The city of good food, protests and swine flu

[Above] The entrance to the Subte (the Subte-rrainean rail network of Buenos Aires) showing a warning about the Gripe A (H1N1) i.e. Swine Flu... Ooooo!

It was great to be back in Buenos Aires after almost eleven weeks on the road. However I came back to find the city absolutely paranoid about "Swine Flu." Actually, the paranoia started while I was passing through Salta, in the north of Argentina. People were warning me about the Dengue Fever that has apparently broke out there.

I remembered seeing the severely dramatised accounts of Dengue on Argentinean TV before I left a few months ago - formulaic fear mongering: footage of hospital waiting rooms of unrelated patients; evil music; tense voices; and interviews with random people on the street who have absolutely no authority about the topic.

[Below] There is a lot of propaganda about Swine Flu in the Subte, where all of these photos have been taken.

The fear-mongering regarding "Gripe A," as it is called here, is just the same. It's mentioned in the newspapers and on TV everyday. In Buenos Aires there are many people walking around with face-masks, deathly afraid that they will catch something which has be made out to be a killer when in actual fact the symptoms are no different than those of a regular cold.

I wanted to study a little Spanish in the public library in Congreso but upon arrival I found it has been shut down due to the "Gripe" along with all other public libraries and universities. Consequently, all university students have had to study by correspondence for the last month. Classes will resume on 3rd August with a bomb-shell of exams on their corresponded learning.

[Below] This busy Subte station has installed a hand-sanitiser dispenser.

Something that hasn't changed in Buenos Aires is the number of protests and manifestations that take place. Almost every day there is an enormous gathering of people marching along the main roads which are consequently obstructed. The formula of most manifestations is: drums, flares and huge banners. I once saw a mobile protest on motorbikes. They too followed this formula.

[Below] Video: Yet another manifestation.

Any possible effect these manifestations could have had has been completely lost by the number and frequency of them. For example, I saw three protest marches
on my second day here. Everyone just ignores them now, making manifestations the most useless, diluted and inane manner to convey a message. Nevertheless, they are part of the culture here... or ill-culture, as my Argentinean friend says.

Following my experience with bad food in Bolivia, I tried to get a little fat eating many of Argentina's good food - particularly before heading back into Bolivia later today. I ate many facturas and a lot of ice-cream and meat, which are all great and cheap! I went to my favorite parrilla ("grill") in a little side-street. It's a small, family-run grill full of locals and old men conversing whilst drinking freshly pressurised soda from old-fashioned soda bottles. They parrilla is called Flowers... how can you go wrong with a name like that! (Their details are below.)

As a second farewell from Buenos Aires, fourteen of my closest friends (mostly Couchsurfers) gathered for a dinner prepared by one of great friends, Belle. I felt a little guilty considering that I had a farewell picnic when I left the first time, but it was yet another gesture which showed the warmth and beauty of the Argentinean people. It really warmed my heart. I will miss this place.

Parrilla information:
Parrilla, Bar, Cafetería, Restaurant
Tel: 4322-4120
Esmeralda 451
Capital Federal

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