Observations From Living In Buenos Aires

I haven’t blogged in probably almost a month. Why? Because I settled into Buenos Aires life and found myself “living” rather than exploring or travelling. More on this later.

This is all because as it turns out, living in a country 8000 kms away can actually be good for business. I’m reminded of Tim Ferriss’ “The Four Hour Work Week” book and how his first workcation was initially feared for that his business might fail. It was able to succeed and grow.

In many ways, so has mine thanks to….

Ayoooooo Technology

Technology has allowed me to stay very connected to my clients. It’s also allowed me to contact any potential clients who have found my company website.

Skype is where it’s at if you are out of country and need a good long distance package. Your Skype phone uses your cell number so people you are calling from Skype see your cell number on their call display. The downfall is you need a stable internet connection. This won’t work if you are using data roaming when out and about on your cell.

For me I’ve been able to make calls from my apartment without paying Bell $3 a minute. Instead, Skype is charging me $.07 a minute. F*** Bell and Canadian communication companies out there.

Ok enough back story. I was going to title this post “Observations On Living In Buenos Aires & Argentina” but since I haven’t seen the rest of Argentina, I’ll keep it to BA. I’m going to get around to writing a full summary of my time in BA when I get motivated. For right now this post will do.

Here are my random observations.

A Crosswalk Mean Nothing To Drivers

So crosswalks down here are meaningless. In Canada and I’m sure just about every country out there, when you are walking and approaching a crosswalk, most cars will stop to let you cross the street. Not in Buenos Aires though!

I learnt that my first night here. Thankfully I was with a local who told me only to cross when no cars where near.

Keep your head in when walking in Buenos Aires

Two Lanes Means Three Lanes

While on driving, two lanes down here means three lanes. Thankfully I have not and will not drive down here. Because invisible lanes exist!

Many Drivers Honk Their Horns For The Hell Of It

If the light is red and 20 cars a stopped, you can bet 10 of those cars will start honking their horn. It all starts when one person honks then social proof kicks in and everyone else decides to honk their horn. When at a big intersection and the cross the street sign is green for pedestrians, you can bet there will be cars honking at the pedestrians walking across the street even when they are allowed to!

Dogs Bark Endlessly

I guess the owners also leave their dogs outside and alone for long periods of time because they’re non barking. Once one dog starts, more join in. Kind of like drivers honking! Anyways, it’s annoying and has woken me up early on few occasions. That’s the deal when you live in a big city where everyone is so close to eachother!

Dog Owners Hardly Clean Up Shit

I’m reminded of running across the street with Adam and Erin and Nice years ago. The grassy median was evidently meant “Dog bathroom”! It was never cut and you always had to dodge the crap but it was hard since the grass is long.

In Buenos Aires there are no grassy medians. Where’s a dog to shit then? In the street of course! Not many owners clean up the shit though.


Walk With Your Head Down

Outside of dog shit, the lack of maintenance to the sidewalks has really cut into my time looking at beautiful women. You must at all times keep your head down on you run the risk of a rolled ankle. Tape those ankles like basketball players before you head out!

Image courtesy of Art Of Adventuring

Girls Wear Platform Shoes From The 90’s

Back To Future?! Girls wore these back in middle school. But they’re back and a huge fashion piece on 2015.

Platform Shoes Argentina

Parents Take Young Kids To Late Dinners & Drinks

A couple of weeks back my roomies and I went out for dinner and drinks. We ended up at bar call Soria. I ordered my drink and peeped my head around the corner and saw a baby girl (maybe 18 months old) sleeping in a stroller, unattended. This wasn’t an isolated occurrence. I’ve seen kids out at dinners sometimes until 1 AM.

Servers Don’t Keep Asking You If You “Want Another?”

Back home servers make their money on tips. The more the bill is, the more the tip. Alcohol is one way to build the bill and tip up. That doesn’t happen down here. If your drink is done, it’ll sit there until you ask for another. Because of this, I’ve yet to see someone extremely drunk at a restaurant or bar.

Enjoy Time After Dinner To Chat

When out eating dinner, once you are done it is common to sit around and chat. In many cases, you don’t get asked by the servers if you want dessert or another drink. So you sit there and enjoy the conversation. To me this seems like such a contradiction from they way they drive. Their in a hurry when on the road but not when their eating dinner.

Be Prepared To Wait For Table

Many restaurants don’t do resos. Fair enough. This means you show up and put your name down. But because of the above observation, be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. Since the server isn’t politely telling you leave by putting the bill on the table, you can sit without feeling you have to order anything else. It’s their culture I know. But the business side of me can’t help but think the turn over ratio is too low.

Not Many Restaurants Can Cook Steak

For all the praise I’ve heard about the meat, they sure don’t know how to cook them. Out of the 10 steaks I’ve had, one has been what I asked for. Everything comes overcooked and dry. This has caused me to order lots of pasta and chicken. Tip of the hat to Campo Bravo in Las Canitas for their Pollo al Vino. Best meal I’ve had here.

Alcohol and Taxis Are Cheap

I could have six beers when out and take a 15 minute taxi home here for the equivalent of $40 CDN. A 15 minute cab back home is close to $40. For the record, I’ve only been drunk once and I wasn’t even that drunk, I swear!

Food Is Relatively Cheap

I can count on one hand the amount of dinners I made for myself. Why would I cook for myself when I can eat out for a cost of 30%-50% more? It’s that and I haven’t trusted the grocery stores with their produce or meat since I first got here. But most good meals have cost me $10 to $25 CDN. This is about 25%-50% cheaper than back home.

Clothes Are Not Cheap

I was planning on buying some shorts as it’s fall down here but clothes are not cheap. As an example, this pair of Nike’s at the Blue Dollar rate would be $160 Canadian. I paid $125 for the same pari but different color at MEC last September.

Nikes in Buenos Aires

Towels Are Not Cheap

Due to a Volcano just Chile which blew a bunch of ash into Bariloche, my trip was cancelled. This forced me to stay in the place in Las Canitas as Nico had the room rented for the month but was in Brazil. The lady who we rented the room off cleaned his room and took all the towels. This forced me to find a towel and I spent 4 hours one day looking for one. As I was about to give up, I found one…..but for $360 Pesos or $36 Canadian! I gave up but on my way home I found one for $76 Pesos which as thin as paper.

Expensive towels in Buenos Aires

People Are Addicted To Their Phones

Perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t have data down here, but my face is not buried in my phone. This means I can observe and people watch. What I see is a that people down here (young and old) are addicted to their phones. At dinner or on the street, they are always looking at their phone. I would say it’s worse here than back home.

They Love Selfies

I was amazed at how obsessed with selfies they are. One day while walking through a park I observed a women who must have took 15 different selfies! They even have a mural with a women taking a selfie!

Smokers Everywhere

This must be the French culture of sister city Paris kicking in but lots of people smoke here. That and the fact that you can get 10 cigs for $3 CDN here.

The City Is Safe

I never once felt unsafe my entire time there. Any local I meet told me to watch myself no matter where I went. I’d tell them I had been to a few areas of the city at night and they would tell me not to go there again as it was unsafe. Obviously I didn’t walk down an sketchy streets in dark.

Graffiti Everywhere

The city and building owners could care less about graffiti. It’s a shame because it really makes the city look less attractive and in ways unsafe despite what I said above. I’m reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” in where he talks about how NYC was able to clean up it’s act and cut down on crime. He believes it was due to the clean up and graffiti so that the broken windows theory was no longer in play.

Street Police Are Everywhere

Ok not every street corner but they setup shop on foot at about every 3rd or 4th block. I did not see one altercation during my trip. This definitely mad me feel safe.

There Are Ice Cream Shops On Every Street Corner

Not only are Police on almost every corner, but they’re are also Ice Cream shops on almost every corner! I am not lying about! They love their Ice Cream is BsAs and that’s evident by the amount of chain and mom and pop shops. Thanks to Sophie who tipped me on this place in Belgrano which had the best flavor, Dulce De Leche Con Banada Split.

Dulche de leche con banana split

Parking Lots Have Warning Lots

Due to the mass amount of condo’s and apartments, there are a lot of parking lots. What’s cool is that they have warning lights and sounds when a car is pulling in our out of the lot.

Buenos Aires Parking Warning Lots

Street Parking Is Free

Everywhere in the city, street parking is free but tough to come by!

Civilians Help You Finding Parking Spots

Because street parking is free and tough to come by, civilians can help divers finding parking speeds. These civilians have a name and they call then Torpedos. They will flag an open spot on a street and help you park. On bust nights the cops don’t care if you double park and the Torpedo’s will get you to put your can in neutral so they can roll your car if you are blocking someone from getting out.

The Chinos

There are a few chain grocery stores but all the small super markets are owned by Chinese. They don’t say hi, bye or thanks and could give a shit about you. It’s also different hearing Chinese speak in Spanish.

Bright City With LEDs

I love lighting. This is probably due to my time working at an electrical wholesaler. Buenos Aires has bight street lights powered by LED. This brightens the city up and night with a cool blue color.

Apparently the city switched 120 000 street lights to Philip LEDs saving 50% of energy. Good on you city of BA! If you live in Victoria and drive through the Foul Bay and Landsdowne or Saanich Rd and Tattersall junction at night, you’ll notice how bright they are. This surely helps drivers see pedestrians better at night.

I love Canada but seriously, how can we say we are focused on energy consumption when almost all of the country is still using high pressure sodium or metal hallide lamps?

Well that does it. Eventually I’ll get around to writing a full summary of my time in Buenos Aires. For right now this post provides a good idea of the city and culture is like.

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