Sunday, December 31, 2006

Calling All Urban Planners!

Buenos Aires needs your help. It is in desperate need of a public transportation makeover. They have five subway lines, and they are mostly to get from the outer suburbs of the city to downtown. So imagine four subway lines, coming from the north, north-east, north-west, and west and all converging at one point in the south. Then there is a fifth, very short subway line, running east-west, in the southern part of the city. And beyond that, NADA! There are very large, very popular neighborhoods with no subway stops. Also, to get from one line to another, you have to go all the way to the south, (downtown), usually to the end of the line you're on, and then switch. Apparently, the city was all set to make 8 subways lines, but on the fifth, they ran out of money, and then there was the economic crisis, so....It's also very crowded, very humid (no AC in the subterraneo), and stops running at 10:30 pm, if you can believe it. For this reason, I rarely take the subway. There is, however, a very extensive bus system. Also, cabs are quite cheap, even for Argentinians.

But what, you ask, is my preferred method of transportation in Buenos Aires?

MY BIKE!!!!!

Yes, my friends, I'm on wheels. Buenos Aires is not exactly a bike-friendly city, it's true. About as bike-friendly as New York, I suppose. There is a major war between bus drivers and cab drivers, and sometimes, it's a little scary to be a two-wheeler caught in the middle. But I thought it would be a great way to get to know the city, and frankly, I was tired of asking people which bus to take where, so I just went for it. My German friend Kristina bikes all around Los Angeles without a helmet, and I'm always saying that I'd be way too scared for that, but I think there's something about being in a foreign city that makes it seem like it's possible. I would say, "when in Rome," but it's not like a lot of people are biking here!

Here are some photos of me and my friend Diana, on our bikes:

Diana is another friend of a friend, a half-Danish, half-Spanish woman who is also spending a month here. The other night, we ended up at a tranny bar called Kim Novak, which is walking distance from both of our apartments. It has a very Berlin vibe - it's decked out like a grungy but retro apartment with no windows and a mixed crowd of trannies, gays, and straights. Anything seems to go at Kim Novak. On the bathroom door, there is a sign that reads, "Please, No Drugs," but of course that doesn't stop anyone. Diana returned from the bathroom, half-giggling, half-disturbed. She told us that there had been a slightly freaky-looking woman who was exasperated by the long wait for the toilet. She decided she had had enough and grabbed a paper towel, put it down her pants, peed in it a little, threw it out, and then grabbed another paper towel, peed in it a little more, threw it out - she repeated this process four or five times. What would the Hitchcockian actress have thought of that!

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