Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What are you going to do?

I participate in a virtual group called Buenos Aires Newcomers Group. This group was started by an American expat in Buenos Aires. She started this group as a sort of support group for expats moving to Argentina. With this group the expats can share their experiences and knowledge of their new temporary home. This group has mushroomed into more than 1,600 members!

There was a recent surge in messages around the topic of dog shit on the sidewalks of Buenos Aires. I can’t remember how exactly it got started this time (there are several topics that rise every once in a while like the tides in the ocean and this is one of them). What I did find interesting was the different reactions from both locals and foreigners that participated. One expat actually created a flyer, and has the flyers inserted in the newspapers in her neighborhood. The reactions went from people saying that as a foreigner we should not try to change the local habits to various levels of support for this type of initiative. One other person also chimed in with the idea of giving your local homeless person the job of cleaning up the block in exchange for some pay.

My reaction to this situation, speaking as an expat who has adopted this country or has been adopted by it however you want to look at it, is that this one falls under the category of changeable habits. I mean, I don’t see anything wrong with complaining about this one and definitely nothing wrong with being proactive like the person who went out with flyers informing everyone about the negative impact dog shit has on the community. I mean they have been able to change the smoking experience here, why wouldn’t it be possible to change this one as well? I think it can be done.

I was coming home one day and there was this woman walking her dog and the dog and the woman stopped right in front of my door and the dog proceeded to do its thing….right in front of my door….in front of me. No readers, I did not loose my head this time like the poor dope who decided to play bumper cars with my car. This time it was a combination of me being tired, wanting to go home, and facing a cultural difference at this time just was not on the top of my priority list. I did shake my head and made a face at her. She got off easy.

I had a friend of mine visit once and we were walking home and I happened to step on some dog do. I cleaned most of it on the sidewalk and curb. When I got home I did separate the shoes and asked our maid to clean the rest of the shoes. We do periodically have our shoes cleaned. However, my friend started to ride me about the shoes and proclaimed that he would hate to be my maid. It was much funnier the way he put it but that was ages ago. Now I hardly ever step on it because I have mastered the art of walking and always scanning the sidewalk ahead. No I do not walk with my head looking down gingerly stepping around all the land mines. I feel like a local now being able to walk down the street, talking on the phone, being a little late sometimes to where I need to go and being able to sidestep the dog shit on the sidewalks and streets.

So, in the end it’s your call people; you, as in visitors, and locals. The ones who don’t mind the dog shit on the sidewalks, well that’s easy, you don’t have to do anything.


Anonymous said...

You are friend of the dictator yanqui mike that will hurt your business .

Unknown said...

Yankui Mike has a blog of which I read and sometimes comment. That is the extent of my relationship with him or her for that matter. I know so little about this person that he could even be a she.

Since I have established that I am not a friend of his or hers that would mean that this can no longer hurt my business.

Anonymous you may have a grudge with Yanqui Mike but I have no idea how I can help you.

By the way, I also received another anonymous comment that was pretending to be another person. I will only post so many of these. I do want my readers to know that I try not to hold back any comments. These are the first two malicious and deceitful comments that I have received.

SFO said...

Frank, I’ve never thought that comments regarding dog shit were anti-Argentine. After all I’ve heard enough Porteños complain about the situation - particularly those without dogs ;-)

I’ve noticed that this last summer that the pavement around my departmento in Las Cañitas has had less “accumulation” than in previous years. I think that this is mostly because my street is being avoided by dog walkers – whereas in times past it was a very popular thoroughfare.

Since there are numerous restaurants on my street, I wonder if the proprietors have made their displeasure known when their freshly cleaned sidewalks with outdoor tables and chairs set up were fouled repeatedly during the day. I’ve even seen dog walkers allow their charges to use outdoor restaurant chairs as urinating posts …

I’m better able to avoid the crap these days, but invariable I get caught from time to time when I’m avoiding erratic traffic or some other obstacle, and my attention is diverted …

This is in contrast to my neighborhood in northern California, where there is a city ordinance against unleashed dogs and defecating on sidewalks and in public parks (without cleanup). Because we live near a wetlands wildlife sanctuary it’s regarded as an environmental pollution issue, but more importantly there is a strong community feeling about public health and particularly child safety. I can’t imagine anybody allowing their pet to defecate on a sidewalk or in a park without a strong rebuke from the other residents if the owners don’t immediately clean it up. My community also provides plastic bags and receptacles for those unavoidable “accidents”, and a special park where off-leash dogs can run free.



Unknown said...

Hi John,

I too have noticed that in some areas there is less accumulation. Sadly though not in my neighborhood and this is in the heart of Palermo SoHo. I have also started to notice some dog walkers actually pick up the mess with plastic bags. I hope the momentum picks up and doesn´t fade away.

You are also right. It´s not only expats that complain about this one. A friend of mine who has a little dog (she´s Argentine) once asked her then new boyfriend to walk it and she handed him a little plastic bag. He looked at her like as if she had just asked him to collect his own feces. He was clearly outnumbered on this one and besides being the new boyfriend he quickly caved in to peer pressure in the hopes of salvaging as many brownie points as possible. As I walked with him I didn´t lecture him or talk down to him at all. He just asked me if this was normal and I had a nice conversation about how much nicer, cleaner, safer, etc. the city would be if everyone did as he was doing that night. He picked up a new habit.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Yankee mike I can say I have met him and 99 and have found them with very unfriendly views on foreigners in Argentina.

They are anti american and anti asian and have no time for anyone who slightly disagrees on their position.

Unknown said...

Dear Anonymous,

I wasn´t going to post your comment but I changed my mind. I wanted to take advantage of the chance to tell you that you are entitled to your own opinion of anyone you meet and why I happen to have at least one of those blogs listed in my own blog.

I have read their blogs and I list ,at least one of them for now, because I have liked some of the things that they have posted.

I don´t always agree with what everyone says all the time. That is normal. I have not met Yanqui Mike or 99. I have no idea what they are like. I do have one thing in common with Yanqui Mike and that is that we both come from Chicago, oh and we both have blogs.

Anyway, that´s it. In fact, I have not met any blogger in person. I do not know any of them outside of the bloggershpere (if that even is a word). If, in time, I become disenchanted/enchanted with any of the blogs I have listed (and others that I don´t have listed) then I will either remove them from my list or add them.