5. Cookies for breakfast?
If breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, someone forgot to tell the Argentines. For those of you used to consuming a healthy or substantial morning meal, I’m sorry to tell you that there is no such thing in Argentina. Your new options include coffee, croissants, cigarettes and cookies. Yes, cookies. Little sugary Oreo style cookies. I suppose all the children of the world should be envious of the lucky Argentine kids. As terrible as this sounds to an eat a meal only consisting of the Argentine favorite food groups – sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates – you get used to it. You also probably get diabetes.
You scrambled eggs eaters probably think that sounds disgusting, but they think eating eggs for breakfast is disgusting.
4. Waking up in the City that never sleeps…
Growing up I had a strict 8:30 bedtime. In college I preferred to stay up all night and nap after class, and now I like to go to bed around 10:30. I’ve heard New York is the city that never sleeps, but Buenos Aires really gives the Big Apple a run for its money. Dinner is served at 10, and no one goes out until after 12. Clubs are open all night long, and are full of customers until after the sun has risen. In my old age I no longer possess the energy and stamina to party until the sunrise, which sometimes makes me feel like I am taking this city for granted. Night owls rejoice, Buenos Aires is your little piece of heaven.
3. Proud to be an American!
“De donde sos?” Asks the Argentine. (Where are you from?)
“Soy Americano” says the naïve tourist, who may not understand why this response will get them a snarky reaction like “yo tambien” (me too).
Guess what people, when Christopher Columbus found the new world and named it America – he was referring to two entire continents. Believe it or not, ‘America’ expands beyond the US borders, so a better answer to this question would be ‘Los Estados Unidos’. Argentines also refer to the USA as “Yanquilandia” or ‘Yankee Land’, and to Americans as ‘Yankees’ or ‘yanquis’.
Sometimes I will answer ‘Norte Americano’, but I suppose that doesn’t really specify if I am Mexican or Canadian or a ‘Yanqui’.
Although countless tourists visit Argentina every year, when they ask you where you are from, do not assume that they already know that you are from the USA and are asking you which city. Responding with “The Bay Area” is going to get you some blank stares. There are a lot of bays you California-centrics.
In high school couples caught kissing in the hall in between classes would be written up by teachers for a ‘PDA’ violation, or public display of affection.
In Argentina it is customary to greet with a kiss, but the affection certainly doesn’t stop there. Couples suck each other’s lips off in the subway, holding each other tightly, staring into each other’s eyes and whispering love confessions as if there were no one else in the room. Couples in parks snuggle and make out on benches, and young mistresses fawn over and cling to their much older and seemingly disinterested sugar daddies. Parents smother their young children with kisses and hugs. I was horrified when Lucas kissed me in front of his mother, but she didn’t even bat an eye.
My mother however, I’m sure will be rather shocked, and maybe even offended by the publicly amorous nature of the Argentines. But we Yanquis are rather cold, aren’t we?
1. Say goodbye to your bubble.
I visited the Starbucks in the Abasto shopping center during my first week in Buenos Aires. Being an odd hour, Starbucks was almost empty, which is unusual for the very popular coffee destination. I stood behind the customer who was ordering, giving them a generous three feet of personal space. As I waited, a young couple entered the shop and stood in line behind me, groping and pawing each other as they perused the pastries in the cold case. As they lined up behind me, the literally stood less than 4 inches away from me. I cringed. I could smell them, hear them breathing, and feel their body heat. They stood so close to me! I defensively crossed my arms, and stepped away. Oblivious to my unhidden discomfort of their presence, they just stepped closer. I shot them an irritated look, and put my foot out, trying to physically barricade them from getting any closer. Unphased and enamored, they continued to stay close to me, despite the fact that the almost empty Starbucks had PLENTY of room for them to stand further away from me. I started to feel like I had some sort of social anxiety disorder because of my extreme discomfort of a stranger’s presence in my ‘personal bubble’. I got my coffee and got the hell out of there.
After spending a few more days in crowded places, I realized that my personal bubble was a spacious luxury of my homeland, where there is more space to spare. Argentines have no personal bubble and never seem to mind being close to others. In a crowded city of 13million, I suppose no one has a choice.