Buenos Aires


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With its 11,000,000 people and international reputation of cultural diversity and sophistication the capital of Argentina was an exciting place to spend a few days before continuing our journey to Uruguay.

We landed at the modern international airport, Ezeiza about 25 miles from downtown. True to Bettina's plan, our "Aldo remises " (taxi) was patiently waiting with his sign as we exited customs and immigrations. After a few words of elementary Spanish to bond our relationship, off we drove to the hotel. It was late when we arrived.

Breakfast was included in the hotel as seems to be the custom nearly everywhere now. Buenos Aires is a fine walking city. It does have a subway system as one would expect of a city of this size. There are a couple of long and wide streets solely for pedestrians - on these are some of the more up-scale shops. Leather wear is everywhere as are the hawkers on the street trying to maneuver you into a particular shop. 

The dollar is very strong here. But, changing currency at the conventional  banks and cambios is a complicated process. The process is long, cumbersome and is designed to employ as many people as possible and of course, to take as long as possible. There are armed guards to guide you to a long line leading to someone with a huge calculator who takes your money and prints out forms in triplicate where you then enter another room with its armed guard where you get in another long line where you finally meet a person who looks at the forms, does more calculations on another 3 pound calculator and then asks for your passport (after you have already given your money to the first person 30 minutes ago.), and of course the passport is back at the hotel in the room safe where it belongs. After giving back the paperwork and retrieving our money we are back on the street where shortly we are approached by a man who informs us that he can beat the cambio rate and to follow him. Judging by his looks, the location and the process we agree and in 20 seconds change the money without passport and for a better rate. It reminded me of our experience with the nearly worthless Russian currency in Moscow where each morning the kitchen help would give us an exchange rate 250% higher than the bank. We begin to wonder if there is a relationship between the true value of a currency and the ceremony surrounding its exchange. Oh well, we remind ourselves that it is really just another piece of the mosaic that makes travel so interesting - so different. We smile .

The food is wonderful, the people are friendly, their dress is very attractive and fashionable. We enjoy visiting the huge parks where many adults and children pass the warm days.

We walk and walk and walk. It is a beautiful city full of drama and commerce.