The Moneygram soap drama - getting access to the money thankfully sent to us from London - ended at 13:30 today - on the second day of trying. The first bank that we went to this morning (with old-school grey haired staff) said, nicely, that they only dealt with people from Argentina. I wasn’t impressed and told the bloke so, with an added head-shake of course. The next office we chose to visit (we’d been tipped-off that they might speak English) was in the bus terminal, and a good 2 mile walk away. After walking around the whole, massive, terminal twice, and with some help from a nice lady, we eventually found the office, hidden in the basement. The Moneygram website will tell you that all you need to produce is your passport and complete a simple form, and job done - you’ll receive the dosh. Bollocks. We had to provide;
-Proof of where we were staying -A utlity bill for this property!
-Name and phone number of two friends.. yes, as tourists you’re meant to have local friends!
-And complete\sign so many forms that I lost count.
So, there you go - if you want to waste a day and a half, send money via the Post Office and Moneygram. Useless. On the positive side, we made a few extra quids by getting the ‘grey/blue’ market exchange rate for our USDs, and not the mainstream, high street rate used by the big banks :) … This should make things a wee bit cheaper.
Not sure why I bothered to get a SIM. The Movistar 3G coverage/speed is woeful. Have yet to see anyone using an iPhone. It’s more weirdness - it’s a fully developed City, and there’s wealth here, but there also isn’t, or perhaps the supply isn’t there, and when it is, the phones are just far too expensive? This seems to be the case with cameras, so perhaps it’s the same with phones?
The street vendors are interesting - one bloke was sitting on a street corner in the main business/City area and just had a box of small minion soft toys to sell. On the subway we’ve seen two vendors, who, as the train is moving, walk through the carriage and place or balance their small packets of tissues or sweets on people’s legs, laps, or bags, then give a small speech, and then walk back through the carriage, before arriving at the next station, to either get the money for the item, or the stuff back. Not sure why the passengers tolerate it, and let the sellers put stuff on their persons?
Shop names of the day - shoe shop called 'Bum Bum’.. yes, seriously! And, a supermarket chain called 'Disco’.
Italian food is very popular here - it’s everywhere. Cool job of the day - the pizza delivery bloke on the main road, doing his delivery on rollerblades.
Had brilliant food for both lunch and dinner. Lunch was a lucky dip again. We thought that we were going to get some BBQ meat and veg and a plate of lentils and potato, or at least that’s what Google Translate implied would arrive. What turned up was; grilled fish with pumpkin and mashed potato, and pork chops also with mash. Both were really great, and cheap. Love the old school, local restaurant. Dinner was a potato tortilla with salad.. very good again. The salad was made great by the addition of Argentinian olive oil, from the Mendoza region. Best I’ve tasted in a long time. Will need to try to buy some.
A trend we’ve noticed in restaurants - they are extremely slow in giving you your change when paying the bill, obviously hoping that you’re just going to leave. It happens pretty much everywhere, except our old local place. The Cubans would be proud of this tactic.
We walked to MALBA this evening - 'The Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires’ .. we thought it would take around half an hour to get there, but it turned out to be miles and miles and miles away, with no subway nearby - and took at least an hour. The highlight of the visit was seeing Polesello Joven’s exhibition. We had the three or four mile walk back home of course. At least it wasn’t too cold today - if this is the coldest month of the Argentinian winter, and this is their equivalent of the UK’s January, then they’re really bloody lucky. We saw a small restaurant absolutely packed at 21:05 and everyone tucking into their steaks. At 9pm!
Didn’t drink any bevvy today - only espressos. They don’t seem to do Americanos here, only the short, hard, and very tasty, stuff.
It seems that I might have reached the point in the year where I’m really appreciating how things are in the UK, and how good life really is there; the lack of scamming, no dog crap on the pavement, the lack of OTT bureaucracy, the helpfulness and 'can do’ attitude of businesses (even to non-Brits), the respectful formality of doing business, the lack of pollution, democracy, the safety, the decent shops and supermarkets (with generally decent prices), the wide choice and variety, free museums, and the general friendliness. Oh, and Scotland and its unquestionable beauty (and chippies!). It’s just a shame that the UK’s high streets have been homogenised to hell and back, with Costa Coffee, Tesco, Boots and all their bland, boring brothers having taken over, and that small family-run businesses aren’t supported in any way. So far we’ve seen small independent shops and businesses everywhere else in the world that we’ve been to. I like them, a lot.