We were telling you about our vacation. Not for any particular reason…just for the hell of it.
It all ended well…no one was seriously hurt. Your editor can walk without a crutch. As to paying off the other driver – after the accident – at the last minute, he came to his senses. He had signed a legal document, in Spanish…in a country whose legal system he did not fully understand…without the aid of counsel. In a near panic he called a trusted lawyer, who rushed to his aid.
“Bill, you really shouldn’t do this,” he said. “Let the insurance companies handle it.”
“I didn’t even know if the truck was insured…and the poor man…I didn’t see how insurance was going to do him much good. He was stuck in the middle of nowhere.”
There was really nothing wrong with the terms of the settlement. We had just forgotten to get all the parties to sign off.
“Look, you’re a foreigner. And to these people you’re a rich foreigner. They’re not from here. They’re from Buenos Aires. They’re from the big city. Up here, we say that when there’s an accident between two locals, there’s never a problem. But when a ‘porteno’ (someone from Buenos Aires) is involved, there’s always a problem.
“You got him to sign off that you had paid him for the damage to his car and that the two of you had settled up. But you didn’t get the woman to sign anything. She could come forward at any time and claim she had nightmares…or she couldn’t work anymore…or she had pains in her chest. You would have to settle with her. And the expense could be a lot more than fixing a fender-bender.”
In the end, it all worked out. The man and woman were actually very reasonable. Nobody seemed to want to take advantage of the situation. Our lawyer showed up with 26,000 in pesos…in cash, of course…and everyone left happily. And then, we were able to sell the damaged car for 21,000 pesos…which left us with a total cost of 5,000…or less than $2,000 US.
“Here,” said our helpful lawyer. “Take my card. Keep it with you. If you get into any more trouble in Argentina, call me.”
A few days later, we were on our way back to London (where your editor and his daughters live)…to Paris (where his wife and two boys live)…and to Los Angeles (where Jules is studying the film business).
“It was an eventful trip,” Elizabeth judged it. “But I liked it quite a bit. Argentina is a marvelous place. I’m looking forward to going back.
“The difference I notice between Argentina and Europe is that Paris and London – Paris particularly – seem dead, in comparison. All over Buenos Aires, people are setting up shops…selling things…hustling this or that on the street…fixing up old houses…building things. Things change so fast. In Paris, nothing ever seems to change. I guess people are right when they say it is a museum.
“And for young people, Buenos Aires seems like a much better place to live. If you don’t have money, you just can’t live very well in London or Paris. But you don’t need much money to live well in Buenos Aires. Everything is cheap. And lively. And the weather is nicer.”
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