We finally got our paperwork completed, after waiting 19 days for our permit. This is an unusually long time, and was disheartening when we learned that one guy in another city received his permit in 45 minutes.
After email exchanges with Alex at EMBA produced no movement, we decided to pay him an unannounced visit. He was clearly unhappy to see us but he remembered our names. He was insulted that we questioned where our paperwork was and insisted he had sent it on to the Inspection office. (Aha, but our intel – aka Cristian – had found out otherwise). Alex speaks very little English and we don’t expect him to, but his two favourite lines to us were, “That’s not my problem” and “Goodbye”. Especially rude when he said them together. It was an unpleasant visit.
However, whether it was the result of that visit or just happenstance, on the ride back to the campground, we received a WhatsApp message from Hector, the inspector. Early the next morning, Hector arrived at the campground. A pleasant young man, he took photos of Vanna, and checked that the plates and serial number matched the documents. That was it. We were thrilled to be done with the process. But wait, there’s more!
Hector informed us that we had to deliver the inspection documents to Alex at EMBA, and wait for the permit. You can’t be serious. Groan.
We caught a cab right away for our third visit to EMBA. Alex said nothing when we handed him the inspection documents at about 12:30. We waited an hour, then he returned to tell us that we would have to wait until 4 pm. Which is closing time. We went for lunch, while I worried that Alex would leave work early. But when we returned at 3:30 he was still there. He finally handed over the permit at 4:30. We had a mini celebration. Ok we were so tired from the day (the cab ride home took 90 minutes) that we just clinked glasses. But we were completely relieved to have that part of our journey completed.
There were benefits to the long stay. We became friends with the staff at Andean Roads. Marcus the chatty mechanic, Sebastian and Andres who are in charge, and Mabel who does laundry and cleaning. They are super people and commiserated with us daily on our bad luck with the Aduana.
Secondly, we saw more of Buenos Aires, having booked the Grand Brizo, in the neighbourhood of Puerto Madero for another weekend away from the campground.
Puerto Madero is near the port, where of course cruise ships arrive. It’s quite a touristy area with upscale shops and long walkways along the water. We crossed the Puente de la Mujer bridge, a beautiful pedestrian bridge which was architecturally designed to represent a tango dance.
We walked along the harbour, and people watched at patio restaurants. We visited the Plaza del Mayo in the city center, which is a focal point for political demonstrations. And we marvelled at the massive Casa Rosada, the Pink House, which is the office of the president of Argentina.
We enjoyed watching a couple performing street tango one evening
and then chose a courtyard restaurant for our evening meal. Even though it seemed secluded from the street our Uruguayan waiter told me to put my phone away. Cell phone theft is rampant.
He also cleared up a confusion we had; chorizo on the menu is a cut of beef, a steak, not the spicy sausage we thought it was. So we ordered chorizo beef along with salad and fries.
We stopped in to see the most beautiful bookstore in the world, Ateneo Grand Splendid. It is absolutely gorgeous inside.
The building was once a grand theatre and the books are arranged around the circular walls on two floors. From the mezzanine you can look down through railing over the first floor, books piled everywhere. It’s very colourful and truly grand. Apparently Argentinian writers are prolific and it is interesting to note that Buenos Aires has the highest number of bookstores per person in the world. So it is fitting that the most splendid bookstore is located here.
Buenos Aires is a lively city with an amazing variety of things to see and do. Museums, art galleries, tango nights, beautiful parks, live shows, and historical sights. We barely scratched the surface. We will definitely return.
Before we left home this time, we were not sure what we could accomplish here. First of all we wanted to arrive alive- check. Get Vanna running- check. And renew the permit to drive- check.
Good bye Buenos Aires!