I wish that I knew what I know now, when I first came to Buenos Aires
Puerto Iguazu Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
June 20th, 2006 – by: pursuingelation
I went into Argentina having been to Brazil three times, and was quite surprised. It did not particularly remind me of anywhere I had been in Brazil. I don't speak spanish, but even to me, their spanish seemed very different than what I'm used to hearing. It was a completely different experience than anything I would have expected. I wish I would have went out and walked around town for a while the first day I got there. This would have done a lot for, if nothing else, my confidence about the city. It would have acquainted me with the surrounding area and put my location and surroundings in perspective. I am glad that I got a map pretty quickly and found where I was staying on the map and where I was relative to most of the city. I'm also glad that I walked to school a lot while in Buenos Aires. I loved those walks, and it was probably some of the most authentic Buenos Aires, free of english and americans, that I came in contact with while there. I wish I had made more of an effort to quickly become close to the Argentine's in my residencia. I think I would have possibly gotten a lot out of making a point to go out with them whenever they did to see the places they went to. I did make friends with them quickly, but when they went out, i was often tired or busy, which I probably should have ignored both and went out with them. I'm glad I went to the market at Plaza Francia in Recolletta. I wish I had looked for more markets. I was told that Recolletta was the best, and I think every other american in Buenos Aires was told the same, because I heard a good deal of english there. Sometimes I exchanged words or struck up a small conversation, but usually I ignored the other americans until they went away and left me at my attempts to immerse myself, as much as possible, in the Porteno culture. Recolletta was a good market though. I bought a lot of really cool stuff there. One day I spent all the Argentine Pesos I had on me, so I started spending American dollars that I had left in my wallet. The people there are usually more than happy to take American dollars, but they are also more than happy to round up to the nearest dollar, so do the math yourself, and it's probably best to use Argentine Pesos as much as possible. I wish that I had taken more weekend trips out of Buenos Aires. I didn't take any. The trip that two people took to the hot springs in Uruguay sounded pretty cool, and the trip that a bunch of people took to Mendoza sounded really cool too, and the pictures from it looked great. I wish I had gone just to have been hang-gliding. I kind of had an opportunity to go to Patagonia and go on a whale tour, but circumstances didn't work out. That would have been fun though. I kind of wish I had pursued that more fervently. I went to Tierra Santa (saint's Land) or as we all called it, "the Jesus Theme Park." I went with one of my roommates, an Argentine. We had a good time, it was really funny. I'm glad I went. I wouldn't pick it over going to Uruguay or Mendoza, or anything like that. I wouldn't even pick it over going to the market at Recolletta, but I would recommend it over doing nothing, or sleeping in (which you can still do and then go), or going to the market for the 3rd or 4th time. I think you can take either the 68 or the 62 bus. You go towards Aeroparke, the airport. It's open until 5 at least , on fridays. I think it may be open every day. When I went it was friday and there were school field trips there. I imagine it would be better on a saturday or sunday with more people and more shows and events. I think on a busy day, it's more like the Renaissance Festival in Jerusalem with an elaborate set. I wish I had been to some of the little Jazz places and just late night live music cafe things, that I think a lot of people went to. I kept meaning to go, and planning to go, and even went looking for some one night, but it never worked out. Most of the people in the group went and seemed to enjoy them. I wish I had been too. Supposedly El Tigre is like every person in buenos Aires favorite place to go, or something like that. I went, and a lot of the group went on a different time. None of us really liked it. I think they all went on a friday, and I on a monday, and supposedly it is much nicer on the weekend. I went with a Buenos Aires native, Portana, and when we got there she said it was lame that day because it was a monday. She also said it is better if you can drive around. So maybe if you had access to a car through an argentine or you rent one, El Tigre could be a good saturday or sunday getaway, otherwise, there's a scenic train that is pretty cool that takes you along to coast to El Tigre, and I think that train was the best part. I only stopped at one stop along the way, but when you pay for your ticket, it's like either a two way all the way or a day pass, i think it was a day pass, so you can stop at every stop and walk around and I think that would be worth doing. It looked really nice. I think I tried to let myself adjust too slowly to Buenos Aires. I should have just done any and everything that anyone mentioned. And if you're homesick, I think the best thing to do is to keep busy, if you hand around writing email to family and friends all the time, it makes you miss them more. I would recommend keeping the emails to a minimum. I never used mail while I was there, because I didn't get around to writing any and I didn't find a post office, but I heard from a student that had been there a while, that anything more than a letter, maybe even anything at all that you want to be somewhere anytime soon (like less that 2 months) should be fedex or UPSed. Eat at a different Restaurant as much as possible. I recommend every or almost every time you eat out. If you lie the food in the residencia, you should go eat it, even before you go out probably, because most portions in Buenos Aires are rather small. Food is also often Bland. Salsa Golf is really good to fight some of the blandness. Be smart, but don't be afraid. I had someone try to steal my computer, but I was sitting on a street corner at night outside of a cafe. That was not smart. So it was pretty much my fault for making myself such a target. The attempted theft however was not successful. One of the other group members also saw a woman trying to go into his backpack while he was wearing it. When she saw he had noticed she went away. I know of two individuals that had items stolen. One on the subway, the other on an overnight bus. I recommend having locks on all the zippers on your bookbag. It wont help you if you're robbed, but it makes pick pocketing a whole lot harder, and you get used to the locking and unlocking pretty quickly, it becomes mechanical like tying your shoes. Also, keep everything (wallet, cell phone, keys, etc.) in your front pockets. Whenever I was in a densely packed area (market, train, bus, etc.), I kept my hands in my pockets. I assumed that was the best way to keep other people's hands out of them. Every now and then I would pat the locks on my bookbag and the bookbag itself to make sure no one had done anything to the locks, and or bag. I was told that people will come up to bookbags and run a razor across the bottom and let everything inside drop into another bag then walk off with it. this would have been obvious to me because every compartment of my bag had heavy items that I would have noticed leaving it, but I payed special attention anyways. I walked around at night a lot, and never had any real reason to be creeped out. I would suggest just being smart, and not making a target of yourself. A loud american speaking english is a target. People in Buenos Aires don't usually wear lots of bright colors, so that will make you stand out, and could be a target. Otherwise simple common sense should be enough in most cases. I never had anyone really try to scam me. I had some overly persistent begging, but I just ignored and kept moving. When someone does try to say something to you, generally your reply should probably be "no" or "no, gracias", but don't make eye contact, and don't slow down. If you look at someone begging or trying to sell something, they will be much more persistent, and if you stop and try to convince them to leave you alone, you probably will have no luck. I was surprised to find there was not a haggling culture, so if you've been to haggling countries, don't expect the same from Buenos Aires. You can expect maybe one or two Pesos off. The vendor may even be kind of offended. I would recommend keeping a pretty close eye on how much you buy. I spent a lot of money, and got a lot of stuff. My bags are bursting at the seams and I will probably buy another bag in Curitiba. I also recommend not taking a whole lot of stuff. You can find just about anything in Buenos Aires. You can probably find your favorite shampoo even. Now it's probably more simple for most people to bring their toiletries. but when packing clothes, and accessories, I would ere on the side of minimalism. I brought a few belts and haven't needed more than one. I brought a couple ties, and have only used one, and didn't really need it. I brought three pairs of dressy pants, and could have easily gotten away with one. What I have used are lots of socks and underwear, all of the jeans I brought, and most of the t shirts a few times. I also wish that I had brought the wire clothes hangers that you get from dry cleaners in the States that every person probably has 5 thousand of at their house. I bought clothes hangers in Buenos Aires, and they're a lot bigger, and space is an issue every time I have to pack. There are plenty of laundry places. Some are better than others. I know some people had big problems with shrunken clothes, but I don't think that happened to too many. If you hang your clothes and let them air out, as oppose to wadding them up or piling them or anything like that, you'd probably be surprised how long they'll lest without really seeming too warn. After hanging and aerating for a few days, they usually have no or few wrinkles and don't smell. Between aerating clothes and the availability of laundry places, you should need too much clothes. There are places with Wi-Fi, but internet connections are often pretty slow, by my standards, and sometime the Wi-Fi places are a little walk. The closest one to me was two blocks, Martinez Cafe on Uriarte and Santa Fe. There was also Wi-Fi in the Residencis, but I didn't know how to configure my mac for it. I think it worked fine on windows computers though. All internet connections I've experienced in south america, have been pretty slow though. It surprised me, I didn't think they'd be much different, but they are, and it's noticeable. The one thing I can think of that I wanted and expected to find, but couldn't, was good chewing gum. they have like two brands in Buenos Aires, Chiclets and Benodent or something like that. I bought Chiclets, but I would have really liked some big red, or juicy fruit, or just about any american chewing gum or bubble gum. I recommend (if you like gum as much as me, and lots of others in my group) to bring a lot of gum. I generally go through gum pretty quickly, so try to figure out how much you use in a month or however long you're spending in Buenos Aires, and buy more than that. if you're an entrepreneur, then maybe you could invest in a large quantity and sell it to other gum deprived americans, because I would have bought it. Lastly, the Brazilian consulate in Buenos Aires is not nice, so get your visa from the Brazilian consulate in Miami. Everyone I know who got their visa from the consulate in Miami (by mail) got a five year visa and had no trouble. Everyone I know who got their visa from the consulate in Buenos Aires got the exact number of days they are staying in brazil, or a couple more. One guy's visa runs out an hour after his flight is supposed to take off, and mine lasts for less than a day after I leave.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!