Guia T – My Navigation Bible

10 May

Hola Chicos,

Sorry for another delayed post ; crazy busy times here!  As you all are finishing up the semester, I’m right in the middle of my first set of midterms.  That being the case, my days are much more scheduled and organized than they were at the beginning of the semester, but it’s positive because I’m able to fit so much more in now.  I’ve just realized that I’m over the halfway point in my trip, and I cannot believe it.  With so much I still want to see and do, I’m making a list of things to hit up on the weekends and slowly checking them off (futbol game, theatre, museum, unique cafes, etc).  I haven’t done anything super crazy or different in the last couple weeks, but life is stellar, and I’m extremely happy.

In this post, I wanted to elaborate on an important aspect of the city most overlook – its layout and easy navigation.  I know this should have been a topic I covered at the beginning, but only just now have I begun to appreciate it.  While Buenos Aires was created to mimic the grandiose and luxurious capitals of mid 19 century Europe, it’s layout couldn’t be more distinct.   Capital Federal (as portenos refer to their city) was constructed to fit in a simple rectangular plan.  Nearly all the roads and large avenues run either completely east-west or north-south, and because of that, blocks of the most traditional sort exist.   Each of these blocks has a designated “altura” that makes for rather easy locating (these numbers more or less constitute an address, but due to the city’s layout, they end up being extremely helpful)  However, a city housing 11 million people still remains intimidating.  For that reason, all foreigners and portenos alike have a wonderful, handy little resource called the Guia T.  Now, at first glance this 6 peso book appears nothing more than a pocket-sized map of the city.  While it is that, it serves a much more important purpose  – it includes all bus and train routes in the city.  By knowing a specific street and altura, one can look up in the Guia T all the different combinations of public transport that exist and the most efficient choices in a matter of seconds. Once again, this might not sound like an incredible statement.  However, this city boasts over 300 bus lines and 400 different routes. Yes, colectivos without the Guia T are almost as scary as the size of the city itself.  While buses are abundant and run throughout the entire city, the subway (subte) is another story.  BA has five old, rather short lines that run in a fork-like manner from the “Microcentro” of the city ( where most of the public buildings are located) to a few nearby barrios.

Like most big cities, life in Capital revolves around public transport, the buses and subways explained above.     During morning and evening rush hour, these are as packed and uncomfortable as most would expect, but overall they are surprisingly reliable (only twice while I have been here have small strikes occurred).  Both fares cost a little more than 1 peso , with only change being accepted in the buses (yes, you try to obtain coins at every possible chance in this city!).  While cheap, the downside of course is wasted time; on average, I need at least 30 mins to get anywhere using the subte and about an hour using the colectivo.  The only other option not requiring driving your own vehicle, a suicide wish, is taking a cab.  While considerably more expensive than public transport, these  are still rather cheap compared to their US equivalents. Since driving is out of the question, the last way to get around is by foot.  I actually love walking here, and the city is rather pedestrian-friendly, but due to distance and safety issues, this can only be done in certain cases and during certain times. Furthermore, crossing streets can be rather hazardous since no drivers obey stop lights nor street signs. Seriously.  Our professors told us that as a percentage , this city currently ranks in the top 5 worldwide  for traffic fatalities.  Just one more thing to watch out for I suppose 😉

Hope all is well back home everyone. Like I said, life here really is flying by.

Hasta Pronto!

P.S  Congratulations to all those at Purdue  that finished up their final semester. Good luck in the REAL world haha.


One Response to “Guia T – My Navigation Bible”

  1. applescruff75 May 16, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    REMY! Bring me back a gaucho!


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