I’ve been here over 2 months now, so what do I make of it all? I chose to come to Argentina based on a 2 week holiday I spent here in 2007. Buenos Aires felt then, as it still does, like a place I could spend some time. It’s a big, noisy, smelly place certainly, cheaper than Europe (although it had gotten a lot more expensive between trips) but it feels small. People talk to each other on the streets, they hang out in shops talking to their mates, they walk their dogs (lack of owner discipline is a big cause of the smell), they shout, they laugh. It feels like a friendlier, yet still recognisable version of Europe. And then every time you feel yourself getting comfortable, you see something that could only be South America. It might be two adults and a child on a moped tearing through the traffic with no helmets on or a cartenero pulling his enormous load of recyclable cardboard down the middle of a 6 lane road or some kids sitting outside a shop drinking a bottle of beer and offering you some.
Driving round the Northwest, I suddenly realised that I simply hadn’t got used to it and whilst the initial shock of seeing all these different things has worn off, I’m still surprised by so many things. Guys in shops with huge wads of coca leaves in their mouths, police checks every 50 miles or so, and very polite policemen, driving on a dirt track and seeing nothing for 40km and then coming to a busy little town in the middle of nothing where people live their lives without a thought of what is going on in Europe. Can’t really blame them.