Buenos Aires' claim to fame is Avenue 9 de Julio, running through the heart of the city. Sixteen lanes, with four more on each side to accommodate traffic moving on and off, substantiate the city's claim to the world's widest boulevard.
Many of the streets running along the river are lined with parks. Lacking a formal beach, city dwellers use them to sun their buns on beach blankets, ignoring the nearby traffic.
The suburbs of Recolleta and Palermo are quiet high-rise condo communities. Tree-lined streets are shaded and cool.
After three days in Buenos Aires, you should, like a proper tourist, leave. After that you start to notice that the cracked sidewalks are covered with dog-poop, window air-conditioners drip condensation from above in a steady rain, diesel busses and trucks are intent on gassing every living thing, the streets are so noisy you can't talk to the person walking next to you, and waiters would rather chat among themselves than serve those who are forced to endure all of the above until 8:00 PM, when the first restaurant opens for dinner.
Don't even think about trying to learn Spanish in Bs As. The dialect used around the city is unlike anything we heard anywhere else in Central or South America. Calle is pronounced "cay-shay". Cinco de Mayo is "Cinco de mah-show".
Sunday, November 21st
The San Telmo antique flea-market covers a one city-block park and opens every Sunday, offering really old stuff for sale. Dancers in the center of the park demonstrate the Tango to the tourists, in exchange for donations.
Wednesday, November 24th
My American Legion Yacht Club card got us into Yacht Club Argentino for lunch. A neck-tie was required to enter the restaurant, so they loaned me one. This is a first-class operation; bums must look respectable before entering. After lunch, we visited with crew members from the Challenge 72 fleet in town for the first stop in their around-the world race.
Thursday, November 25th
One of the automobile dealers we "interviewed" suggested we visit the American Embassy as the first necessary step in selling our car in Argentina. It wasn't obvious to us why any American facility would be involved in Argentine affairs, but we made an appearance at 8:00 AM sharp, as they suggested. The guard, behind a reinforced-glass window, informed us that the Embassy was closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We protested, saying that we were really in Argentina. "Right you are," he answered, "and on my side of the window, I'm in America, where we celebrate Thanksgiving. Come back tomorrow." We reappeared the next morning and entered, first in line. The clerk didn't call our number until 8:45, so we cooled our heels, hopeful that a solution was at hand. The clerk soon returned with a list of lawyers we could call on to aid our quest, which was, as she explained, not going to happen unless we became Argentine citizens, a two-year process.
At 10:00 AM, we were outside, standing on the sidewalk, somewhat behind the position we were in the day before, having taken one step forward and two steps back.
We attempted to forget the issues of the day at the Tango dinner-show at the Querandi Restaurant, fully booked with French and German tour groups.
Friday, November 26th
I was invited to dinner at Radio Club Argentino, hosted by Ernesto Syriani, LU8AE. I was introduced to the members and given a tour of their club station, LU4AA.
Saturday, November 27th
We took a taxi to the station for Tren de la Costa, a tourist train if there ever was one, going to Tigre for a boat ride around the Delta del Parana, north of Bs As. Connected to the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver), the delta waters are the same unappealing brown color. Homes along the shoreline, some nice and well-tended and others little more than shacks, are served solely by boats, which roar through the narrow channels at any speed they choose, regardless of the wake they leave or the noise they create.
Monday, November 29th
After two weeks in Buenos Aires, we finally came to grips with the grim reality that the Jeep couldn't be sold legally in Argentina, without becoming a resident, a two-year process. Without valid Argentine license plates, the car could be sold illegally, but not without incurring unending liability for any shenanigans the new owner might get into. Shipping the car to Los Angeles would cost $5,500 and Miami wasn't much better at $3,500, so we settled on Hamburg, Germany, for $2,000. There it could be imported legally, registered, and sold.
Tuesday, November 30th
Knowing that the Jeep would eventually be sold, we took it back to the Trotter's service shop to get a quote on a new front window. The baseball-sized circular ding from the rock in Chile, originally nearly hidden behind the rear-view mirror, had spread runners half-way across the window in both directions. They offered to replace it for $200 (US dollars) which we figured was less than half what it would cost in the States. They wanted over $500 US for a single new fog lamp to replace one which lost it's lens along one of Patagonia's gravel roads, so we opted for the window and declined on the lamp.
Sunday, December 5th
We finally worked in a city-tour, which took us through neighborhoods which had long become familiar, but introduced us to Caminito Street in the Boca area. We eventually returned to this area of arts and crafts, as well as a broad selection of useless items destined to become souvenirs, to have lunch and wander among the artists stalls.
Monday, December 6th
Transportation of the Jeep out of Argentina almost became a Catch-22 situation. Since we wanted to stay in Brasil long after the car arrived in Germany, obtaining a container for the Jeep was ruled out, as storage at the shipping end was unavailable and storage costs at the destination would have been astronomical. We opted for a roll-on, roll-off delivery, where someone would drive the car onto the boat in Bs As and another person would drive it off at the Hamburg end. But this meant that our luggage couldn't stay in the car. Well, it could, but there was no way to guarantee it would ever be seen again; the auto delivery was no more than stated, an auto delivery, not a baggage service. Now we needed another set of customs papers and a different boat for the delivery of a pallet of luggage. Fortunately, we found Jose Cullare to handle Customs and Gerardo Kalman to handle the shipping aspects of the situation. Others told us how simple it would be and how much experience they had with this sort of operation, but talk is cheap and they didn't deliver.
Tuesday, December 7th
Our stay in Buenos Aires involved at least one hundred cab rides, as we avoid using our own car after we arrive in a big city. Fares were cheap, starting with a flag-fall of less than US50 cents, and cross town trips were no more than US$5.00. Every cab driver was helpful and courteous, a tribute to the city. The white lines painted on the streets, intended to mark lanes, serve as a guide for where the middle of your taxi should be. Straddling the line allows the driver to claim whichever lane starts to move faster.
Californians, expecting absolute rights over any moving vehicle, whether they are in a cross-walk or not, should note that stepping in front of a car is putting your life in a stranger's hands. Drivers will honk at you, but have no intention of slowing. Busses are even more aggressive and will not honk or slow down.
Friday, December 10th
Picked up the Jeep. The new windshield was perfect. What surprised me most was the two new fog lamps, each with a plastic cover to protect the lens. With a single lamp costing $500, what would this un-requested repair cost? "No charge for the lamps," said their service manager. Would that happen in the States? I doubt it. Take your Jeep to Trotters Servicio on Avenida Libertador in Vicente Lopez, Buenos Aires. Recommended.