Staying put in one place for a month is a foreign concept to me (no pun intended). But “living” in a place for a more extended period of time has been an educational experience. While being here has been a great overall adventure, doing both the touristy things and the everyday work/school things; it definitely hasn’t been all roses. I also had the pleasure of dealing with subway strikes (the unionized workers wanted a 28% wage increase, which they got most of), getting used to “Latin time” (where NOTHING starts when it is scheduled to), and of course there’s the challenge of not truly speaking the language. Spanish school is over now, and unfortunately I didn’t end up learning as much as I had expected to (the why is a whole long rant that I don’t need to get into).
A taste of true life in Argentina: one night around 8:30pm, I was dutifully doing my Spanish homework in my apartment when I heard a lot of loud noises. Gradually the noise got louder, so I went out onto my balcony to see what all the fuss was about. And sure enough dozens of people on surroundings balconies were banging pots and pans together. The racket went on for about a half hour. And this continued on several consecutive nights.
Recently the Argentine government has put heavy restrictions on the sale of US dollars, effectively making it illegal to sell pesos for the more favored dollars. The reasoning behind this is to attempt control the flight of capital and accumulate international reserves. Because the peso is a very unstable currency (economists estimate that inflation was over 20% last year alone), most people prefer to keep their savings in US dollars (the physical notes, kept in bank safety deposit boxes). Recently, an Argentine senator made comments in the heat of the moment that he too kept his savings in US dollars, effectively undermining the legitimacy of the Argentine currency when their own lawmakers have no faith in it.
So the people took to their kitchens, literally, and protested. There is a famous form of protesting in Latin America known as “cacerolazo”. When people don’t agree with something the government has done (which happens a lot in Argentina), they bang pots and pans making a lot of noise in order to show their disgust. I’m still baffled by what they expect to have happen by creating a lot of noise at 8:30pm in residential neighborhoods… I remember banging pots and pans when I was little to celebrate New Years…