As a yanquí expat in Buenos Aires, it is basically in my blood to be pesada and complain about the things that I don’t like in Buenos Aires, while arrogantly explaining why the U.S. does it better. However, being abroad also makes you realize what you love about the culture of the country that you are living in. As my time in Buenos Aires draws to a close, I wanted to share with you the Top 5 Things That I Absolutely Love About Buenos Aires And Will Truly, Dearly, and Ever-So-Faithfully Miss:
One of the things that Argentines tend to comment is that estadounidenses are frío, meaning they are not particularly warm or friendly. While I happen to disagree and believe that it depends on the area of the U.S. you are talking about, what is true is that the way we greet each other is a little cold.
Imagine my pleasant delight when arriving in South America I got a kiss on the cheek from everyone and their madre, no matter how well or how little I knew them. At gatherings or parties, it’s customary to greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek, even if they are el hijo del cuñado del primo de tu amiga that you are meeting for the first time. There’s something about human affection (even if it’s polite affection), and acknowledgment of the people around you that was really refreshing, and will definitely miss when I go back to Fríalandia.
#4: Culture of Sharing
The fact that Quilmes (the national beer) basically only comes in bottles by the litro should speak volumes to this culture of sharing. In fact, when going out to drinks with friends, it’s very customary for the friend pouring the drinks to serve everyone first before they serve themselves. The same goes with food or drink, as it is tacitly expected of you to offer the goods to other people as well. Being surrounded by this heightened sense of sharing has made me less of an individualistic, egocentric yanquí and more aware of peoples’ needs around me.
#3: Ice Cream
The porteños may not have done their Italian ancestors proud with their pizza and coffee (insert angry porteño rebuttals here), but their helado is top notch and something only a rehab clinic would succeed in weening me off of when I leave this dear country. It tastes more natural, is less sugar-loaded that us yanquís are so quick on doing, and is just creamy enough to make you feel satisfied, but not sick to your stomach. Unless you have been known to kill quarto kilos on multiple occasions….errr….
There are a lot of great flavors to choose from, but some of my favorites include:
Mascarpone con frutos del bosque
Dulce de leche granizado (A classic)
Frutilla a la crema
Chocolate con dulce de leche (Because really, can you ever really have enough dulce de leche? Don’t answer that question)
#2: Public Transportation
Besides New York and DC, public transportation in the States is embarrassingly abysmal. It was no wonder then that in the first couple of weeks in my semester abroad in Santiago in 2009, my sheltered suburban self almost had a Mariah Carey meltdown just thinking about how I was going to get around the city without a car. Now, in Buenos Aires, I can’t get enough of it. Whether it’s the subte (subway), colectivos (buses), or trenes (trains), there are plenty of ways to get around Buenos Aires, and for cheap; even with the unfortunate subte tarifazo that the government has imposed, Buenos Aires still has some of the most affordable transportation in the world.
If public transportation is my god, then the Guía T is my bible. The Guía T is a little pocket-sized book with little grid maps of the Buenos Aires, along with the bus routes for every colectivo that makes it way through the city. With a little Guía T ayuda, you’re all set to go for your transporte público adventure. Yeah, sometimes the amount of people on public transportation forces you to become spatially intimate with strangers, but it’s a great way to save money, practice your listening skills by creepily eavesdropping on conversations, and get to know the city!
Also, thinking about what the subway will look like in the (allegedly) near future makes me almost have a subte-gasmo:
There is one thing you cannot deny here, and that is Argentina’s passion for fútbol, a passion so deep that some hinchas (fans) are willing to risk their lives defending their local club and/or national team. As someone who has played soccer since I was five years old, it is absolutely awe-inspiring to be in a country with that much love for my favorite sport. Argentina may be a machista country that thinks girls are incapable of even dribbling the ball blah blah blah (see previous blog posts), but I have managed to find a niche here and have some really awesome people to play with (this is where I TRL shout out The Outsiders, Fútbolfeminino Fenix, and los chicos de dominfútbol). I play so much soccer here, I don’t even have to buy a membership to the gym – my Fútbol 5, 7, and 9 games keeps my body and my wallet happy.
Buenos Aires may not be perfect, but it is a city I have fallen in love with and will truly miss.
Lo que me hace quedar tranquila es que no es un adios, sino un hasta luego.
Gracias por todos los lindos recuerdos, Buenos Aires!!!! Te voy a extrañar!!!