This is one of the largest cities in Latino America with 13 million inhabitants, but fortunately it does not show the usual symptoms of such a “megapolis”. Actually it is quite a pleasant place to visit and to live: the ever increasing numbers of tourists and expatriates are the living proof. The city offers an incredible amount of cultural activities, there is an abundance of parks and tree lined streets, the food is great and plentiful. Plus, the nightlife rules!
Above all, it is the very people who make it such a wonderful place. Well-mannered, elegant, pleasant, polite and helpful are just a few adjectives that come to our mind when trying to describe the general attitude of the “Portenos”, as they like to be called. Even in a crowded and steaming hot Subte, Buenos Aires’ metro, people smile and talk to each other in a relaxed manner. What a difference to Vienna, Heidi’s hometown, where the passengers in the metro often make you feel like you are on the way to a funeral.
We were in Buenos Aires on three occasions, altogether about 10 days and certainly not enough to scratch beneath the surface.
A few things we found rather peculiar in Buenos Aires were the “Paseadores”. These people walk the dogs of those people too busy to do so. Some walk four, some ten or more. Some Paseadores take their job seriously, others do not. They hang out in parks with other Paseadores and tie the barking dogs to some tree annoying everybody else.
Cartoneros are another common sight, especially in Buenos Aires but also in other parts of Argentina and in Uruguay. These Cartoneros go through the garbage bags that residents and businesses put into the street in the evening. They are looking for paper, plastic bottles and glass, with paper being the most precious resource. As a result, with all these bags being torn open, garbage is strewn all over the place making the whole city appear rather dirty.
This is one of the many consequences of the crisis back in 2002, when parts of the middle class sunk into dire poverty. Unfortunately, more than a few people still could not recover their standard of living after that crisis. But the most serious part is that the government has no clue how to approach this hot issue, although most residents are furious about the litter all over the place. Recently containers were put up to recycle glass and paper, but this needs time to sink in to people’s minds.