I spent a 4-day weekend in Buenos Aires to pick up my Colombian work visa. See my Buenos Aires pictures on the Expat Chronicles FB page for easier viewing.
I was never eager to see BA because I’d heard they consider themselves European, they’re snobs, etc. South Americans say they’re stuck up, but I found them friendly.
The city has a noticeable European feel. Many Argentines have blond hair and blue eyes. Very tall buildings with Italian architecture. I’d say Argentina is to Latin America as UK is to Europe. Technically it’s a part of, but not really.
Different countries have terms for different kinds of people. Peru has cholos. Colombia has paisas. Argentina has porteños. People from the port, or who came off a boat. Italians. The Italian tradition is unmistakable in Argentine food, architecture, music, and dance. One Argentine joked that Buenos Aires is more Italian than Rome.
I had to take a picture of this taxi driver’s ID card. Look at that face. The pic looks like it should be on the bottom row of the organizational chart for the Gambino crime famlily. And that name! LAGOS OSVALDO PASCUAL.
Fittingly, we listened to tango as he drove me to Palermo 🙂
An American friend told me Argentine women are the most beautiful in the world. He credits the Spanish–Italian mix. After I got back to Colombia, he sent me an email asking if I agreed with his take. My reply:
They are hot. VERY HOT.
More of a European cut than the rest of the continent. However, I’m attracted to all physical types and have come to value personality. No, I’m not kidding. And these Argentine chicks seem to be a little colder, a little more liberal, hip, indifferent than the typical sweet, sensitive, passionate Latina. I prefer the latter for love and life.
I assume this is a long about way of saying you did not get laid in BA.
In hindsight I’ve think Argentine women are OVERRATED.
BA Nocturnal Culture
Argentina is a nocturnal culture unlike anywhere in the world. The clubs don’t get going until 1 am. There are special clubs only open 5 am – 10 am. I didn’t do any clubbing but every day I woke up I ran into gringos just getting home.
The buffet I ate at every day opened for dinner at 8 pm and closed at 1am. One night I went for dinner at 7 pm. After an hour I gave up because everywhere was closed. The lights would be on showing off immaculate dining rooms, but they weren’t open yet.
I went to a tango show that ended at midnight. Afterwards I went to my regular buffet and it was packed. It was the busiest of all five times I ate there – around 12:30 am. There were elderly grandmothers and grandfathers, families, kids. Below’s a pic of the buffet after midnight.
Food: BA is for Carnivores
Argentine food is the best of both worlds: European quality in Latin quantity. I found a tenedor libre (buffet) by the hostel and ate there five times in four days.
Argentines eat a lot of meat. Protein deficiency surely isn’t a problem. If PETA ever succeeds in transforming the world to vegetarians and vegans, Argentina will be their last frontier. Argentina and Texas.
I’d start a typical meal with a trip to the grill. The chef has various meats cooking over an open flame: beef, chicken, steak, pork, ribs, chorizo, morcilla. I’d start with a plate of pure meat, one portion of each. After a plate of animal flesh I’d go to a different buffet station for custom-made pasta. I had spaghetti bolognese, ham-and-cheese ravioli in a 4-cheese sauce, spinach pasta balls in bolognese.
After those two plates, I’d hit the regular buffet of fried stuff, fish, Chinese food, etc. I never should’ve had that crap. I should’ve only eaten meat and pasta. Then I’d go back to the pasta station for a custom-made dessert crepe. I tried chocolate crème, banana, and dulce de leche crepes. My taste buds overwhelmed my senses with so much pleasure I’d reflect on my good fortune for being in Buenos Aires. After the crepe a bowl of pistachio ice cream.
If you decide to get fat for whatever reason, Argentina is the place to do it.
Language: Argentine Spanish
Argentina Spanish is weird but I had no problems. Get used to sos and vos, which are common in Medellin.
I bought a book in Argentina – El Loco Chávez. It was based on a comic that appeared in a Buenos Aires newspaper for years. The guy at the bookstore told me it was ‘very Argentine’. It’s a 300-page comic book in Spanish that features sex and drama.
In the book’s dialogue I noticed something weird about their irregular verbs. Many Spanish verbs are irregular in their conjugations. Argentine Spanish ignores many of those rules. For example, they say ‘entendes‘ instead of ‘entiendes‘ and ‘decis‘ instead of ‘dices‘. I didn’t put it together until I saw it in writing. Probably a result of their mixing Spanish with Italian.
El Loco Chávez is cool.
I saw a tango show, the best dance performance I’ve ever seen. Tango is beautiful, sexy, sophisticated, and classy. I’m not sure which is a better byproduct of Argentina’s Italian influence: food or tango.
Conclusion: Buenos Aires Doesn’t Suck
The city’s beautiful, the people sophisticated and hip, the food amazing, tango sexy. If you were to end up in Buenos Aires, you could do a lot worse.
fucking cool man
just read your shit. pretty helpful man. Am an Angeleno (L.A.) and am planning on droping out in 5 years and buying a ranch in Medellin. have been there a few times & that place is it for us. Am taking the Wife and her parents to B.A. in 2 months. Your perspective was cool. Thanks. -T
I’m not sure I appreciate your derogatory words (i.e. “gringo”) I believe you are a bigot and question a blog entry that lacks women selling themselves to ashamed Americans.
There is an article in The Economist about Argentina’s eating habits here.
Glad you like it here, most expats really have a good time. Women are gorgeous but play tough to get in most big cities… years of conditioning from aggressive Argentine come-ons.
Interesting post! A number of things you mentioned brought back some fond memories of my time living in Argentina.
However, you need to check your facts on the linguistic aspects of this post. It’s unfair to characterize Argentine Spanish “bad Spanish” or “wrong” simply because it features voseo (use of the vos conjugation of verbs for 2nd person singular, informal). Your spelling of the verbs you gave examples of are also incorrect. Correct examples for the verbs you mention would be “entendés” and “decís”, with an accent on the last vowel. It’s not “bad Spanish”. It is “voseo”, as apposed to “tuteo” (use of the tú form) and is every bit as correct as the dialect you are used to. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Paraguay and most of Guatemala also use vos.
Voseo has nothing to do with “mixing with Italian”. Vos was a feature of Iberian Spanish (in Spain) many years ago, that has since fallen into disuse there. Some old translation of the Bible, and some liturgical literature in use today in Spain still features voseo. Perhaps you were given bad information from someone else, or maybe confused voseo with “Lunfardo” (an Argentine slang that originated in the immigrant barrios of BsAs and is linked to Italian influence).
If you want to say it’s “gay” or that you don’t like it that’s your prerogative and opinion, but a simple search engine or wikipedia search would have kept you from making some blatant errors. Nearly all Central American countries and several South American countries have significant amounts of vos speakers. Colombia has regions that are voseo as well, so I’m surprised by your ignorance of it.
Testaduro, much of Colombia uses vos, including Medellin and Cali. But not Bogota. Thank you for clarifying where I was wrong. BA’s a great town!
No problem. After reading more of your blog, I actually was wondering if some of what you said here was part of your sense of humor (which I enjoy quite a bit!). Keep it up 🙂
Argentina is BELLA from the pics i have seen and what i have heard of it. I’m a north American portenos and i would love to visit and i also like to camp and i was wondering if there are any inexpensive capmgrounds there? Primitive modern or mensa mensa? Any info woud be helpful. Grazie AMICO/AMICA
Sorry would not woud 🙂
We are a young Colombian-Argentine couple with coffee roots that has just opened a new coffee store in Palermo, Buenos Aires.
We learnt barism in Colombia and we offer gourmet coffee from different areas of the country and we are pleased to have this delicious drink for argentine people and foreigners.
As we understand, it is no easy to find this sort of coffee (arábica quality) in Buenos Aires, that’s why we invite you all to come and try it. You will not regret it.
Great information,I would love to visit BA my Grandfather was born there but returned to Italy before coming to the US,also my wife is from BA she is also of Italian descent,I enjoyed the video of the Dancers,very classy as well as sexy,I hope to travel and visit Argentina seems different from the other South American Countries,I’m not putting down the other countries in South America,since I have some family ties I would love to visit,I have heard Uruguay is very similar,Garibaldi fought for them and also Brazil,thank you
I’m originally from BsAs and enjoyed the articles I read. Think a lot of people mistake Argentines as “snobs” because we are well educated both in our classrooms and socially and, demand the same of people we associate with. I have been looking to gather a small club of Argentines in Northern CA for monthly coffees. Live in SoCo. Anyone interested email me!
“We demand the same (education) of people we associate with.” Well, that’s what it means to be a nob. Don’t deny it, embrace it.