Our last day in Buenos Aires was Saturday February 9. My observation of the City this time from the sights of my trip here two years ago is that there are profound changes happening. Some of the changes are good, such as the majority of the stores are not locked now. When we were here two years ago, almost all restaurants and small shops were locked and you had to ring a bell to get in. There are still guards or security in a majority of the stores, but they’re not locked. You have to realize that starting in 1980 until 2001 there was huge unemployment and a large majority of people could just barely survive and as in all countries when times get bad, the crime rate goes up.
Inside Galerias Pacifico located on Calle Florida, one of the most famous shopping malls in Buenos Aires, designed to recall the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy, with it’s long halls, glass cupola and several tiers of shops. The frescoes were painted by local artists.
Another change is that a lot of the stores and restaurants and shops prohibit smoking, although a large majority of people seem to smoke. Now a lot more stores are taking credit cards and there are constant ads trying to get you to get cards. Two years ago, it was hard to find a store that would take a card. People here like to deal in cash, since a national sport is to avoid taxes, which is currently on twenty one percent value added tax basis.
The bad is that there are a lot of fast food junk shops such as McDonald’s and Burger King. I counted two McDonald’s within one block and a Burger King thrown in the middle. In addition, it seems like a large majority of the people drink Coca Cola with their meals. I don’t recall seeing many overweight people last time, but now, according to the local news, sixty percent of the people are overweight and you can see it. It seems like the junk food boys are carpet bombing the world with their garbage.
You can see a large McDonalds sign on the right, then one on the far left with a Burger King in the middle. The men in the forground is an outgrowth of the unemployment, they started making a living by collecting paper from garbage thrown away and continue to this day.
There is even a McDonalds in the Jewish District which serves kosher food, the only one in the world outside of Israel. However, if you want a big mac with cheese, which is a no-no in kosher food, all you have to do is turn around and there is another McDonalds and another one downstairs serving the super size me meals. (If you haven’t seen the movie, Super Size Me, about McDonalds, you have missed a great movie about fast foods.)
Also last time almost every woman wore high-healed shoes (despite the horrible sidewalk conditions.) In the intervening time there has been an invasion of flip-flops and now they are everywhere, women wear them with nice dresses now. Also I think it is much more informal in dress now, we saw many more shorts on women, however the tops continue to be let us say “revealing” of womanly charms, which I appreciate. And the pants are painted on in some cases.
It has been a great trip, the people are friendly and it’s easy to find a good cafe or restaurant with great food no matter where you go in the City. We stayed in the Microcentro area, which is a nice part of the City but very busy and lots of traffic. But next time we will go back to the Belgrano area where we stayed last time, a more friendly, residential neighborhood. It has a lot of clothing and other shops that have great prices because they cater to the locals, rather then the tourists.
A nice area to sit, notice all of the cafes with outside sitting