Price Discrimination

So far I’ve been charged 10 pesos, 4.5 pesos, and 3 pesos at various locations in Argentina for the same size and brand water bottle. Not the price swing you’d expect for a generic.

Oh, to be a (white! rich! gringo!) tourist in South America….

Business in Argentina Gets Done in Cash…No, Really, Cash

You can’t get a loan.

Want to buy a house in Argentina? All cash, baby. All cash. 100% equity.

Want to do a commercial real estate deal for a million pesos? Bring a briefcase full of US Dollars. That’s right. A briefcase full of cash.

No joke. This is not a movie. This is business in Buenos Aires in 2009.

It’s easy to bash the banking / financial system in the U.S., especially after the last 12 months, but a few days talking to business people in Argentina reminds me we have much to be grateful for.

Buenos Aires

some quick musings and blow-by-blow, higher level thoughts to come later:

It’s a city with a lot of hype and very high expectations. I can’t say I was disappointed, which then says a lot. It does indeed have a European feel (architecture-wise especially), it seems livable and walkable, the people are friendly, there’s a nice water element, food excellent, etc. The people are attractive but not especially attractive. (Seriously – people talk about the women like they’re goddesses– not really.)

The nightlife is perhaps BA’s most noteworthy feature. Steve and I didn’t see it all but we did go out one night and got a sense. Here’s the deal: it goes on LATE. The clubs, bars, set-up is all the same as anywhere (with a few exceptions – you pay for drinks at a cash register, get a ticket, then go to the bartender). The main difference is how late it all starts and how long it goes till. Most nights you eat dinner around 9 or 10 PM. On weekends, you then might pre-game at around midnight, and get to a club at around 1:30 AM or 2:00 AM. If you show up at a club before 1:30 AM, no cover charge. You’ll stay till about 6 or 7 AM. Insanity. (Got offered cocaine in the club. first time. they must target tall white gringos. I was deeply honored.)

I spent at least 8-9 hours just walking around the city. It lends itself well to just wandering around – there aren’t any big attractions to see, at least in my view. No must-see museum or monument or market or square. There are a bunch of mid-level attractions.

The first day Nate and I walked around, checked out a flea market, ate a traditional sausage sandwich, took a bus, saw the widest street in the world, checked out Puerto Madero and the Pink House (where the prez works – like the White House). Second day I met a book/blog reader, walked around some more, met an old friend at a coffee shop, and enjoyed terrific winter weather (which is like SF weather in the summer). Some of the hoods feel like NYC SoHo.


Third day Steve arrived, and we….did more walking. laid out in a park. Korean food for lunch, pasta for lunch (even though we thought it was going to be a steakhouse), then the club.

Next day a blog reader showed Steve and I around. Walked through famous graveyard – some unbelievably ornate tombstones and the like. Lot of laughing and good conversation. One take away: poor countries face a really difficult brain drain. Their smartest young people want to leave!

Met an American ex-pat – got good run down on what ex pat life is like, biz environment, etc. Most ex pats come for low cost of living and nightlife, it seems.

Steak for breakfast, steak for lunch, steak for dinner. It’s good. i can’t tell good steak from bad but i’m sure it’s above average.

Swine Flu Mania in Argentina

Talk of swine flu has died down in the U.S., but in Argentina (where it's winter) it's all the rage and more. Exiting the plane in Buenos Aires we each had to wear a mask and then go through a health screening. Schools have been closed for a month. New restrictions have been enacted — no children shopping alone in malls alone, a seat between each person at movie theaters.

To date, 50 people have died of swine flu in Argentina.

Every year, 10,000 people die of seasonal flu in the U.S.