Friday, October 8, 2010

45. First Impressions of Argentina (02/25/08)

Argentina has definitely been different than the majority of other Latin American countries I have visited. The economic system works smoothly here and things get done in a timely fashion. The only exception so far has been the border crossing where I could not cross in the night and had to spend 2 hours waiting the next morning to get through, but it is very similar to the American/Mexican border crossing where every person and their dog is checked for drugs (Bolivia has grown steadliy in drug production since the 80´s, stealing business from Colombia).

I was highly surprised when waiting in line at the grocery store and the clerks were checking people out at 100 mph. In other countries this would have been a 20 minute wait. Another thing that surprised me was that the grocery stores have one employee who weighs and prices all of the produce. At first I thought this was another hassle, but now that I have seen how it works I have changed my mind. This system was much faster than the grocery store I worked at in the U.S. (HyVee) where the speed of your checkout was dependent on the memory skills of the 16 year old pimply faced checker (me).

The food here has been delicious. So far, I have not spent a dollar on bad food. Every kind of food whether it is Steak, hamburger, pizza, salad, or etc. was prepared with a lot of TLC. The only annoying thing about the food has been that it takes and average of 45 minutes to be prepared at any restaurant. When eating by yourself 45 minutes is a long time! I left one of the restaurants here to use the internet and couldn´t believe it when I came back and saw many of the same people still there drinking/eating.

Driving through Argentina I often feel like I am in Europe. Many of the cities have a European flavor in their architecture, the way people dress, and in the layout of stores. It reminds me of the way I felt in New Zealand. The quality of the food in the grocery stores has been excellent. I was amazed to buy a peach (from a convience store) that tasted just as good as the best peaches that I have sold while working at the fruit stand.

The stoplights here do not change directly from red to green. After red they go to yellow momentarily, but to 99% of Argentinians this means go. A local Honda Trans Alp rider introduced himelf and bought me lunch yesterday. He was a very nice guy who worked in the oil and gas industry here and had been doing a big motorcycle trip through Argentina for 2 months.

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