Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina (Come On, You Knew It Was Coming)

Twenty-four hours after setting out for the airport in Buenos Aires, we're back at home in good old, safe New York City.

Travel woes are like bad dreams -- unpleasant to endure, and uninteresting to anyone else after the fact -- so I won't go into detail. Suffice it to say that Aerolineas Argentinas is the worst major airline in the world (as efficient as Amtrak, as friendly as the Teamsters), and that my suitcase came back minus two jerseys and that t-shirt that I was so excited about, all thoughtfully purloined by some a-hole working for the airline/airport, who -- believe me -- had ample time to rifle through unprotected luggage. (The records, I am happy to report, were untouched. Tell the police we're dealing with a real philistine.)

All of this brings us to the bittersweet end to the trip. More bittersweet than even the usual dawning of reality at the end of vacation -- waking up to an alarm, going back to work, not eating steak twice a day.

Ultimately, I judge a city by whether I'd ever want to live there. And for Buenos Aires, I thought the answer was yes. The hustle and bustle of a metropolis, culture, an abundance of parks, cheap real estate, a politically minded populace, steak twice a day. And the people were exceedingly friendly when they weren't trying to screw you. It's not fair to indict an entire country on the basis of one avoidable theft (I should've had my suitcase "Saran-wrapped" like so many of the other travelers), but that's the thing -- it wasn't just the one bad experience. It was the cab driver who we later learned went way out of the way to get an extra three pesos off us (all the while engaging in the most pleasant banter), or the one who helped himself to the change from our flat-rate fare to the airport. It's not even about the money, either. It's just... what kind of city (world) is it where a person feels like he has to take advantage of his fellow man at every opportunity?

That said, I can't claim I wasn't warned. Everybody told us to watch out. Which makes me feel like a rube. Like I should know better than to think that people are as kind and honest as I think they are, or as I am used to in New York (dig that, New York as the model for kindness!).

But I guess as humans are deeply flawed, they're bound to disappoint us. The wise traveler just gives the screwgies fewer opportunities to disappoint him.

I'm thinking this would be a good time to tuck into that jar of dulce de leche that we brought home, and the ice cream that's sitting in the freezer.

[Five minutes later...]

Mmm. Indeed!

Here are some random pics from the many/mostly high points of the trip:

The city's famous obelisk at the center of the world's widest avenue.

You'd look worried, too, if you were biting into candy that's made from egg yolk and sugar. Totally tasty, but literally the worst possible thing you can put in your body.

Yvonne rides the A train (and Dad takes a picture). Note the wooden benches and doors and old timey straps for standing passengers to hold onto.

What a joik!

The whole lot of us. Adios, Buenos Aires. Suerte!


David and Monica said...

Are you having beef withdrawl yet? It's also a little difficult finding a decent ice cream joint at 4:00 when you're looking for one. I guess it's time to get away from the ice cream and lomo and go back to our "real" lives.

Much fun had by one and all.

Peter said...

I had items stolen from my suitcase when I went to Mexico. They even took a pack of underwear(unused). Glad you had a good time.