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Me and the subte.

I moved to Buenos Aires (BA) al­most ex­act­ly 8 years ago. For those who have nev­er been here, let me tell you some things about it. It's large. Do you know Sao Paulo? A bit small­er. Much small­er than Mex­i­co DF. About the same size as New York. Twice the pop­u­la­tion of the Rand­stad. About the same as greater Paris or Is­tan­bul. So fig­ur­ing out a way to move around it was im­por­tan­t.

Vista dos Aires

The way most na­tives do it is by bus. There is a pret­ty ex­ten­sive and ef­fi­cient net­work of bus­es which will take you any­where. There are maybe 150 dif­fer­ent lines, but if you don't know the city, spe­cial­ly the place you are try­ing to reach, they are a recipe for get­ting lost, be­cause you can (will) miss your stop and end any­where else.

Colectivos

To make it worse, I get dizzy on bus­es. The brak­ing and start­ing makes me re­al­ly sick. I can con­trol it, as long as I look out the win­dow, or straight for­ward, and breath re­al­ly care­ful­ly.

So, since I don't drive, and cabs are rel­a­tive­ly ex­pen­sive, I al­ways pre­ferred the sub­way, or, as it is called here, the subte. Plus, on trains and sub­ways I can even read and not get dizzy. I al­ways tried to live close to a sta­tion, I had al­most one hour to read while trav­el­ing and we got along great.

The subte is pret­ty old. The first in Latin Amer­i­ca, and still the on­ly one in a few mil­lion near­by square miles. But it's al­so ... quirky.

For in­stance, I lived in Bel­gra­no, close to the D line. Which had ja­pa­nese cars. How did I know they were ja­pa­nese cars? Well, they had all these things writ­ten on the win­dows in Ja­pa­nese. Sad­ly, I can't find pic­tures of that, and in a re­cent trip I did­n't see them, so it may be that af­ter maybe 20 years some­one de­cid­ed to rub them of­f. That's a pity. I al­ways imag­ined they said in­ter­est­ing stuff, even if they prob­a­bly said "keep your hands in­side the car, you id­iot".

There's al­so the bo­letería-kiosco. A kiosco is a sort of mi­ni drug­store, where you can buy can­dy, a so­da, maybe a com­b, or con­dom­s. A bo­letería is a palce where you buy tick­ets to ride the subte. And in some places, you can do both things. Be­cause they turned the tick­et booths in­to kioscos.

El hombre del Kiosco

Tere is the line at Re­tiro sta­tion, in the C line. There's 4 or 5 bo­leterías. When you get there, of­ten there's 40 or 50 peo­ple in line on the first one. And you can walk just be­side them and buy a tick­et in the 4th or 5th booth, where there's noone wait­ing.

And of course, a clas­sic, the one ev­ery tourist sees. The A line. The orig­i­nal BA sub­te, opened 90 years ago or so... and still us­ing the same cars. Yes, you can ride an­tique, wood­en cars to work on that line. With in­can­des­cent bulbs on glass tulip­s. With man­u­al doors (man­u­al open­ing on­ly, they close au­to­mat­i­cal­ly with bone crush­ing force).

Empty train car

Sure, it's hot. There's no air con­di­tion­ing, and BA can get pret­ty hot in sum­mer. But it's nice in win­ter! It's fast, you can't get lost, and it's just so BA.


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