Getting to our rented apartment at 1832 Thames, Unit 5A in Palermo was easy enough.
While we mostly communicated with Jeffrey from www.RestinginBuenos Aires.com while in Toronto, our contact here in BA is Guillermina. We had arranged for pick up from the airport and sure enough, a lady with a sign was there to guide us to Aldo, our driver who drove us to our rented flat. On the way I received my first lessons about BA and also in language. Aldo preferred Spanish and I agreed that this would be easier. Naturally I missed a bunch of words, but I got the basics.
BA is an assortment of smaller towns, there is no single town called Buenos Aires.
At the apartment, Guillermina‘s father, Miguel, gave us a hearty welcome and showed us the intricacies of the A/C ,
Our first trip out was to find some provisions and that was an easy chore since the Supermarket is just one block away on the next street over. The prices are less than in Canada or the U.S. but not cheap. We could find everything we wanted just not in the quantity or variety we are used to. We bought bread, cheese, butter, milk, eggs, o juice, wine, beer, fruit and we are all set for a few days.
So, now where do we start?
As is customary here, people come up to you and just put an item they want to sell on your table, leave it there for a few moments, then come back and retrieve the item or you just give them the money for the item, Yes, the try to sell you what they have but there is no pressure, you have the choice. Leave the item where it is for retrieval or buy it. Very simple, no arguments and perfectly understood by all participants. So I was a little surprised when my young neighbor was approached by two men in their 20s who peddled socks this way. Both of them fanned a stack of socks out so that all colors were visible and I believe you could make your choice. It seemed very harmless and they did walk away without an argument when the young fellow with the computer did not want to buy any socks. In fact they walked away rather quickly and separately. And seconds later our neighbor with the computer yelled;” Hey, where is my cell phone”
Then things happened extremely fast. Both sock men tried to run away but one was not fast enough. The proprietor of restaurant grabbed the sock man by the neck and held him until the police arrived. The first Policeman to arrive was on a bicycle. While the Officer was busy with the suspect, a bystander yelled at the Proprietor and they even came to blows and kicks and fists for calling the police. Then a police car showed up, then another police car and finally even a private car with men dressed in civvies, toting clipboards and official looking badges. The bike officer was sent to find the run-away sock man but it was fruitless. A lot of commotion and heated arguments were exchanged yet somehow I just sat and watched it all. It was like a live TV show, emotions ran high, tempers flared and even kicks and punches were exchanged yet somehow the attitude was to not take life too seriously. Yes, the young man with the lost cell phone had to tell the police his story but he was calm and smoked a cigarette and just stood there. Yes, the police arrived quickly and in force but they knew their limitations and did do the paper work and the bystanders, too had their opinions. Even the thief took his fate in stride, sitting on the ground waiting for something to happen next.
My lesson from this incident is to not leave my camera lying on the table nor to have anything loose hanging off my belt. I now clip the camera to my belt and have the belt of my fanny pack clipped to a steel loop that was part of the set up of the fanny pack. Argentina, it seems has thieves.