Sometime back in December, not long after arriving in Buenos Aires to live for 5.5 months, I wrote this text below and had given it this title – my how things have changed – or have they…
What you can learn about Buenos Aires in a week
That said I think it’s a little harder than that. From my discoveries you don’t want to go through rental companies here unless you are staying for quite some time and work can work on a better contract. Otherwise they charge you two months commission straight off, plus a 1 month deposit and sometimes extra expenses.
Even better they ask you to secure your property against the rental – seems nuts to me since I’m here to rent and if I owned a property I’d live in it.
I’ve been using Craigslist to deal direct with owners so you don’t have all those silly charges and friend of friends who have rooms or apartments available.
1 bedroom apmt in the more touristy areas seem the most common thing to rent and they aren’t really less than $700 US per month all expenses and utilities included.
Taxis seem cheap to me, $5-7 US for a 15-25 minute journey. Buses are dead cheap and pretty regular and there’s the subway. Driving is crazy here – might get a scooter when I figure out how not to get killed but will more likely bike cos I love it.
3 Months on and what have I learned?
Well once I got my own lovely studio things were looking up and I absolutely love living there in a great area, small pool, nice and private and close to lots of things but not in the touristy area. In fact I shot a video giving you a tour of it here.
I started practicing my non existent Spanish. I got private lessons with the lovely Melinda who suffered through two hours of speaking for 2-3 days a week with me until we could have proper conversations.
From there it was great to achieve minor breakthroughs every day like a Taxi Driver understanding my directions, a shop owner figuring out what I was ordering and for me understanding 40-50% of their response. Progress!
I have to admit that my initial thoughts about Buenos Aires and Argentina have changed quite a lot. Despite what I thought this is third world baby – as my Argentinian friend likes to say.
This means I’ve had more frustrations than moments of joy and my patience is running low right now. Even my sister agrees. In trying to find a battery for her Sony Camera yesterday she went to an official Sony store – did they have them? No of course not.
When trying to get a cream for some bug bites at a pharmacy she got told they couldn’t help and she should go to the hospital!
It’s not ideal for managing my business either. Here’s a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly – in my opinion
20 Things to Love and Hate About Argentina (or the A-V)
- The empanadas are delicious and my new favourite thing plus the Mate (a strong tea)
- Cider, beer and wine is dirt cheap in supermarkets
- Taxis are cheap and public transport is a steal
- You’re constantly aware of being mugged or pickpocketed
- Porteno Spanish (that of Buenos Aires) has a lot of nuances found nowhere else
- Wifi is becoming available in more cafes but it’s ridiculously slow and unreliable*
- The street markets are full of unique goods and amazing art
- Coffee is tasty and the mini medialunas for desayuno (breakfast) are common place
- Food here is on the whole pretty boring and I miss spicy foods
- Service in general – more in shops, generally sucks. Work ethic is not in their dictionary
- Things don’t make sense – why can you buy a sim card at a major cell network but load credit on it?
- The tango is a mesmerizing dance that’s much harder to learn then you think
- The temperate climate and hot summer is right up my alley
- People seem to love animals and even streets dogs and cats are well looked after
- The Argentinian people are quite a proud and elegant race if not a little serious and moody
- Did I mention the wifi sucks – 15MB would cost you US $150 to buy
- Infrastructure in this country is poor and the officials are corrupt
- You can find music, theatre and dance here every day in many different styles
- The Argentinians know the meaning of relaxed and not being on time (which helps me)
- Argentinian TV is on the whole tacky but thankfully good for learning Spanish!
- Barely nowhere takes a credit card over which is unbelievable and withdrawl fees are US$4
- People accept you into their family here and are welcoming
Ok so that’s a very rough overview of all my experiences combined. I have more tales to tell including incredible photos and video from Patagonia where Debbie and I just spent an amazing 10 days hiking.
PS this *refers to the fact that it took me 6 hours to upload a 20 minute video the other day in Patagonia and the internet cut out while it was processing so I lost it all. It’s episodes like that that make me question my sanity.
PPS while writing this in a cafe the internet cut out and I lost some of my post, the next cafe couldn’t get their wifi working and the third one also cut out. Finally found a reliable one with great Spanish Tortilla.