16 March 2014

Getting Nowhere | South America 2013

29 December 2013

We woke up at a point. I don't remember if we planned to get up early. But it's not like we had anywhere to be.

My first priority was obviously a Western Union. I'm not sure if I can describe the helpless feeling of not having access to cash. It's not that I needed money for anything. I had chicken & an omelet to eat. I could use my card to make any bookings or big purchases that we needed to make. I did not expect to find clothes or shoes that I just had to have. But I don't like having to depend on anyone for anything. I don't like messing up anyone's plans for anything. It wasn't fair to Ang that I needed to borrow money. She didn't budget for that and I could tell it was stressing her. My lack of funds that I might need hung over us on an otherwise pretty day in Buenos Aires. We had to get that sorted.

I wired myself what I imagined to be a week's worth of pesos. I got an address and found a Western Union location that was on the way somewhere we wanted to visit anyway. It was as close to a "win" as we were going to get.

We took the subway downtown. In the subway station, I started realizing Argentina is not what I thought. I don't know why, but I thought it was developed as opposed to developing. Yes, I blame my own geopolitical naïveté but this is my blog and I can not know things if I want. By the time we got to the train station, we had heard about protests over the brown out. We had also seen a lot of broken sidewalks. They looked as though they had been ripped up for construction, but never replaced. There was nothing wrong with the train station. It was perfectly functional. It just didn't have the "extras" I didn't realize I had come to expect. I would later learn Argentina is a young democracy and that there are a lot of things the government and the people are establishing in real time. That's exciting. It's just not what I was expecting.

We got off the train and walked to the address listed on the Western Union website. We found a gorgeous building. I'm not sure of its purpose, but it was not a Western Union. Part of me was glad there was something there for Angie to photograph. But most of me was still panicked, as I was still broke.

We asked people in a pizza shop (Argentines love pizza I guess) and they directed us to a corner a few blocks away. We did find an actual Western Union (hooray!) and it was closed (boo!) because it was Sunday. I imagined going back there on Monday and realized it would probably be packed. I realized the missed opportunity that was Saturday and I was bummed in Buenos Aires. But there were sites to see. So we walked.

We hit Calle Florida, where people shop and changed money. It was the only place around that was full of people. We walked down the street and got hungry right as we hit a mall, naturally.

Yes, I looked for a Western Union inside the mall. I also asked a currency exchange location if I could charge myself some money. The teller said yes... if I had a MasterCard. Of course my card was a Visa. I drowned my sorrows in french fries.