Oh yeah, that is sooooooo Argentina.

We had escaped it up until this point.

You know, the bureaucracy of getting important things done in Argentina.

We had avoided the long lines going out of the bank. We didn’t have to wait 2 years for paperwork and bank stuff like our friends did in Salta. We had emerged scott free.

Or so we thought. Until our ATM card was cancelled on us randomly upon arriving in Buenos Aires and we had $20 to survive on.

After the horror of dealing with Wells Fargo the previous 2 months (they told us it was and wasn’t going to be cancelled 6 different occasions), they finally pissed us off to a point of no return (lets just say we are scouting out credit unions).

“Oh, so you’re in Buenos Aires with no money? Sorry, we already shipped your card to your home in Austin. Have someone there overnight it to you. Not our problem. Peace.” was the gist of the conversation.

No sir.

No sir. Unacceptable.

So after Shaun called back a few times they took pity upon us an expedited a card our way. That is, after arguing with them over the fact they they should expedite us a card even if they can’t guarantee it being there within 3 days. We’re not waiting the 7-10 when we have no money to eat in an ungodly expensive city. Should be cake at that point right?

Our landlord said that once we get confirmation that our card has been delivered we should be able to go downstairs and talk to the concierge lady to grab it from her.

So the day finally arrived and I giddily went downstairs in my pajamas to collect our card.

Unicorn pooping rainbows.

This is how I felt knowing the card was here!

Or so I thought.

[In Spanish]:

Me: Hi, so I’m here to pick up a box from FedEx that was delivered yesterday?
Her: A box?
Me: Yes, a box from FedEx.
Her: A box?
Me: Yes, we were expecting a box or something from FedEx that was delivered yesterday.
Her: (furrowed eyebrows) A box? We got an envelope.
Me: Okay, then it was an envelope.
Her: Oh, the envelope.
Me: Yes, the envelope?
Her: Well, you didn’t tell me you were expecting any mail so I sent it upstairs.
Me: WHAT?
Her: I gave it to the office on the third floor.
Me: But our address was on it.
Her: Well, you didn’t tell me you were expecting mail.

I sat there flabbergasted.

Her: You can check to see if they still have it.

I held back tears. This whole ordeal had been stupid. Just plain stupid.

Annoyed

I head upstairs to this “office” and they buzzed me in.

Oh great, a lawyers office. And there is no receptionist. And every lawyer has a client. And I’m sitting here in pajamas.

The only thing going through my head at that point was thinking, “Well, I’m glad I put a bra on before heading downstairs.”

After sitting in the waiting room with a weepy woman and an impatient man, a door opened up and a client left.

If I have learned anything from Latin America it is that I must be aggressive if I want to get anything accomplished.

I barged into the lawyers office.

[In Spanish]:

Me: Hi, the lady downstairs sent me up here to get an envelope she sent up here because she didn’t know what to do with it.
Lawyer: An envelope?
Me: YES. AN ENVELOPE. From FedEx.
Lawyer: (thinking) Ah yes, the one with the credit card in it?

My heart skipped a beat. Good job Argentina for opening my very important confidential mail.

Me: Yes. The credit card.
Lawyer: What is the name on it?
Me: Shaun Kuschel
Lawyer: And who is that?
Me: My husband. He is upstairs.
Lawyer: I’m going to need to see your documents.
Me: …..

Seriously?! You open my mail, I tell you what is on the card and you STILL won’t give it to me? I head out the door to grab Shaun and our passports.

Lawyer: (as I leave) I did already spent all your money on the card! I had a great shopping spree!

FU

HAR HAR. Really f*ing funny.

I drag Shaun downstairs and force him to put on shoes and a shirt. We toss our passports at him.

Instead of handing us the card, he thumbs his way through the passport, reading the name, looking at Shaun, perusing the stamps.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

Then he slowly hands us the card and tells us to have a good day in English.

This is how things are done in Argentina. I kid you not. Ask anyone around. Pick ONE errand you want to get done that day because people are going to make sure that you don’t get more accomplished. I nearly lost it and I’ve been traveling through Latin America for a year.

And people wonder why I wasn’t a fan of Buenos Aires.

50 Responses to “Oh yeah, that is sooooooo Argentina.”

  1. Waegook Tom May 16, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    Wait…whaaaat?!? I’d have flipped out!

    a) Because an envelope with MY address on it was handed in to some random office in the same building and

    b) a lawyer with NO right over the card is asking for ID!!! I mean yes if it was a FedEx office of course having ID would be necessary, but this dude opens someone else’s mail and then tries to take a moral high road? Nuh-uhhhh!

    Glad you got it all sorted out. And I’m glad you put on a bra.

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      I think I guffawed so loudly at your bra mention I woke up my roomies last night lol.

  2. Talon May 16, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    What an awful experience. So glad you ultimately got the card, but what a freaking crazy situation! Was this just Buenos Aires or are other places like that, too?

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      I have so much content I could talk about with horrible experiences. Trying to focus on the good but… yeah, the entire country is like that. You should hear some of the horror stories I’ve heard… like the bank losing $100,000 and all they did was shrug their shoulders.

  3. Jarmo May 16, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Oh that sounds so familiar. I got my debit card stolen in Peru last year, took me six weeks to get a new one from Citibank (not impressed), at which point I was in Buenos Aires. I spent a lot of time in the various Citibank branches in Buenos Aires, trying to get things sorted in my limited Spanish and it was not helping that I was struggling with the Argentinian accent still. I do not want to deal with another bank branch ever again in Buenos Aires! :)

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      The thing is that this whole ordeal started at the beginning of Bolivia, 2 months earlier. It was STUPID.

      But good lord 6 weeks? I think I would have begged friends for a wire transfer at that point.

      AND SCREW THE DAMN ACCENT. I got fluent and then they made me feel so stupid about my Spanish I think I regressed.

  4. Emily in Chile May 16, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Ohhhh I can relate to this one. Chile is supposedly the best organized country in Latin America, yet there are still moments like this where I just want to scream at the ridiculousness and inefficiency of it all. I’m glad you at least got your card – I was imagining the lawyer saying “oh, we threw that away because it wasn’t ours!”

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      I thinking they probably threw it away after talking to the concierge. No one cares for things like that.

      Latin America adds a new definition to bureaucracy.

  5. Jeremy May 16, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Haha wow! I left my debit card in an ATM when I was living in Mexico. Thank god I had a credit card as well, but, as you can imagine most places don’t except it. THANK GOD there was one bank in the whole city I was staying in (Queretaro) that would give me a cash advance, so after 5 buses later I arrived, thank god it was the truth and they gave me some cash. I found services and people are pretty good in Mexico. Lived in Argentina for a while and I def feel your pain, they are ridiculous there.

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      At least Mexico is a little more credit card friendly due to the amount of tourism in the area. It is sad when I wish for that lol.

  6. Jeremy May 16, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    But when you can Tango, you can get away with anything you want…ole!

    • Laura May 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      Jeremy, what part of Queretaro did you go to? I’ve been times over the years.

  7. Caroline Eubanks May 16, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Wells EFFING Fargo strikes again!

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Oh yes. I was livid. Honestly, I’m very glad I wasn’t on the phone. I would have threatened some really f*ed up things.

  8. Jaime May 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Wow just wow… that is crazy. I’m glad in the end you got the card.

    • Erica May 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Jaime – this is one of the only downsides of South America. They make Central America look efficient.

  9. Annie May 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    the illustrations are magnificent.

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Thanks! I couldn’t articulate the emotions so I figured pictures would do.

  10. Svala May 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Whoah! I’m sorry you had to go through all that… but this post is hilarious to read though! Absolutely absurd situation! Really like the rainbow pooing unicorn as well. Cool blog!

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      It is funny now… about a month later. At the time I nearly had a heart attack lol.

      Glad you could enjoy the rainbow pooping unicorn. I put things in my posts for people like you. :)

  11. A Montrealer Abroad May 16, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Despite how not funny the actual story is, you made a very good reading out of it! Being based in France I can definitely understand how bureaucracy can be annoying at times.

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      I’m glad people are enjoying the story. It has taken me a while to get my story telling skills down.

  12. Barbara May 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    LOL!!!!!! Fortunately (or unfortunately) this isn’t just a problem in Argentina. Bureaucracy, lack of privacy, etc. etc is rampant just about everywhere!

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      I guess I just had never experienced anything like this in the States so it caught me off guard.

  13. For 91 Days in Bolivia May 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    We didn’t experience anything like that during our 3 month in Buenos Aires / Bolivia… Hmm can’t at all relate to that. Had worse experiences in my home country!

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      From the comments so far, it seems to be a fairly common occurrence. Lucky you to have escaped!

  14. Leigh May 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    And here I’m all “yeah, that’s how it goes around here.” I guess I’m jaded. Or numb. No, not really numb, just so long as I’m not being investigated for money laundering again, I think I’ll be ok.

    Now can we talk about getting the electrical system fixed in your car?

    :)

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      I think I would want to be jaded at some point or you would go crazy at things like this.

      Yeah… and the money laundering thing. GOOD GOD.

  15. Christy @ Technosyncratic May 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Oh. Ehm. Gee. Seriously??!

    When we were in France we heard a lot about “bureaucracy” and how it’s impossible to get anything done in a timely manner (or at all) because you have to go through soooo many channels. But that sounds like a cake walk in comparison to Argentina.

    • Erica May 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      I threw out timely manner about 6 months into our trip when I kept seeing lines for banks that wrapped around buildings and 2 tellers.

  16. NOLAchef May 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Oh the perks of living in BA!

    Loving the illustrations!

  17. Amanda May 18, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Oh man, I would have been so pissed!!!

    • Erica May 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      I was… oh BOY WAS I. Started drinking early that day…

  18. Ali May 19, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    Wow, I was pissed off just reading this! Rude on so many levels. I would’ve been screaming at people.

  19. Erica May 22, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Luckily we had been in Latin America long enough that I’ve had situations kinda like this (not as bad) pop up so I kinda new what to expect – BUT – this was the closest I was to losing it.

  20. Maria May 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Remember to breathe… and blink. In with the good, out with the bad, blink, later, rinse, repeat and check into a bank that has international offices like HSBC.

    • Erica May 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      *hyperventilating into bag*

  21. Andrea May 26, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Sounds a little like Norway, hehe. They are really crazy about the mail and identification here.

    • Erica May 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      You know I wouldn’t have minded nearly as much if he hadn’t OPENED the damn thing.

  22. Meg @ Perennial Tourist May 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Oh boy! Definitely a frustrating venture…at least the envelope stayed in the same building and you didn’t have to venture to the post office near Retiro. I waited there for a package for 4 hours only to be told the office was closing when it was my turn to retrieve the package :/ Red tape is too easy to get tangled up in there!

    • Erica May 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      That would have put me into full rage mode. So much red tape… it is just unbelievable. Did you get your package?!

  23. Abby June 2, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Omg Erica… WOW. And that was with you speaking Spanish! I can’t imagine a visitor with more limited Spanish ever getting anything done. :(

    • Erica June 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      I honestly can’t imagine that situation with someone not speaking Spanish. I was on the verge of tears at some points which makes my mind all weird and Spanish super hard.

  24. Candice Walsh June 6, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    BAAHAHA. I don’t mean to laugh at your misfortune, but yer funny when yer mad.

    Okay so I guess I totally mean to laugh at your misfortune.

    I’ve heard the same about Argentina, a lot…sacre bleu.

    • Erica June 8, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      LOL! Your comment is divine.

  25. Antrese June 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Late to the party, but this made me laugh so hard. I’ve been living in Argentina for 2 years. It is not just Buenos Aires. I have lost count of the stories like this. My favorite was when I first got here, I lived in a “private neighborhood”; a new neighborhood with MAYBE 8 houses constructed on the 40 or so lotes available. I rode my bike almost daily, and when I passed the guards, I would usually say hi and chat with them in my horrible spanish. They would ask questions about what its like living in the US. My friend mailed me a care package from California. It took well over a month to arrive. When it did, the guards rejected the package and refused to allow the mailman to enter the neighborhood because they did not recognize the name on the package. Never mind the package was correctly addressed to one of the few occupied houses in the neighborhood. Nevermind that the package came from the US and there is a friendly gringa who you talk to on an almost daily basis who lives in that house….. They sent it back to the US. It took me over a month to find out what happened. The guards knew nothing about a package. I learned what happened after several trips (and waiting in several looooong lines) to the post-office. When I asked the guards after I found out…. aaaaah THAT package!!

    • Erica June 19, 2012 at 1:00 am #

      Better late than never! *passes party hat*

      I think I would have had a heart attack about the care package. Did you even get to see it at any point?

      • Antrese June 19, 2012 at 9:04 am #

        I did. Several months later it finally made it into my hands. I wish I could have all the frequent flier miles from that package. Santa Barbara > N.Y. > Buenos Aires > Cordoba (Pause… mmm don’t know this name!) > Buenos Aires > NY > Houston > L.A. > Santa Barbara (wait! Why did this get returned?!?!) >>> NY > Buenos Aires > Cordoba >> Into my happy little hands!!

        Wine does help, by the way. I think that is why everyone is so happy here!

        I’ve since made peace with Argentina. I started a painting project based on discovering ‘the real’ Argentina (http://kck.st/JSEX7c) . It is an amazing country, beautiful and the people are amazing but you do have to peal the onion….

  26. Jade Johnston - OurOyster.com June 11, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Omg I would have lost it…or burst into tears. But probably both.

    • Erica June 19, 2012 at 1:00 am #

      I nearly burst into tears but we immediately headed to the grocery store and loaded up on wine. Can you be mad after that?

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