[dropcap style=”font-size: 75px; color: #6ac6f0;”] S[/dropcap]everal expats in Buenos Aires have shared the experiences of trying to adjust back to life in their home country.
In Episode 5 of Season 1 (starting at 1:20), Sharon Heywood reminisced on the fact that, upon her return to Canada, her home country, many people would comment on the fact that she was very careful with her belongings – making sure to keep a particularly close watch on her purse and other belongings. Coming from Buenos Aires, where pickpocketing and theft is rather abundant, it was hard for her to break the habit of keeping a constant and diligent watch over her belongings.
In Episode 3 of Season 2 (starting at 18:00), John discusses how he had to adjust to returning to the US after being in Argentina for 2 straight years. When he first arrived, he found that he was much more forward with this greetings than many of his American friends were ready for. His inclination to hug long-lost friends when they clearly only wanted a handshake emphasized the difference between American and Argentine standards and culture. Certainly, if he had tried to kiss one of his buddies on the cheek, as is the norm in Buenos Aires, they may have been a little put off. Aside from that, having used Spanish (i.e. Castellano) almost exclusively throughout his stay in Argentina, Jon found that speaking in English had become strangely unfamiliar, and that he couldn’t help but use an uncommonly formal manner of speech. And, to top it all, he could not help but notice (with disappointment) that he found the women in America to be markedly less attractive than Porteño women.
So, clearly, the Porteño culture and lifestyle can be addictive and it probably won’t take long for it to rub off on any visitors or expats. That being said, does anyone else have any stories about transitioning back to their old lifestyle or things that they had trouble adjusting to upon leaving BA?
Last night the BA Cast Team wandered around Microcentro and the Corrientes theater district (the Broadway of Buenos Aires). Here our quest was to discover what it is that yanquis, extranjeros, expats, etc were complaining about when it comes to Porteno Pizza. What a great evening! We got the cajeros talking about their foreign and expat customers we got the mozos talking about the pizzas people most often order and what the most frequent complaints are by foreigners. Stay tuned…
[dropcap style=”font-size: 75px; color: #6ac6f0;”] O[/dropcap]n my way into Argentina, I was thoroughly unexited to encounter the $140 entrance fee
(this amount is from memory, so it may not be accurate) required to enter the country. Though, realizing there was nothing I could do to avoid it, aside from leaving Argentina before ever stepping foot outside the Buenos Aires airport, I begrudgingly paid the fee and moved on. Other visitors are less mild in their reactions. I have not been lucky enough to enjoy the entertainment of witnessing the furious Yanqui fighting a pointless battle against the ‘unjust’ fee, arguing relentlessly with the poor, weary airport workers as if they had the power to change the law. However, stories about such occurrences are common.
Certainly, despite the fact that their country is probably the leader in charging fees to tourists and mandating Visas, Americans do not like paying to get into Argentina. Of course, nobody likes having to pay extra to enter a country. And when they do, they will quite probably want there to be reciprocal treatment, which brings us to the relationship between Argentina and Spain.
As mentioned on a previous BA Cast podcast, there has been a lot of Spanish immigration as of late, with something like 1,200 Spaniards per month coming to Argentina since 2008, making them the third largest non-Latin American minority group (See episode 9) . So, it’s easy for Spaniards to get into Argentina. However, as pointed out by Fer on the show, it is obnoxiously difficult for the Porteños and their countrymen to get into Spain. In short, it is easy for Spaniards to come to Argentina, but not the other way around. Fernando is “not cool with that”. Dan, on the other hand, claimed that Argentina should keep immigration and tourism easy and flowing into Argentina, to “make them spend their Euros and Dollars”.
So, Porteños, Yanquis, what do you think? Looser borders or retaliation against Spain?
Also, fellow Americans, since the US won’t be dropping the fees anytime soon, and therefore neither will Argentina, feel free to commiserate over your lost money.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 75px; color: #6ac6f0;”] C[/dropcap]ustomer service in Argentina: it has been talked about on the show before.
(See episode 9) Any Yanqui in BA knows full well that the customer service here is nothing like it is in America. The service culture between the two countries, I would say, is totally different. I wouldn’t say it’s unusual to have to wait ten minutes just to get a menu here (though I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten used to it). Fernando pointed out on the show that he finds this waiting period actually relaxing – like a warm up to his meal. I can understand this logic, but I happen to disagree. When I come to a restaurant, it is usually because I am hungry and I would like to be served food. In fact, having to wait awhile to get my menu actually has the opposite effect on me – it kind of stresses me out – an empty stomach and a feeling of abandonment is a bad combination I suppose.
Or, maybe it all depends on what you are used to it. An Argentine walks into a restaurant and, used to the slow, relaxed atmosphere associated with Argentine dining, he is prepared to wait awhile to be served. An American walks into a restaurant, and he is prepared to be pampered – poured a new glass of water the second the last drop is used to wash down his speedily served meal, asked repeatedly by a smiling waitress if everything is going ok, and generally treated like a king (or a young child, depending how you look at it). So, when a Yanqui walks into an Argentine restaurant with these kind of expectations, only to have them shattered by the definite absence of a menu, he will probably experience some frustration. So maybe it just takes some getting used to.
Or, maybe not. I’ve been in Buenos Aires a few months and it still drives me crazy. So, Yanquis, locals, what do you think? Slow customer service = relaxing or frustrating?
On a side note, I’ve been told on numerous occasions that the standard tip at restaurants in Argentina is 10%. However, I have encountered a couple Buenos Aires locals who went as far as to say that they don’t tip at all. So, what’s the deal exactly? Were those non-tippers totally stingy and rude, or is that somewhat acceptable here? How much should one feel obliged to tip?
[dropcap style=”font-size: 75px; color: #6ac6f0;”] R[/dropcap]eviwing my last blog, I realized that none of the bands I mentioned were form Argentina.
However, when people come to Buenos Aires, they are probably looking for a piece of Argentine culture. If that’s the case, here are some local bands to check out that are playing over the next few days. Click on their facebook links to learn all about them.
And if you’ve experienced the wild crowds of Buenos Aires and think its time for a change of pace, or you are simply looking for a different form of entertainment, here is a list of some other shows and events coming up:
Niño(Child): You should say “Nene” or “Chico”. “Pendejo” is also used, but not among children
Guapo(Handsome): You should say “Lindo”
Falabella: Department Store chain of Chilean capital.
Rosario: The third-largest city in Argentine, 300 kilometers north of BA. The city has a reputation for having the best-looking women in Argentina. This is a picture of its icon: the Flag’s Monument. There are very good pictures of the monument here and here,
Monumento a la bandera dia
Lourdes: Dan’s wife. They met few days alter Dan arrived in Argentina in 2004.
Jon Brandt: A BA Cast team member who runs the award-winning blog Travelguy. He returned last week to his hometown of Sharon, outside of Boston, US, after three years being away.
Jorge Luis Borges: Argentina’s most prominent writer.
Márquez: Gabriel García Márquez. Colombian-born Literature Nobel Prize. Perhaps, the most famous Latin American writer.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 75px; color: #6ac6f0;”] B[/dropcap]uenos Aires is a great city to find music and entertainment.
As any tourist or visitor quickly finds out from the first concierge or guidebook they may consult, tango shows and the live music that often accompanies them abound.
Expats and locals alike know that there are plenty of good local venues to check out anything from Argentine folk music to local rock bands. And, of course, there are the abundant boliches that pump out Reggaetón, cumbia and techno through all hours of the night.
While all this is great, maybe sometimes you want something more, something louder, a kind of entertainment that a tango show or podcast can’t provide you with… like a big rock concert. If so, you’re in luck, because at no time is Porteño passion for music more clear than at a major rock concert.
More than a few big rock musicians have referred to as Argentina as having the best crowds in the world. Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam claimed they have the most energy he’s ever seen, even claiming he should pay to see them sing. Tommy Lee called Argentina “officially the best place [they’d] ever played… ever”. Check it out for yourself on youtube or, better yet, in person at one of the upcoming concerts in Buenos Aires, shown below. Then, let us know what you think. Does Argentina have the best crowds in the world? I’ve never been to concert here, but the video evidence is pretty convincing.