Darcie hits the jackpot!


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South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires
January 14th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Plaza Italia in Palermo.
Geo: -34.6118, -58.4173

Yesterday, the bank told R&D that they should be able to get cash directly from a bank teller, and Darcie asked if I could accompany them this morning, in case there were any language issues. We tried one bank, only to be to told it wasn't possible there, but to try at Citibank. Over at the Citibank, we were told that it simply wasn't possible in Argentina for a teller to assist a foreign bank account holder.

I explained to Veronica, the lady at the Citibank, that Darcie hadn't been able to withdraw any funds for a few days, that it had been very stressful dealing with her own bank, and that Ranjit had become ill ... tears started to well up in Darcie's eyes, and this is where I was VERY impressed with Veronica's customer service.

Veronica said "Let me help", grabbed Darcie by the hand, and led us both to an ATM. She explained how the ATM system worked here for foreigners - that there was a maximum withdrawal of 300 pesos per transaction, but that it was possible to do three withdrawals per day. I think both Darcie and I were skeptical of this, me especially,
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Again, the ice cream ads in South America just don't have that "je ne sais quoi" that the Spanish ones do.
because I had withdrawn 600 pesos at once, numerous times before. And Darcie had troubles previously trying to take out even 200 pesos.

But lo and behold - 300 pesos came out of the machine! The look on Darcie's face was priceless; her expression was that of a woman who had just won the jackpot at a slot machine! Her face lit up as she asked "Can we try it again?" Again, 300 more pesos came out. Fearful that this newfound luck with the ATMs wouldn't last, Darcie used up her three withdrawals for the day. Then she said "How about we try my Mastercard?" - she was literally like a kid in a candy store, with a huge smile on her face!

I think Darcie was anxious to rush back to the hotel and tell Ranjit the good news, but I suggested she put away all the cash and bank cards before leaving the ATM - it would be horrible if, after finally being able to withdraw money, someone were to steal it! On the way back to the hotel, Darcie picked up her laundry, which I offered to carry for her, so that she should keep both hands on
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I smelled this incredible aroma coming from a bakery, and couldn't resist popping in - I grabbed a slice of this great looking tomato and egg tart.
her purse, just in case. We didn't want to tempt fate after all her bad luck the past few days.

I checked out of the hotel, and checked into Hostel Florida, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, down Florida street. I only stayed an extra night at the Hotel Waldorf because Anness had already pre-booked and pre-paid for extra nights there, and it was easy enough just to pay her the cash when she decided to switch to a different hotel. But I didn't see a need to pay for another night at a hotel, when a hostel bed would do just as fine.

Hostel Florida is your standard big, impersonal hostel. It's got some decent facilities, decent mattresses, and big lockers - but it's a fairly forgettable place. Luckily for me, the room was ready early, so I was able to quickly unpack and settle in before heading off for some sightseeing. Before heading out, I had a brief chat with Carlos, an Argentinian teacher who is in town for a job interview.

Today's plan was to check out the Palermo neighbourhood - it's an area relatively devoid of actual tourist sights, but it's definitely a great
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They gave me a slice much bigger than I expected, and I wondered if they made a mistake with the order - I wanted the tomato and egg tart because I felt like something a bit lighter, but the tart also had tons of ham and cheese, and was very filling. The crust was a little dry, and was overly flaky once you got through the tough exterior part.
place to while away an afternoon browsing in its numerous boutiques, sipping coffee at a cafe, or having dinner or drinks in the evening.

It was nearing the peak afternoon temperatures, so it was a long, hot walk back through Palermo to the Botanic Garden. I grabbed a bench and closed my eyes for what felt like only a few minutes, but when I glanced at my watch, 35 minutes had passed.

Up next was the Evita museum, all in Spanish, which was great practice. I didn't care much for the artifacts, but the museum presented the story of her life, which I found quite interesting. I didn't realize that she died at such a young age. Sadly, all I really knew of Eva Peron beforehand is what I saw in the trailers for Madonna's crappy Evita movie.

After, I spent some time at the Japanese Garden - nice, but fairly small. It was a nice spot to find some shade and cool off. I had originally wanted to also check out MALBA, the Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art, which happened to be free today. But the heat sapped all my energy, and I decided just to go back
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Drain for an A/C unit - normally, nobody drains them, they just let them drip on the people below. Whenever that happens, you always hope that it's just A/C condensate, and not somebody spitting on you, or a bird peeing on you.
to the hostel for a siesta, before finding the others for dinner. By the time I walked the 15 minutes to the nearest metro station, my shirt was completely soaked - nasty!

At the hostel, I nearly crapped my pants - where was my moneybelt, with my extra cash and passport??? I was certain that I had left it in my main backpack, in the usual pocket where I keep it. But the pocket was unzipped ... I had left everything in my locker, but previously noted that the door didn't seem that sturdy. Had someone broken in to my locker, stolen my moneybelt, and put everything back in place? Was it an inside job? I usually keep a lock on my backpack, but remembered that I hadn't earlier locked the bag - but the lock was completely missing, and I would normally leave it on the bag, even it if wasn't locked up.

This was strange ... especially since nothing in my bag seemed out of place, it was almost as if they knew exactly where I kept the moneybelt. I quickly looked around the bag, but it was nowhere to be found. What was I going to do?
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Claro is a big South American cell phone provider - their name is splashed all over South American street signs. Makes you wonder how much that bit of advertising costs?
I grabbed my guidebook and looked up the Canadian Embassy - I'd have to get my passport replaced as soon as possible. Getting home wasn't going to be a problem, since there was plenty of time to get a replacement passport, but what was I going to do for the rest of the trip???

How was I going to get to Uruguay tomorrow, without it? What about my flight to Iguazu falls in a few days time? Would I need my passport for that? The funny thing is, I really didn't care about getting home, it was all about figuring out how to finish off the rest of my trip without my passport!

I glanced again at my bag - having just done a fresh load of laundry the other day, my bag was re-packed just this morning. If the moneybelt was in the bag, it wasn't anywhere obvious, and couldn't be hidden anywhere. I distinctly remembered seeing my moneybelt this morning, when I checked out of the Hotel Waldorf. Maybe I left it there? But no, I couldn't have - I also remembered having the moneybelt when I checked into the hostel.

I racked my brains for about 20 minutes ...
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Gotta be hot - definitely over 35 degrees today, can you imagine having this guy's job and walking around in a Barney costume? I think he was singing his own version of the Barney song - "I love you, if you love me, shoot me now and end my misery ..."
and then I finally decided to take everything out of my backpack, and do a thorough search. And lo and behold, there was my moneybelt, tucked behind a couple of books. I blame this whole episode on the intense heat scrambling my brains today!

I took a quick siesta, before heading to the hotel to find R&D for dinner. I arrived a bit early, so I sat in the lobby, writing in my journal, and enjoying the A/C. There must be a big Brazilian tour group at the hotel, because the lobby was instantly swarmed with people speaking Portuguese. R&D came down a short while later, and suggested a restaurant in Palermo that their friends had raved about. Fearing that it might be a fancy place, I went back to the hostel to put on some pants. This would also give some more time for Ben and Ha to return - while we didn't make any firm dinner plans, we had hoped that they'd join us for dinner, but there was no answer at their room.

I changed and rushed back to the hotel, in a sweat. It's too bad I was in such a hurry, because the eye candy was
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The botanical gardens - I don't think the sign makers realize it's so hot, that all the grass has been vaporized.
definitely out tonight - but there was no time to enjoy it! Back at the hotel, Ranjit had disappeared. I guess he just wasn't feeling well enough to go out for dinner. Darcie apologized, but you can't blame a guy for being ill - so instead, we decided to head back to El Palacio de Pizza for a quick meal. Truthfully, I really didn't feel like a fancy meal tonight, and only agreed to it because R&D suggested it. The pizza was better tonight than the first time we came here - there are only limited options when ordering by the slice, but tonight we went for a full pizza.
Back to the hostel - they have a number of computers with free internet access, but it takes forever to get one, since everybody ignores the 15 minute time limit. Despite having a great sleep last night (sleeping in until 9, and having a big double bed to myself), I conked out fairly early this evening. The heat in BA is killer ...


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Lots of cool statues were around.
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This one was a little bit creepy.
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I loved this piece, and how it appears they are looking to the future with a sense of trepidation, but knowing that whatever it brings, they will face it - together.
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In the Japanese Garden.
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Plaza Alemania.
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The sign says "Swimming Prohibited, High Voltage". Who the heck designs a huge public fountain that is a source of high voltage???
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Cool mosaic on the side of a church, in Central BA.
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El Palacio de Pizza - someone tried to sell us a lighter and a portable reading lamp. Darcie and I had earlier joked that people sell the most bizarre items in the street, like the reading lamp, tape measures, etc. We can understand selling t-shirts and souvenirs, but how often does somebody walk along and say "Hey, I could use a tape measure!"
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Roasted peppers, tomatoes, mozzarella, and some wicked calabrese - delicious! I sucked down two fresh OJs with the pizza, since I was still dehydrated from today's heat. We were given a choice of thick or thin crust, and thinking that we had the thick crust the first time we were here, that's what we ordered. A mistake - turns out we had eaten the thin crust originally, so tonight's pizza had a much thicker crust. The pizza was great, but too filling - as such, there was plenty of leftovers for Darcie to take back to Ranjit.


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