Other Pages of Interest

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Matrix

In previous posts I have alluded to the fact that we are now the proud owners of a brand new 2006 Toyota Corolla (OK, so it's not brand new...).  It came with 50,000 kilometers, a 6-disk CD changer and AUTOMATIC transmission.  All items that I would have taken fore granted on a vehicle purchased in 2011 in the US, but pretty impressive stats for Buenos Aires.  It's been great so far, we have both been driving like old pros in this 'anything goes' environment, and though I hear my mother's gasp echoing in my head every time someone cuts across 4 lanes to make a righthand turn at a red light, I feel pretty confident behind the wheel.  So confidant, that we are going to test the limits of this Corolla's capacity by fitting the three of us, my in-laws, our luggage AND a jogging stroller next week when we drive 4 hours to the beach. But that post is for another day.

Today, I write about the parking situation for our little 4-door, a place that I have deemed, The Matrix.

Our apartment building lacks a parking garage, and we live on arguably the busiest street in Buenos Aires, so the only true option is to rent a space in a private garage.  We found a place, less than a block from our front door, that charges way too much - but is worth the convenience factor.  We pay every month, in cash, with no contract or exchange of information of any kind.  Also, they raise the price every 3 months.  Awesome.

Either way, it is the best option we have found so far.  It is also one of the most advanced garages I've ever seen (incredible, considering where we are), which is how it earned it's name.  There are 15 levels of parking spots, all of them one car deep.  This gives the cars the appearance of being in little pods.  Just like the movie, The Matrix.

 Here is how the garage works:

15 stories of parked cars - AKA The Matrix
  1. You walk up to the garage and signal to the guy sitting in a glass booth.  This guy is smoking and drinking mate 100% of the time.  No exaggeration.
  2. He ascends on what can be best described as a "car-elevator" and locates your car.  If he's in a bad mood, he asks for your license plate number (which you have no clue of) so you hand him your keys and he presses unlock until your car beeps.  
  3. He proceeds to use a mechanical arm that extends out from the car-elevator to pull your car out of the "pod" it was parked in.
  4. He descends to the ground level.
  5. The mechanical arm again grabs your car and rolls it onto a round platform. 
  6. The round platform rotates (like a new car showroom), thus alleviating your need to turn the car around to get out of the garage.
Our car being lifted onto the platform

It's pretty cool.  There has only been one hiccup. Thiswas when the mechanical arm broke and I had to ride with the guy in the car elevator in order to drive the car from the parking spot onto the elevator.  This combines virtually all of my height fears into one: being up high and seeing through the floor (the floor of the elevator is a metal mesh), driving while being able to see through to the ground and having to walk while up high and being able to see the ground.  Now that I write it, it sounds like I just don't like being able to see the ground from up high - either way, it was super scary, and then incredibly humiliating when I was frozen (due to fear) and couldn't explain myself to the garage-man (due to fear erasing all of my Spanish knowledge).  He kept asking "Is this not your car??", and I had to tell him that yes, this was my car, but I could not physically walk to it.  Super embarrassing.  The positive side of this day?  I got to tell Jon that there was a glitch in The Matrix, and felt clever until I explained the rest of the story.

1 comment: