The benefits of living in a foreign country, learning Spanish and experiencing everything that is involved with local life are absolutely endless. After 6 fabulous months in Buenos Aires, I have grown to love some particularly odd or small things that are typically Argentine and that as a visitor, you are surely to hear, see or experience.
‘Piropos’ are comments that typically come from Porteño men and are aimed at almost any woman. They are whispered or shouted from shops, cars or across the street and can take a little while to get used to as a foreign girl. It is typical to hear anything along the lines of ‘Que hermosa’, ‘Oh linda’ or a simple whistle. Personally, it is easy to tire of them as the comments make me feel a little embarrassed, on the other hand though it is nice to be noticed and appreciated in that way.
NOT HAVING TO ´STAND´IN THE SUBTE
This is actually something I find hilarious these days. The crowds in the train used to scare me quite a lot as most of the time you are pressed up against some stranger and really have to hold onto your bag. Something changed a few weeks ago and I realized that when I am so squished up against people I can just relax so much that I don’t have to worry about my legs holding me up-everyone around me is doing it for me! I do realize this sounds incredibly lazy but for me those moments really give me a sense of ‘community’.
Street protests and demonstrations are such cool things to witness here for visitors. They are relatively common in the city centre and out of the 6 months in which I’ve resided in BA, I have lost count of the number of times where I have walked out of my Spanish school, walked around the corner, and been confronted by hundreds of passionate workers with huge banners, chanting, banging on drums and setting off fire crackers. The majority of these demonstrations are non-violent and only very rarely will things turn slightly ugly. Luckily, there is normally a huge security and pólice presence during these times. It is clear that there are some social problems in this country (as there are in any country) but I find it fascinating that these issues are displayed so outwardly and to me, so passionately. It really allows visitors to realize what exactly goes on here from a local point of view and always makes me think of what these demonstrations would have been like in Argentina’s tougher times.
Drinking mate is a critical part of sharing life together in Argentina. Go to any plaza or park around 5:00 PM on a nice day and you will quickly notice circles of family and friends laughing, talking and sharing in this traditional drink. At first, I was personally concerned with all the saliva-sharing (as people use the same straw) however, I’ve learned that it really doesn’t contribute to sicknesses in Argentina. After getting over that, I quickly realized what a lovely and communal tradition it really is. As a foreigner, it’s touching when a complete stranger offers you a drink from their mate, but for them, this is completely normal.
RANDOM DISPLAYS OF SINGING
You can just walk down any random Street in Buenos Aires and hear someone singing with gusto. Most of the time I turn around and I realize that this singer is just some normal guy walking to his office or to lunch, and has just decided to show off his fabulous voice. I’m not quite sure why it is considered normal here but it has to make you smile. Each time it happens, I think how much I love this city and its’ randomness!
Random fact: The standard greeting in Argentina is a kiss on one cheek; men kiss women and vice versa, women kiss women, and men kiss men, whether meeting for the very first time or having already seen one another several times in the same day. I love this as it feels oh so European and, well, just really sweet.
Public displays of affection between couples however is a completely different thing and is so common here that over time I’ve stopped being shocked when seeing a couple just soo into each other on the street. I think couples in many European countries, the States and Australia of course are much more conservative when it comes to this and I guess you are just accustomed to however it goes in your country. Putting that aside, it seems that nearly everyone in this city is so in love which I adore now as it reminds me a little of Paris.
DASHING ACROSS 9 DE JULIO
Avenida 9 de Julio is the widest street in the world at an imposing sixteen lanes. It typically takes at least 2 traffic light rotations to cross.
BECOMING A BOCA FAN
The most thrilling and visceral experience of any visit to Buenos Aires is probably donning a fluffy blue and yellow hat and bouncing along with the tribal fanatics of Maradona‘s beloved team. The intoxicating display of the leaping and singing multitude is often more exciting than the game on the pitch. There is no more intense encounter than Boca Juniors playing their rivals River Plate. But any visit to Boca Juniors’ intimate Bombonera stadium will be an adventure that you’ll never forget. A word of warning, hang on to your wallet!
I really hope you enjoyed these things as much as I do, safe travels!