Have you ever been in an unfamiliar city of 20 million people, in a taxi with a cabdriver who is guessing? This is where I found myself last weekend in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It took us an hour to go 20 kilometers through traffic, but another 2 hours to find my destination. After a while my driver got out to ask another cabbie where to go, but that guy drove away on him. When I finally had enough, I told him to drop me at a corner, but he successfully made contact with another cabbie, and I listened to them, which gave me confidence. That was a mistake. A half hour later, after talking to a third driver, he finally got me to my friend's apartment.
I felt a little bad for the guy. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, and his lack of competence appeared to eat at him. He offered to charge me zero for the trip so I gave him a little more than half and got on with my life.
The rest of the trip was super-smooth. A friend had told me to allow at least 3 hours at the BsAs airport as there would be long lines to wait in. As it turned out, check-in, security, and immigration took a total of 20 minutes. So I sat in peace in the coffee shop for 2 hours and ran through ideas of what I could do back in the USA. From Sao Paulo back to Buenos Aires, the airport process took 8 minutes in total.
I went to Brazil to see a good friend and meet his fiancee. I found a whole group of wonderfully warm and friendly people. We spent most of our time with good food and wine, chatting in English, Portuguese, and Spanish; pondering such questions as "Why don't more people use helicopters?"
Brazil seems to me a world away from Buenos Aires. Sao Paulo is much more like Chicago or San Francisco than its South American cousin. And the city and its outskirts could easily fool a person into believing he is in southern California.
On the other hand the taxi fiasco would never happen in Buenos Aires. The taxistas here will get from A to B as fast as that machine can possibly do so.