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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dummies Guide to Surviving a 10 Day Subway Strike

Scripture states time and again that the little things that are kept in secret eventually come to light. Much like the racy explicit text in this video of Jane Lynch and Bill Maher mocking Antony Weiner. The same applies to things kept in the dark in the gov't  system here in BsAs. We all know the tragic story of the crash at Estacion Once on Ash Wednesday 2011.  But the truth is that there had been problems brewing for decades that one day manifested in the ugliest form possible.

It's funny because when I arrived in BsAs for my third trip, within a few months all my foreigner friends began to feel like something wasn't right. We that live in the city know that it can be a chaotic place to be and we are used to that but something felt a little different this time. This ominous feeling that something was very wrong manifested itself in different ways. Ingredients that were once available started disappearing off shelves.  Every week an announcement on new rules on $USD restrictions took place.  Expats who had been here over 10 yrs were suddenly packing their bags and going back to their homelands and expats that were still here began taking more frequent trips abroad to get a break from the city.

I mentioned that my friends were saying there was something strange going on in the city to the porteño couple I lived with. They've seen chaos all their lives being native to BsAs so they didn't see anything first. But the corruption involving the transportation system in the city began dropping subtle hints that another volcano was about to blow.  One subtle hint being when there would no longer be any security in the subway system.

When I first arrived here there was always security on patrol in the subway station but due to being financial problems in the transportation budget, they had to cut security because they couldn't pay for them any more. Then there started to have strikes where there would be no subway system for a few days. This happened before on my last trip but it was happening at a rate that was more frequent than normal.

Then came the ultimate strike of all strikes in the first week of august 2012. What looked like it was going to be a weekend strike lasting no more than 72 hrs turned iinto something more chaotic than anyone could have ever imagined. The striking continued and eventually broke a record of the first time ever being 5 days with no subway system. And it wouldn't end there, the strike would continue to what would be drawn out to be a whole 10 days.

Traffic on the main streets became congested because people were carpooling and taking autos.  Lineups to take the bus stretched all the way down the block and around the corner. Sometimes when the buses were packed they would ignore people at the bus stands having made a resolve not to pick up any more people on their route. People took to twitter to voice their displeasure while the national gov't, the city council, and subway workers participated in multiple meetings to reconcile the situation, meetings that ended in failure each time until a truce of sorts finally got struck on the 10th day.

The couple that I lived with were left speechless. They had never seen anything like it living their whole lives in BsAs. For me it gave me good excuses to begin going out to all these places with delicious food that I had been holding off from spending money at until August. But the stress level of all that was going on in the city resulted in me declaring that Aug/Sept 2012 would be the month of good eating because if I didn't do something about the raw intensity of life in BsAs I was gonna lose it and end up with a ticket out of the city. Places like wednesday nites at POKE Restaurant at their delicious strips of raw salmon helped me keep my sanity :P

All of us recall that Sesame street was a huge cornerstone in helping us learn to count.  Well the subway strike was an instrumental tool in teaching me how to count in spanish.

First....second....third....fourth...fifth...sixth day without subway service.

Primera...segunda....tercera...cuatro....quinto...sexto dias.  The count from sesame street would say.........HA HA HA

Number of the day 19, The Count
Number of the day 19, The Count (Photo credit: David Boyle)

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Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas