Having completed seven weeks studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, I obviously now consider myself a fully fledged porteño… This is quite clearly an absurd idea, but having found my feet and thrown my anxieties in the bin (they´ll be on sale in San Telmo market next weekend), I can’t help but feel I now belong in this magnificent city. Even when I smugly walk past the famous steak house La Cabrera every evening, allegedly Palermo’s “best kept secret” and consequently Buenos Aires’ “best publicized lie”, I can’t help but take in the mêlée of foreign languages and think, “Tourists…”. What am I saying? I realize that I sound both deluded and in need of a smack (both are probably true), but if you are fortunate enough to spend a substantial amount of time here, you will find yourself moving away from the tourist activities and into some more bizarre scenarios which is all part of the fun. I must also add that La Cabrera is actually well worth a visit-just don’t tell my cool new Argentine friends!
But how is it that you make the transition from “tourist” into “tourist with delusional superiority complex”? Without a doubt make some Argentine friends. I have never met a people as hospitable and welcoming as the Argentines. If they’re having a party, you’re invited. If you’re with other friends, they’re invited too. From there, you may find yourself being invited to anything from Asados in the country, to underground music events. The possibilities are endless. Granted I wouldn’t recommend befriending random people on the subte as a friend of mine decided to do, but most places are fair game.
I thought I might share my most recent “alternative experience” with you, which was a trip to a horror film festival in which an Argentine friend of a friend happened to be starring. Now, horror isn’t really my genre of choice, so I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect, but having been Halloween the day before, I thought why not enter into the spirit of it properly. In matters of horror, it would seem Argentina follows the same pattern as the rest of the world with the unbeatable recipe of scantily clad girls getting drunk and extended scenes of gratuitous violence. It would be a lie to say that I followed even a third of the dialogue but fortuitously, screams in Spanish translate roughly the same into English and so for those parts, I felt rather impressed with how good my Spanish had got. At the end, the audience was able to put questions and comments to the director which I was eager to take part in, but my Spanish was lacking, and my heart still racing from the crash of music as the end credits started; arguably the scariest part of the whole movie.
What I’m trying to say, albeit rather incoherently, is that doing different things like this, regardless of your Spanish ability or interests, shows you a side of the city you might have never otherwise experienced. Homestays, which can be organized by Expanish, are a great way to do this as they will have an inside scoop on what’s going on and may have kids that would only be too happy to show you their lives. This is how to see Buenos Aires for all that it is and you’ll find that as you start to get under its skin, it too will start to get under yours.