31 March 2011
'Dusty City'Buenos Aires. Day off.
Observations about Buenos Aires. There seem to be three categories of employment that flourish in this city unlike anywhere else.
Occupation 1: The roaming feather duster salesman. Whilst out and about, I have noticed several characters walking the streets carrying armfuls of large effusive old-school feather dusters. To see even one person like this would be noteworthy in any town, but I really have seen three or four, walking amongst the traffic, in crowds at the market, past late-night cafes. It's fair to say that this is quite a dusty city - a few of our more sensitive tour personnel have noticed some effect on their breathing - but it seems surprising for it to be of sufficient quantity to have spawned a cottage industry. Perhaps it's the high ceilings in the 19th century mansions?
Occupation 2: The super-multiple dog-walker. I'm sure dog-walkers can make a pretty good living in any large city full of busy professionals, but here in BsAs it appears to have been taken to a whole new level. Several times now I have seen an entire pack of dogs being walked on a vast, complex multi-leash by a single walker. It's quite an extraordinary sight - a writhing, jumping, yapping mass, tethered by a web of leather straps. On one occasion I noticed that all dozen or so dogs in a pack were of the same breed. I'm guessing that either there's an exceptionally high quantity of dogs in this city, or an exceptionally low number of dog walkers. Either way, opportunity knocked and opportunism has answered.
Occupation 3: Garbage ransacking. I'm guessing that this is some form of public-domain recycling scheme, but after dark you'll see individuals tearing open and rifling through vast piles of rubbish bags in the street. Some of them bring along quite sophisticated multiple baskets on wheels, presumably for sorting different kinds of treasure. There must be some sort of private or government payment scheme for recyclables in the city which, on one level, is encouraging, but the ocean of discarded non-recyclable material left behind has to be seen to be believed. Presumably the city then has to send out garbage trucks and sweeping teams at dawn to put the streets back together again before sunrise. It's a strange symbiosis, but it seems to work - during the day the city is a clean and tidy as any other.