If one more American or European complains to me about the prices here I am going to go postal. These are people who are coming here with money that is more than 3 or 4 to 1 peso. These are not the people who are here the first time. To these people Buenos Aires is cheap. These are the tango dancers who have been here before.
We used to joke in California about how cheap tango dancers were. They would try to sneak into milongas for free, show up to a group class half way done and expect a free entrance. These were people who always made in excess of $100,000. They live in expensive homes, drive nice cars. They had the money, but they choose to live this way.
What is happening here in Buenos Aires to those of us who live here, is a nightmare. Inflation is driving our prices, up, up, up. Each trip to the supermarket is a new surprise. Something else goes up in price. Not only the supermarket, but other services as well. Last year a dozen empanadas at the place around the corner was 10 pesos. Now it is 15. The large mozarella pizza that was 12 pesos is now 17. Shoes, clothing, and everything else. Nothing is cheaper. Everything costs more.
All of this is bad enough, but then I have to listen to people who spend at least $1100 to get here, $600-$800 to stay here, complain about the prices. It is like how dare Argentina not be as cheap as last year! There seems to be no concern for those of us that live here. It is all about them. Bad Argentina, Bad...how dare you not allow me to spend more on my vacation.
I laugh at people who insist on taking buses in neighborhoods that are not so great. I warn them. You stick out. You look foreign. Don't do it. "Oh and you don't" they always counter to me. No, I don't, not until I open my mouth. My clothes are from here. I know the neighborhood. I know where I am going. I know how to act.
It is beyond me why someone would rather risk their vacation than pay 2.5 euros or 3.5 dollars to get somewhere safe. Yes, you can hop the colectivo for 80 centavos instead of 12 pesos. To someone like me or someone who has even less money, that is a big difference. To someone with dollars or euros, it is nothing. You cannot convince me otherwise.
My friend Jose the remise driver is outside of Celia's on Saturday night when I was leaving. I was thrilled to see him. He takes Kenny and me back to Palermo. It was raining. Normally I would take the bus. On the way home Jose tells me about Clara. She is a French woman I know. He saw her outside of El Beso last week. He offered to take her home. She said no, she would take the bus.
He told her at 3 in the morning he did not think it was such a good idea for her to wait on Callao. I have done it many times. In my old funky boots, jacket, and plastic purse. In the summer I have an equal uniform. There was Clare. With her nice leather bag dressed in her foreign clothes. She had her purse snatched by a moto-chorro. (A thief on a motorcyle) He got her nice bag, her money, a book, her shoes and many other things. The 80 centavo bus cost her over $300. USD. All because she did not want to pay 1.5 euros or 7 pesos for a taxi.
It is not dangerous here, not like the U.S. We have petty crime here. I am never afraid of someone dragging me into a dark alley. I keep my eyes open to someone snatching my purse. Mostly I am ignored other than the usual comments about my body parts. Sometimes I get hit up for small change. If I have it in my pocket, at 3:00 am I hand it over.
What has happened with this inflation based economy is the thieves have realized why go after someone who has no money. The foreigners are a much better target. There are the mustard people who squirt your back with this vile smelling mustard vinegar stuff to simulate bird doo doo. While the nice "passerbys" are helping you wipe it off, their friend is cleaning out your pockets or your purse or backpack.
The moto-chorros usually work the zones where there are more tourists. One is on the sidewalk checking out purses, backpacks, and jewelry. When he or she spots someone, they contact them via cell. Nextel has been a big plus in the moto-chorro industry. The moto-chorros usually consist of the driver, and a person on the back who snatches the purse or whatever. Before you can recover they are zooming down the street.
I warned this one person to not wear his Rolex. "Go buy a cheap watch." I advised him. He laughed at me. Being big, fat, and ugly, he figured no one would dare to cross him. Except the day he was in the Recoleta waiting for the light to change. Zoom! Zoom! Hasta la vista la Rolex.
They complain about the cost of taxis (one woman whined I used to be able to go anywhere for under 10 pesos, now it is over 15...she is from the U.S., it is costing her $1.50 more.) Another whines that this year she can only buy 3 pair of shoes instead of 4 or 5. They whine how the milongas are now 2 pesos more.
Funny how they whine about the cost of our living. Yet when I tell them I cannot pay 45 pesos every night to go dance, they don't understand why. One person tells me "That is only $14.00. It is nothing." Well maybe to him. I have to teach 2 classes to pay for that evening. That 45 pesos is the taxi rides there and back, my entrance, and something to drink. $14 in San Francisco? What does that get you? Into the milonga and nothing else.
Argentines worry about the inflation that happened here when it was 200% before the peso was pegged to the dollar. The tourists threaten not to come back because it is "too expensive." Like we raised the prices on them only. Spare me. Argentines worry about how to pay their bills, feed their families, the tourists complain about the prices in the milongas.
Is it no wonder the Argentines complain when the foreigners accuse them of "ripping them off?" You always have a choice in life. You don't have to come here to dance. But we still have to live here.