Tips for travelling in Argentina

We're back from Argentina! We had a hellava ride. Here's my travel survival guide based on our experience.

1. Assume that your checked luggage will be searched by baggage handlers. Feel free to leave a "surprise" for the sticky-fingers (I'm thinking meth-laced bills, but itching powder certainly isn't out of the question).

2. Always tip 10% unless it's a cab, then you just round up to the nearest peso. Also, if the service is exceptionally crappy (and it will be, I assure you), don't hesitate to argue over the bill and then leave a less than satisfying tip. Trust me, they LOVE this.

3. Many people in Argentina are poor. Leave a few centavos in the juggler's hat, or buy that a hungry fellow a carton of milk. When they call you "puta" or "malos" when you decide not to give to their questionable charity, smile back and give them the universal symbol for "fuck you" just to let them know you understand the local parlance.

4. Don't talk about the Falkand Islands War. Ever. Especially if you are British. Try not to bring up, even in casual conversation, that Argentina lost the war, badly, and that 11,000 Argentines were detained as prisoners by the British while the truce was negociated. It's also important to not talk about how delusional the Argentines are over thinking they still have a territorial claim to the islands. All of these topics of conversation are bound to go badly and should you accidently mouth off, try to quickly change the subject to sports, like how Argentina's football team lost to England's... Oh wait, nevermind.

5. You have to the legal right to a receipt at all establishments. In fact, you are legally obligated to take a receipt. Allow extra time for all activities to allow for incompetent cashiers to tally and print out your receipt, as you CAN'T leave without it. For example, if you want to buy aspirin, which should normally take 3 minutes, allow 10 minutes before hand to check your bag at the pharmacy, another 10 to get somebody to get it from behind the locked counter, another 15 while they hermetically seal it so you can't leave the store with it without setting off every alarm in the city, 5 for the cashier to open it, 15 for her to print your receipt, 10 to actually pay the other guy who is really the cashier, and finally 10 minutes to find somebody to open up the locker so you can retrieve your bag. Total time: 63 minutes.

6. Ask a lot of questions, where ever you go. The Argentines are loathe to volunteer anything. Examples: Which hotel room is mine? What time does the bus leave? WHERE does the bus leave from? (very important) Can I get table service sometime this century? Should I openly bribe you or do you prefer polite fictions?

I hope these small points help future travellers in Argentina. If you bear them in mind, you might not go as crazy as I did.


At 12/22/05, 10:58 AM, Blogger Christine said...

what happened? did something in you r luggage get ripped off?


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