Monday, July 28, 2008

The Haunting of Paros

Why is it that Jackson and I are being followed by paros?! We both thought that our days of being caught in strikes were long behind us. After the strike we experienced in Cusco that forced us to stay an extra two days and experience hunger pain, we thought we would never again have to be the innocent bystanders that are forcibly affected by a paro. I guess we were wrong.

What started off as the end to another nice touristy day, ended up being a very long walk down a sketchy street. Avenida Corrientes is not sketchy during the day or even during late night hours. For 15 blocks or so, the street is filled with people wandering into bookstores and in line for night showings at the theater. But after the blocks of open stores and theaters end, you're left with closed vendors, making the street some what sketchy at 11pm. Walking down this street and walking over 25 blocks home wasn't by choice, though. We knew our route home. We were going to take the SubT, jump on line C, switch to line B and get off at Avenida Medrano. Little did we know that the SubT and collectivos (buses) started a strike at 9pm, right when we were eating are way through a vegetable souffle. Of course when we found the gates to every SubT station closed (this was around 10pm), we had no idea about a paro. I simply thought it was ridiculous that the city of Buenos Aires had such an early time to stop trains from running. And at this moment, I missed Chicago. As Jackson and I were walking down the streets, I was having a mental conversation with myself. "When has the CTA ever closed because it was passed hours?! Never!!! Sure, the CTA sucks and is always under construction but at least it runs ALL day. At least, there are options. If one station is closed, there's always another one. But in Buenos Aires, what do people do? How do they go home..SAFE? This is stupid!! Why are SubTs closed?!" I know, this is very childish and judgmental. However, I was extremely tired from walking around Puerto Madero all day (I'll talk about this later). Plus, I was NOT looking forward to walking home all the way from downtown Buenos Aires. I know this isn't an excuse but at the time my PMSing mind thought it was. When we finally got home, I saw on the news that the SubT and the collectivo strike started at 9pm. Reason being, bus and train drivers were protesting for their safety, after a 44 year old man was stabbed to death by a passenger. Okay, the news made me shut my trap and take back my thoughts of the city's transportation system but let me just say that only in South American will strikes like this happen. In some ways, it's refreshing.

As for the earlier part of my day, Ines, Damian, Jackson and I drove to Puerto Madero, one of the most priciest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. We saw tall, modern buildings, hotels like the Hilton, restaurants, and shops all of which cost an arm and a leg. Among the restaurants we saw were TGIFridays and Hooters for a moment it felt like Chicago. This, however, is definitely one aspect of American culture we try to avoid which we did by moving right along the boardwalk. In all, Puerto Madero reminded me a little of Navy Pier with its docks and boats. For a cloudy, Sunday afternoon, Jackson and I did rather well from boardwalks to bridges to a piece of American culture to yummy vegetarian food to experiencing yet another paro.

Navy Pier? Pirate ship? No, a ship docked at Puerto Madero.

La Puente de las Mujers. As Jackson pointed out, this bridge looks like a sharks fin.

My cousin so cleverly avoided the TGIFridays in the background. Way to go Ines!!

Crossing La Puente de las Mujers.

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