For all of my friends this past year, the sentence beginner, “In Argentina…blah blah blah,” has been a frequent one in my vernacular. I traveled to Buenos Aires last June and have been mildly obsessed ever since. It is such a quirky city that embodies the two seemingly opposite cultures of Europe and South America. This can be attributed to Argentina’s immigrant-based roots, where unlike most other South American countries began by Mayans and Aztecs, etc. OK, my intention is not to write a factual report so here are my top ten interesting Argentine tidbits!
- Walk anywhere and you can’t help but notice sophisticated Argentines toting, not Starbucks or Dunkies coffee cups, but small gourds filled with Yerba Maté tea and drank through metal straw. It’s no frappacino but the distinct taste grows on you and has herbal benefits like non-crashing bouts of alertness, cancer prevention, immune help, and vitamin boosts!
- For those who think they know Spanish (namely my overzealous self on day one in BA), you don’t know their Spanish. Replace all your y’s with sh’s: yo becomes sho. Replace all your ll’s with sh’s, too: calle becomes cashay.
- Sunday is festival (feria) day. Tango dancers and street performers are abound. And there are endless amazing things to buy: from leather to edible to items downright too crafty to pass up.
- Don’t try being a vegetarian in Argentina. It’s beef time all the time.
- Cafes on every corner (with espresso served in baby-sized teacups!).
- Eco-unfriendly alert: all the water is bottled everywhere!
- Spare change is sacred and preserved. Everyone needs coins for the SubT and buses so they go to one of the millions of kiosks to buy gum (chicle) or a drink to get coins. And the store people feel used and get pissed off.
- Petty theft is rampant. I witnessed one such swindling in a café. We were detained for a half hour until the thief came back and turned himself in.
- All the men yell catcalls at women. Literally every single time you go out in public this occurs. And it is considered completely acceptable.
- Napkins are wax paper, regardless of the fact that this material absorbs NOTHING.
I love Argentina and will travel back as soon as I have the chance. Please, please, please add it to your bucket list to see for yourself the lovely combination of European sophistication and Hispanic flavor that is Buenos Aires.
Ciao, mis amores.
P.S. If anyone ever offers you a Frutigran, take one. Or nine, because they are the most surprisingly delicious ugly cookie you will ever eat.
Title from “Sangre Dolce” by Carly Simon