December 14, 2006

Reading, Routers, and Rallies
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Another day of interesting encounters.

Tone

There's a small twice-monthly newspaper here called the The Argentimes, that had a travel article written in it that caught my eye. Entitled, Buses in Central America, the piece describes a female's chicken bus experiences in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Not I'm not sure if she's Argentinean or not, but the tone of the article read like it. The buses in this country (and on this continent in general) are amazingly luxurious compared to that of Central America. On-board bathrooms that actually function, meals, televisions, reclining seats, wine and champagne service at midnight—Argentina. Rusting holes in the floor, standing room only, hard plastic brown seats without legroom, no air conditioning, and fried foods shoved through the windows of a retired BlueBird school bus from the United States circa 1960—Central America.

I guess I mention the article because of the tone that I felt when reading it—stuck-up (snobby)—like Mariana had gone slumming three years ago and lived to tell about it.

Personally, I've got nothing but love for the Central America chicken buses. Riding in them always felt like I was a kid on a school field trip again.

Working Hours

OK U.S. embassy, what's the deal with your hours? I'm only allowed to speak with an American Citizen Services representative between the hours of 8:30 and noon? 3.5 Hours per day—that's it?

(shaking head)

I just need some pages for my full passport.

And Behind Door #3…

On a less bitchy note, one of the craziest things I've seen happened yesterday in my hostel.

In the lobby of The Clan there's a door next to a trio of computers. I had never paid this much mind, as there are doors all over this hostel that don't function (typically rooms have been expanded in old buildings like this, leaving two doors for a single room). Walking back from my shower I see that it's ajar—a bright room, painted white.

White and well lit are two things that you don't find in places like this, so I curiously popped my head in. My jaw dropped as I felt a wave of air conditioning pour over me.

Slightly in awe of what I was seeing, I stuck more of my still damp body out of the hot and humid hostel and into the room—the contents of which had no worldly business being in this building.

Nextel relay room

Twin A/C units frosted my skin—designed to keep the racks of computer and networking equipment (towering above me) cool. A technician was working out of sight, behind a wall of rack-mounted servers.

Now, let me tell you how frickin' weird this was. It was like opening up a door in your house and stepping into the cockpit of a space shuttle. Like discovering someone living inside your closet (Real Genius) or something like the scene in The Matrix Reloaded when Neo jumps from a crummy building into the white room of the Architect.

This was the wardrobe from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A different world.

I got dressed and chatted with the technician for a while. He was working on one of the A/C units, and said the room was for the cellular company Nextel—the equipment was routing calls received by hardware mounted on the roof.

Staff here at the hostel tell me they rent the building, but Nextel rents that particular room out. It's been so hot and humid here, I wish I had keys to go chill in that server room whenever I wanted… crazy.

Feline Garden of Eden

I stopped by the Botanical Garden on my way back from the embassy. The garden wasn't much to see, but my Lord, the number of cats was amazing!

Droves of them, some by themselves, others in packs—lounging, chasing butterflies, sleeping in the sun, under a bench, or in an abandoned car on the street. It was like a cat sanctuary.

I get along great with cats, and wonder sometimes if they can sense parts of my cat-like personality. Maybe I was a cat in a past life—might explain some things.

Revolution!!

Rally

No, not really. But topping out the list for crazy stuff to see on a Wednesday included the wave of protesters marching on the Pink House (Argentina's equivalent of the White House), just before dusk.

I was wondering why the police kept the majority of an emplacement of riot gates in the plaza outside governmental building intact, even when there wasn't a protest—but I suppose these things have a tendency to come out of no where in this city.

Masked car blockers

Several hundred people marched down the street with banners, flags, drums, and spray paint. One individual was setting off concussion explosives that exploded so loudly it felt like a SWAT team was throwing flashbangs at your feet.

The most radical thing of the protest were the men and boys with metal pipes and wooden clubs, running around stopping traffic—threatening to use them on the cars that didn't halt immediately. Faces cloaked like Middle-Eastern extremists, I put on my don't start shit with me face when I was around them. I have no idea what the demeanor of these people are (when all worked up).

An interesting day.

Comments:

Aldona

December 15th, 2006

Hello,

I completely agree with you about chicken buses in Central America, they are an experience bu themselves even for those who are not from the USA and did not have school excursions in them.

As for administration opening hours, you will be surprised when you come to France. Many are open from 8 to 4pm and at 3.30 there is nobody left as you will understand that they have to drink one last coffee before going back home. As far as most embassies and consulates are concerned, they are obviously open till noon.

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