Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It pays to be stupid

On the last day of BA, Gijs and I took a public bus ride to the La Boca area to take a quick look around. La Boca has a tourist area, a popular futbol stadium, and an area deemed "unsafe for tourists" by lonelyplanet. How could we resist?

The tourist area has like 2 streets of colorful buildings that are full of shops and restaurants. The restaurants have stages where dancers perform for tips while you eat. I have no idea why the buildings are colorful or why that area of the city has the tango dancers. Tango was started in the San Telmo part of the city, which is where my hostel was.

Since the book had warned us about the "unsafe" area, we decided to leave everything in our pockets at our hostel and just bring some pesos with us just in case. I decided to bring about $16 and Gijs brought $6. It was going to be plenty because we're both not shoppers and we weren't planning on eating anything big. I didn't even bring my camera with me.

After checking out the stadium, we decided it was much too early to go back so we'd share a beer in the trendy spot and watch some tango. Once we sat down, I was a bit hungry so I decided to order food too. I looked down the list of $7 dishes and decided to get a breaded and friend chicken thigh stuffed with ham and cheese. It was really good. The beer was only $4 so we decided to do another one before we decided to go.

In the meantime, a Canadian couple had been sitting next to us that was really talkative and wanted to have a full out 2 vs 2 conversation. The lady really enjoyed chatting about politics. The man was also dutch so he and Gijs spoke for a while about their origins.

So the bill would be 7 + 4 + 4 right? We would have enough money to pay for it all and go. The tango dancers came by for donations so Gijs gave them $1. I hesitated and then decided to be cheap because I hadn't calculated exactly how much we owed vs how much we had on us.

So we asked for the bill, partly because we didn't want to be asked for more tip by the dancers, and partly because we were about to run out of money, and partly because we just couldn't talk to the lady anymore. She was talking about her daughters and how she hated Bush and whether I like Obama and stuff like that.

When the bill came I was surprised. It came out to $25. We only had $22 and the 25 didn't include tip (which is 10% in Argentina). We checked the bill. My dish had actually cost $13. I just hadn't checked carefully. Also they had charged us $1 each for table space. This is something you see in Argentina. I was so stupid for not reading the menu carefully.

We didn't know what we were going to do to cough up the other $3 and jip them on the tip. The thought of washing dishes crossed my mind. Gijs and I looked at eachother like "oh shit!" I considered leaving them one of my shoes and telling them I will come back later with the $3. They'd probably trust me to come back because my Keen sandals look like they're worth some money. I was also considering flirting with a group of girls nearby to see if I could get some pity money off of them.

The Canadian couple heard us talking about it and gave us $6 pity money to pay off the bill and also give some tip as well. That also gave us bus money so I was very thankful. I didn't quite feel like walking the 7km back to the hostel, hehe.

I've given a little bit of money here and there to other travelers in the past though, so maybe that was karma? I still felt guilty taking money from people I could never pay back, nor would they want me to for $6. We thanked them profusely.

We walked out of there with nothing but our clothes and 30 cents each for the bus ride home. We never felt so safe before. :)

So in return I promised myself I wouldn't make fun of Canadians anymore..... during the month of February. Hehe


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