Friday, February 1, 2013


Life in the big city is very loud and dirty. We found a great deal on an apartment in the city with the help of the guys at the BMW shop. When we showed up to get the keys, sounds of jackhammers on concrete filled the air. The street signals beeped for blind people to cross, loud enough for a deaf person to hear. Car horns honked so frequently that the jackhammer was hard to pick out of the cacophony. We started to realize that life was going to be different for a week or so. When we first made it back from the Atlantic coastline we decided to try to exchange some extra Chilean currency for Argentine pesos and we were told that it was possible to do so at the airport. After some waiting in line I discovered that you have to have a flight boarding pass to do it there and we would have to head into town to get it done. So we went to Florida street, and searched for a place that would take the Chilean money. We had an excess of this currency because for some reason the ATM in Chile decided to give me about $2000usd in one shot! I usually just take the maximum that the ATM will allow when we get into a new country and rely on my bank to set the limit of what I can get in one transaction. This has worked for quite a while, but this time it didn't happen. The money exchange scene on Florida street is just guys standing in the street yelling, cambio, and their primary purpose is to buy USDollars. I had to ask about 5 people before one of them agreed to help, all the while involuntarily alerting the money exchange population along the street I had to walk down once finished, that I was about to have a large amount of money in my pocket on the way back... He led me to an unmarked doorway and into a small 2 man elevator. We got out a few floors up and walked down a silent hallway lined with unmarked doors, like something out of willy wonka. I prepared for the worst, but when he rang the bell and the door opened, I was let into a small room with a bullet proof window and lots of large men on the other side, siting on couches drinking mate. I figured my chances of getting out of there with what I came in with we're pretty low as the tide had just swung in their favor. I figured I could take the little guy who had led me in and a couple of them out, but I wasn't sure I had it in me to take all six. I counted out my 2k worth of Chilean pesos and handed it through the window after which the guy disappeared. I figured the money was gone, but then, when he showed up with stacks of small argentine bills I was relieved. I ended up getting an excellent rate and even made a little money! Boy did I walk fast, back to the bike where my dad was waiting for me, with that wad of bills in my pocket! The stress of that situation was enough to make we want to get out of my motorcycle gear and cool off. The rest of the day we stocked up on groceries and got settled into the apartment. Upon paying for the place we found out that the transactions for things like apartments and cars are quoted in USD, which you can't get in BA, so when you go to pay with pesos you get a crappy exchange rate and they make some extra cash. The next day we walked the city a bit and saw the big flower, which is broken by the way. It no longer opens and closes, due to an assembly mistake. The repair is uncertain. Then we thought we would hit the Japanese garden and restaurant and the garden is in shambles and the restaurant is closed. Two strikes down, we decided to just walk the neighborhood for a while and had a nice time with that. Discovered some fun nightlife for when the girls get in and some good restaurants as well. We tried to go to the movies and encountered strike 3 as the line was 30 minutes long causing us to miss our movie and when we made it to the cashier we found out that it was sold out anyway. I think we will stick to sidewalk cafes and nightlife for the next few days.

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