12 October 2013

Day 13--Wrapup

It was a totally uneventful flight back to the US, watching many movies and eating United Airlines' "delicious" "food"...

Just some final thoughts about our two weeks in Argentina...

Traffic...
I made the right call to not rent a car...traffic in Buenos Aries is chaotic but somehow has a bit of order to it.  The major streets have lane markers and stoplights that are frequently observed, but the horn is used much more than the steering wheel.  The stoplights have an alert that a green light is coming up, which pretty much signals to the locals to go ahead and go, even though the traffic in the other direction doesn't yet have a Red light.  Most other streets in the city are one-way and have NO stop signs or stop lights at intersections.  I do not understand how we didn't see more accidents, but the general protocol is to take your foot off the gas as you approach the intersection, and once you can see the other street, if you are closer to the intersection and/or bigger than the other car, you gun it, and otherwise you lightly step on the brake and swerve around the other cars.  We did see one fender-bender, but neither car bothered to stop; they just continued on their way.  In Salta, the cars were much older, with quite a few Peugeots and Volkswagens from the 50s on the road, and Fiats of every size, shape and color were around, owing again to the Italian connection.

On our way to the airport, we were in orderly lines (surprisingly) to get through a toll gate when the cars started honking en masse.  Our driver told us that once the wait to get through the toll booth is more than three minutes, they are required by law to just lift all the tollgates and let all the cars through, toll free, so as soon as the lines get 3 or 4 cars deep, everyone just starts honking.  Why not?  Its's cheaper than paying the toll...

Kids...
In BsAs, we saw quite a few gaggles of schoolkids walking around, many out doing art projects at the various gardens and parks around the city, and instead of uniforms, most of the kids wear white lab coats, making them all look like precocious nurses and doctors wandering around the city...it was very cute.

The Country...
We made a good call to see three very different facets of the country.  Buenos Aires was the cosmopolitan metropolis, Iguazu was the quiet touristy natural wonder, and the Salta area was the bucolic setting of authentic rural Argentina.  BsAs and Salta provided endlessly delicious food while Iguazu and Salta yielded amazing vistas and friendly faces................................

Safety...
Argentina is a stable country that is safe, but as with most big cities, there can be trouble spots.  We got a lot of advice to be extra careful in BsAs, but fortunately, didn't have any issues at all anywhere we traveled, even on the buses, metros, etc.  Warnings about camera snatching and pickpocketing were plentiful, but we took precautions and luckily had no problems.  I'm sure we looked pretty touristy, but I'm not sure if we were just lucky, or if all the warnings are a bit overdone.

Language...
The Spanish of Argentina is not the Spanish taught here in the US...there seem to be three major differences that I never got the hang of.

The biggest difference I had trouble with is the sound that 'll' makes in words like calle or amarillo.  When I learned Spanish, the ll sounded like a y, so that amarillo sounds like ah-mah-ree-yo.  When I was in Puerto Rico earlier this year, the ll sounds more like a 'j' (ah-mah-ree-joe), and now in Buenos Aires, you get more of a 'zh' sound, which ends up as (ah-mar-ree-zho) which shows some of the Italian influence.

The second big difference is that the second person singular pronoun is not tu in Argentina, but instead is vos, and verbs are conjugated slightly differently.  I never once remembered to change the pronoun, but fortunately in Spanish, you often leave off the pronoun altogether and just change the verb ending.  It's likely why I accused one poor woman of not speaking Spanish well when I was trying to explain that I didn't speak Spanish well.