We left Vancouver, on the left coast of Canada, before the end of September to spend three months in the Yukon, at sixty-four degrees north and, for the better part of one week, minus forty-eight degrees Celsius. January 2nd found us living in a sub-tropical city of fourteen million where the Humidex temperature hit plus forty-eight one day later that month.
After almost three months in the Argentine capital, a certain clarity has developed around a few things. Useful research this stuff:
1. Not all taxi drivers in Buenos Aires are bad, or crazy or possessed. Only some. In fact the taxi system has greatly improved over the past few years. Today, you are far less likely to be driven around aimlessly while the meter ticks at your expense. Thanks to efforts by the City Government drivers are now more accountable and responsible. Many taxis have GPS devices which are helpful in the unlikely event your driver doesn't know where you are going (and you don't either so that doesn't help). Most drivers are polite, even affable. It's true, some are daredevils delighting in hearing gasps from their passengers, but only one or two we rode with had anything approaching a suicidal death wish. Don't believe all you read in the guidebooks: taxis in Buenos Aires are safe and fun (fingers crossed and close your eyes).
2. Buenos Aires is not the scary place it is sometimes made out to be in guide books and on the interweb. The city doesn't change radically when the sun goes down. In fact that's when most portenos go out to eat! We wandered the streets of BA late at night and into the early morning hours from our very first days here, and always with little concern, if any. Common sense is a good plan, like not flashing a wad of money at a street corner for example, or speaking loudly American style everywhere you go. I read one article on the web that suggested avoiding the parks of Palermo after sunset. Unless you're actually looking for trouble, nothing could be more removed from reality. Many guide books and websites think everybody visiting Argentina is staying at a Sheraton or a Hilton, and many do of course. But if you can't manage without having USA Today with your bacon and eggs every morning, and asking loudly "How much is that in US dollars?" and if you really need CNN or Fox News on the television twenty-four hours a day, then yes, maybe you should stay in at night. Or stay home.
4. Coffee here is wonderful. Not necessarily at the chain stores like Starbucks (there are a few unfortunately) and the local brands like Martinez (a Starbucks knock-off) and Havanna (which features chocolate confections too and is the best of the chains), but at the neighbourhood cafes that still populate many streets with their own personality and their attending characters (hey, at Esquina Sinclair, Jeem was one of the local characters!). These are great places to get to know a neighbourhood, and to practice your Spanish. Sit. Enjoy. Relax.
5. Crows and gulls do not appear to exist at this latitude, or at least not in Buenos Aires. We should all be grateful. With the garbage piling up on the street corners everyday, crows and gulls are not what this city needs.
If you didn't see the first What we know so far from early in our BA adventure,
you can follow this link: