Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spring and the traffic system

As you´ve all noticed, the blogs have been coming at a much slower rater lately. As I continally say, I´ve quit being a traveler in the city, and I´ve started becoming a citizen. I´m no longer amazed by the weekly protests by unions, student groups, teachers, inmigrants, etc. It´s just the same old same old. I still enjoy the sight of a huge group of citizens marching down main streets with flags and drums, and I still jump whenever they launch M80 fireworks into the air, but now it´s normal. I just keep on doing what I´m doing.

The weather has really taken a turn for the better lately. Spring came about nice and slowly, the days slowly got warmer and the sun started to stay out a bit longer. However, from one week to the next, it became summer. It´s just a heat wave, they say, but it has gotten REALLY hot and humid down here. 85 degree days and blue skies are what I´m waking up to every morning. I think it must be cloudy once every two weeks here. However, with the heat and humidity, comes the increase in air density. All the pollution in the city hangs a lot lower in the air, and I can definitely see significant increases in the smog levels, etc. I´ve never had allergies before, but i´m pretty sure all the smog has given me a consistent runny nose.

School is coming to a close. All in all, it has been a good experience, but I really enjoy the US school system a lot more. It´s much more organized and rigourous, and you know what you´re supposed to learn. Here, classes don´t always have a very defined structure, and you just kind of listen to what the professor says, and hope you can remember it when you have your test. Speaking of tests, almost all of my classes have just one, oral, final exam. We sit down with the professor and we tell them what we know. They decide if we pass or not. It´s pretty intimidating, especially when students have up to three chances to pass the final with the professor. I know I´ll get through them decently, but it´s definitely more relaxing to have a USA-style final exam, and know exactly what kind of grade you need to pass the class. It´s just another one of those efficiency things. I love living here, but efficiency just doesn´t exist. Lines in super markets can last 45 minutes, and no one seems to take notice. Any US citizen here IMMEDIATELY learns the times when you can go to the super market and not spend an ungodly amount of time waiting. Whatever people say, we have efficiency and working rules in the USA, and I miss it.

Speaking of these rules, I´ll give you a little taste. Throughout the entire city of Buenos Aires, you might be able to count a handful of stopsigns. If the street isnt a main thoroughfare(which has a stoplight), there is no way to metering traffic. Cars, at night time, will drive towards unprotected intersections, flash their lights(because they don´t find it necessary to use headlights) and bomb through the intersection. They expect the other cars to stop. If two cars meet at the same time, they both creep along until someone gives some gas, and goes. You can ALWAYS here tires screeching on the pavement because someone expected the other guy to stop. It the heart of downtown, in probably the most congested are of the city, there are no stop signs. Cars, buses, and motorbikes beep and honk their way through the traffic. The simple placement of two stopsigns at every intersection would make like ridiculously more easy. However, they wouldn´t respect the sign. Red lights don´t really matter if its nighttime, and cops are too busy cat-calling girls to pull people over for breaking traffic laws. If you get a traffic ticket, you either bribe your way out of it, or, after you get it, you drive away and throw it out the window. There is no way of enforcing the rules, so no one gives a shit.

That´s my only real rant about Buenos Aires. The system of transportation monitoring is absolutely horrible, but people have gotten used to car accidents being a common thing. Stop signs, simple metal objects that could change the entire way this city drives. Motorbikes fly between cars, and no one follows the speed limit. If teh cops started busting people like they do in the states, or had speed traps, and actually ENFORCED the fines, maybe take away driving privledges for months at a time, this city could really turn itself around.

Hope you enjoyed that little gem. I´ll write more on the positive side sometime soon...maybe tonight.

patrick


Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

1 comment:

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Susan

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