Saturday, 24 July 2004

lesser profound observations of argentina

we recently returned from a vacation in argentina and brazil. both are excellent destinations for south africans looking for some value for money. the current exchange rates mean you basically save money by going there (at the time of writing of course - it is the rand i'm talking about).

i will share some observations from the trip which i thought might be interesting, if only because they are mundane and don't aspire to initiate a new post-capitalist global consensus.

observation number one
in argentine cities, the locals accept flyers handed out to them in the street. most argentines would then scan them and trash them, but they actually show interest. for a south african hard-wired to ignore any solicitation, pamphlet or person asking the time, this came as a revelation. of course, rebel that i am, it turned into a cautious experiment which quickly became a eager, wild-eyed grabbing of any flat, foldable object pointed in my general direction. i started building up collections, became interested in guitar lessons, gained insight into leatherware and almost bought a computer. the gay abandon stopped abrubtly when a man approached me, saying something as he held out a small laminated card with the picture of a saint. i grabbed hold of it, saying "gra├žias" in my best spanish, but he held on, mumbling, fear forming in his eyes as he realised this was a tourist, and not a spanish-speaking one at that. we tugged at the card a bit, eyes locking, him mumbling, until he started to repeat "uno peso uno peso."

well, of course i wasn't going to pay for my little piece of paper. so i let go. only later did i realise i was never offered all the pamphlets available on street. i missed out on discount medicines and tax assistance, but received all possible invitations to tango shows and asadas. there was a shrewd screening process going on, and my poor friend of earlier was possibly just new to the job.

ok, so maybe just one observation. for now.


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