Today is a pyjama day! I reckon we have deserved one, because we have accomplished so much in the last few days - more than we managed to do in several months in New Zealand, in terms of immigration. I have all my papers stamped, and am just waiting on my police clearance which will be ready on Monday. With any luck no one has ever stolen my identity, travelled to Argentina and hijacked a bus or something...
The system is different, but it seems to work. Joel explained that the reason we had to do so much running, is that the system is not always accessible via Internet. There is still a large portion of the population that has no regular access to Internet, and they still need to have access to the system. Hence the queues and the dashing about town like we were part of the Scooby Doo team, gathering clues and racing off to the next location. I can see my immigration as an adventure, or the solving of a mystery and that makes it much more fun! The benefit of waiting to see a real person is that things happen on the spot, with real human contact and not as some abstract part of a big machine.
We spent our waiting time yesterday walking the length of one of the biggest shopping streets in Buenos Aires - Calle Florida. It is a pedestrian only street, with shops of all kinds, from Christian Dios to local artesans and leatherworkers. I fell in love with a leather jacket that I can't afford to buy and consoled myself with two rings from a street vendor instead. For 10 pesos each (about $4.80) I bought one silver plated and one gold plated with cubic zirconias. They look fantastic and I was very pleased with myself for being such an astute shopper.
The service in the shops here is beyond excellent. As you walk the street, people from the smaller owner/operator businesses stand outside to try to entice you in with offers and cards. Once you agree to go and take a look, they escort you to the premises - often inside a galleria or mall - and deliver you into the hands of the owners who then drop everything to assist you with whatever you desire, with no pressure to buy. They all praise my Spanish to the high heavens and offer to tailor-make anything within a matter of a few hours, should I wish to buy something they don't currently have in stock. I lingered over that jacket for at least half an hour while we chatted to the lady who owned the shop and made the garments. She was in no hurry to see us leave when it became obvious that we couldn't buy, and gave us advice and tips for settling in Argentina. In general, I have found the people to be very welcoming of foreigners, and eager to assist with whatever they can.
The not so good news is that a water pipe has broken in our building and may take all weekend to fix... on Thursday we had no water at all, and had to fill water bottles from a hose down on the street. Yesterday we only had hot water, which was fine, because it still meant we could shower and do dishes, but today we only have cold water, and only in the bathroom... another good reason to stay in my jammies all day! It's raining outside anyway, after several days of beautifully clear late autumn days - crisp in the mornings but gorgeous once the sun comes out. The temperature has dropped to a more reasonable average of about 16 degrees celsius, as opposed to the mid-twenties we had when we landed. Nice, but not when the clothes you packed for easy access are all winter ones! I should just bask in it though, because Neuquen will be cold. We will probably head inland at the end of next week.
Ok, well that about wraps it up for me today. No photos from yesterday as my camera ran out of batteries and I haven't had a chance to buy more. Just another beautiful Buenos Aires building. People live here! Can I have one?