful…I run to my colleague who happens to have a Visa and call again. After the same 20 questions, the operator asks me for my Visa…happily I read it out. And then she says “but your visa is not Argentine…no ticket for you”. But, I still did not give up! Tonight I went to the theater ticket box…with cash! And the young man in the booth told me “no ticket for you…all sold out” I want to say this is unbelievable, but it kind of isn’t…