A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things ...

as i'm sure you've noticed, sometimes i like to get my kvetch on.  but i love buenos aires, despite any complaining i might do.  so i'd like to highlight some things that i think are really cool ...

1.  free bikes
bike kiosk at plaza italia
several months ago, the city of buenos aires created a free bike borrowing program.  all you need to do is bring a passport or DNI card and proof of your address (bill, bank statement, etc) ... you wait on one line where they quickly set up an account for you, taking a picture of you for their files, and showing you how to create a PIN.  then you go to the other line where you can use your PIN to sign in and you are given a bike with basket, helmet, and lock!  you're only allowed to use the bike for 2 hours, which kinda sucks, and the weekend hours are limited.  however, there are bike kiosks all over the city, so if you wanted to ride to work, you could drop your bike off when you get there and then pick up a different one when you're ready to ride home.  it's definitely a good start, and if people continue to use the program maybe they will expand the hours.  in general, although the traffic is a little scary, buenos aires is quickly becoming a decent city to bike around.  in the short time i've been here they've massively increased the number of bike lanes throughout the city.  now all they have to do is get cars to stop parking in them.

2.  free cultural events
call me a socialist, but i love free stuff provided by the government.  the city of buenos aires provides extensive free cultural activities throughout the summer (and the rest of the year as well): free tango performances, children's theater productions in the botanical gardens, "drive in" movies in the park (bleachers provided for pedestrians), concerts in various plazas and outdoor venues throughout the city, etc etc.  i wish we had took advantage of this more, but the few events we did go to were all excellent.  one was a concert in constanera sur, near the nature preserve ... they had a reggae singer that apparently is mildly famous.  the music was great, and within the crowd there were people selling homemade breads and other snacks, and people going around selling beer.  mind you, these are not official vendors; these are just random people who thought they'd bring beer or make sandwiches to sell at the concert.  at one of these events i even saw a guy pushing a shopping cart filled with all the makings for milanesa sandwiches (this is a breaded steak cutlet that is very typical in argentina).  sure, the health department could have a field day with this, but i love the industriousness of these people and the sense of community it creates.  much nicer than having to pay $10 for a taco from some vendor at lollapalooza (and that was back in the 90s ... think about how much the price of tacos must've increased with inflation!)

3.  random charming silliness
an argentine friend once complained to me that she felt argentines were completely illogical.  at the time i had just moved to buenos aires, so i had no idea what she was talking about.  but then as time went on i would encounter random odd things and wonder to myself, "why on earth would anyone choose to do this in this way?  certainly there is a better more effective option."  and of course, when pressed for an example it is often difficult to come up with something concrete.
pares y impares
or odds and evens
the other day i went to a new doctor and i was waiting in the lobby for the elevator.  when an elevator came, i walked into it, holding the door open for the other two people who were waiting beside me.  but they just waived me away, saying that they would wait for the next one.  at first i thought this was odd, assuming that they purposefully did not want to share an elevator with little ol' me.  but then when i entered the elevator and tried to push the button for floor 11, i realized that the elevator only had even-numbered buttons.  so i had to go to floor 10 and then walk up a flight.
yes, that's right ... they had an elevator for odd-numbered floors and an elevator for even-numbered floors.  now, while i could see how this could be useful in having the elevator make less stops, the fact remains that it is highly conceivable that the proper elevator could be many many floors away and then the other elevator could be in the lobby, taunting you, unable to take you to the floor you need.  this leads me to wonder, "why on earth would anyone choose to have elevators operate this way?  certainly there is a better more effective option."

4.  street art / graffiti
i've never thought of graffiti as a problem.  sometimes i hear people complain about it as though it were a blight on our society, but i have to admit i like graffiti.  and i especially like murals, street art, and other colorful things painted onto the sides of buildings.  and such urban art is plentiful in buenos aires:

5.  things that are filled with and/or contain dulce de leche
my favorite alfajor ... cachafez brand
mmmmm ... dulce de leche ... let me count the ways
     1.  alfajores - sandwich cookie with dulce de leche inside
     2.  various ice cream flavors like dulce de leche, dulce de leche con brownie, super dulce de leche etc etc
     3.  breakfast foods like toast or croissants with dulce de leche
     4.  on fruit like apples or bananas
     5.  on top of desserts such as flan, cakes, ice cream sundaes, etc
     6.  straight out of the jar or container using only a spoon or finger


  1. I love the bike program - brilliant! I bet it helps cut down on traffic and keep everyone physically fit as well as being a great way to travel by bike without worrying about finding a bike rack, etc. Brilliant. Elevators for odd and even floors - not so brilliant.

  2. El dulce de leche es lo mas!!!!! :-)