Saturday, January 9, 2010

Buenos Aires Empties Out

January is the month when most government offices close down. Lawyers, judges, and other bureaucrats take the entire month off and leave the city, as well as many businessmen and other professionals. The city started slimming down in late December, but this week after New Years', I've really seen how Buenos Aires has become a ghost town.

It's noticeable walking to work in the mornings right off the bat. The streets I walk in the Microcentro used to be congested and packed with people bustling by. It's no surprise Argentinians drive crazily because they generally don't know how to walk either. At any given moment someone in front will change directions twice and then stop in their tracks, and I'll have to swerve around people left and right. But this week the streets were nearly empty, and it was like walking down a 3 lane highway in the middle lane with no cars around.

The city keeps getting hotter, and with empty tumbleweed streets, the heat just rises and rises up the metal valleys and titanium rivers. But with all of the Porteños gone, in their place a multitude of tourists have stepped in to fill their place. Their numbers are far from replacing the missing locals, but it's evident where I work that it's high season. Walking down Calle Florida is a headache, more so than usual. But at the very least you have to be glad that there are tourists here, spending money and putting something into the economy. I can't say whether or not tourism is at a number that would be considered normal due to the crisis.

Once January ends the numbers should come back up, and the city will fill up again. But for now, I'm able to enjoy nearly empty buses and subways, and clutter-free streets.

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