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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Not All Fun and Games

As I have found out in the past week, the ugly underside of Buenos Aires that I had heard about came a bit real...and almost dangerous.
First last Friday night. Natalia and I were waiting in line for tickets to an acrobatic show when a cab pulled up. A couple got out and came in line. It was obvious that something was not right, though, as the girl was yelling back at the car. Then the cab pulled away a few feet before coming to a stop in the middle of the road. The driver got out and started yelling unprintable obscenities at the girl. He took a few steps toward her and then started back to his car. Then, just as it seemed her boyfriend had calmed the girl, she started saying things again and this brought the cab driver right back. I was waiting for him to pull out a gun or a knife and make a move, but a nearby security guard got the guy back in the car and on the road. It seemed, though, that he might come back at any moment and make something happen. Natalia told me the argument was about the driver driving farther than he should have and then shortchanging the couple to boot.
The second incident, on Sunday, was much more personal. Natalia and I were walking near a park downtown. It was morning and no one was around. We were in nice clothes as we were trying to find a church we meant to go to, and I had my camera with me. All of the sudden, I felt something splash my hand and arm. I noticed that Natalia had it splattered all over her arm and the back of her clothes. It smelled awful, and being half asleep my initial reation was to look up into the trees, thinking a bird had crapped on us. A couple of indigenous people began gesturing to us, pointing up and indicating birds had done the deed.
"Follow us," they said. "Water, water."
I poured some water on my hands and on the bit on Natalia's skin, water from my own bottle. Then we started to follow the people.
"Wait," Natalia said. "this might be a trick."
As soon as she said that I realized how much of an idiotic decision it was to follow these two people who just happened to be the only two people around and who were just so excited to help that both of them needed to take us to the water fountain that we could not see. I also realized that bird crap is not gray and sort of wet clayish, and it certainly doesnt stink worse than human feces, at least not that Ive experienced. We walked away from them straight away, and after a few more efforts on their part to get us to come back, they jumped in a cab and drove away.
Lesson: just because one is half asleep on a lovely morning does not mean one should not consider the possibility of getting robbed...in fact, one should be more alert. Thanks Natalia, for being on it like that! Otherwise, bye bye camera.

Lesson 2: if you are coming to Buenos Aires, be on your guard.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Natalia said...

We were really lucky, thanks God.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

And just when I was developing a warm coccoon of thinking my child is safe....

2:59 AM  

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