5 Things That Still Shock Me – Even After a Year and a Half

Time flies when you’re living in South America.  I got a huge, slap in the face culture shock when I arrived to Buenos Aires, and it took a long time to adjust to the sting.  Even after having spent over a year and a half here, there are still a few things that never fail to shock, upset or pleasantly surprise me.  Here are the top five.

5. Gordita is a term of affection

Nothing is quite as affectionate as a nickname, and the weirder the name, the more affectionate.  My mother calls me ‘mugwumple’.  Most of my close friends call me ‘Vini’ ‘Vini-Weeny’, ‘Vives’ or something along those lines.  But the first time that my (now ex) boyfriend called me ‘mi gordita linda‘ I got very upset!  For those of you non Spanish speakers, ‘gorda’ means fat.  So Lucas was basically calling me ‘pretty lil fatty’.  He was shocked at my reaction (crying…obviously) and tried to explain to me that ‘gordita’ is an affectionate pet name, like ‘sweetie’ or ‘hunny’.  Frankly I still have a hard time believing that ‘fatty’ is a term of affection, but at least now I don’t act offended when a well meaning old lady calls me that.

4. Plastic Surgery is No Big Deal

I cannot emphasize the commonality of bad plastic surgery in Buenos Aires.  Why do I say it is bad?  My rule of thumb when it comes to plastic surgery is this: if I can tell you’ve had something done – it’s bad.  Many people have not one but several obvious procedures.  I often wonder what they looked like before, and if they think looking like they’ve been injected with hard plastic looks good?  I don’t get it.  Older women of Buenos Aires: we like you the way you are!  Please stop mutilating yourselves…you look scary.  Did no one tell you?  Beauty is on the inside.

3. Recycle?!

Buenos Aires streets are filled with promoters handing out small paper advertisement flyers for everything from restaurant menus, classes, or sales.  Of course everyone takes the paper that is shoved in their face and then instantly throws it on the ground.  The result of this – litter.  Everywhere.  No one seems to care about recycling, or maybe considering a more affective advertising approach in the first place.  Sorry, environment.

2. Good Dogs

When I was a kid I got bit by a big dog once.  Ever since I’ve been a little wary of these four legged creatures.  I can’t help it, getting bit is traumatic.  But dogs in Buenos Aires are so mild mannered and well behaved!  In my time here I have never seen a dog fight.  I do see numerous unleashed pets roaming the streets and happy dogs playing together in the dog parks.  When I walk my landlord’s dog – Nube – I never use a leash.  People stop all the time to pet her and the attention doesn’t phase her.  Strangers don’t seem the least bit intimidated to pet a strange dog, or let their children approach one.  Probably because they don’t have the dog bite childhood trauma like me.  Dogs of BA – you are the best.  I want one.

1. Inflation

25% inflation is just an average day in Argentina.  It isn’t uncommon to see prices on things like groceries change on a daily basis.  Local companies almost never post prices on their websites, because they would have to change them constantly.  Locals ask for raises to match inflation which just continues to drive inflation further and further.  It is a mess, and very frustrating to live with.  Every time prices go up, it never fails to shock me.

What shocks you in Buenos Aires?


About MyBeautifulAir

Wherever I go, there I am.
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16 Responses to 5 Things That Still Shock Me – Even After a Year and a Half

  1. Julio says:

    It is preety offensive is someone calls me pumpkin…wich means zapallo. And zapallo is a very dull person

    • interesting!! yeah pumpkin is a sweet nickname in english. funny!

      • Julio says:

        The same way is in Argentina gordito, gordi, negri, negrito. That is called a different culture, by the way if someone calls me sweetypie or honey ( dulce pastelito o miel…miel!!!) I could laugh out loud. Truly!

  2. Seriously all 5 of those baffle me and I’ve been traveling back and forth from South America for almost a decade!!! And I REFUSE to let my Porteno call my gordita.

  3. Hi Vina,
    My mother called me UGLY # !. That is better than UGLY #2.
    It is time to repatriate. We are having a BBQ on 19 August at 6:00. Brisket, ribs, beans and cole slaw!

  4. Margo Barton says:

    Great post…all so true! I also think children here are well-behaved (compared to what I’m used to seeing in the US).

  5. Julio says:

    Why don’t you stop criticize our culture, and try to learn something. Go watch the last Woody Allen film…

  6. After almost 6 years living in BA, I still get shocked when seeing how people lose all their good manners in public transportation, i just hate it.

    And after almost 29 years living in Argentina, I’m still shocked about how obsesive argentinians can be about their look. Have you noticed how almost every single person looks at his/her reflection in mirrors, shop windows, even in puddles? That’s just crazy. And, well, it’s related to the fact that plastic surgery is a common thing around here.

  7. Alexa says:

    I was just explaining the Spanish pet names to my mom after #5 shocked me while at dinner with my boyfriend’s family. It’s so different!

  8. kvolman says:

    It shocks me that people walk their dog WITHOUT a leash. Sorry, but I hate dogs and it really bothers me to have to walk by one on the street and sometimes they sniff at you with their slobbery, dumb mouth and more often than not, their owners are a block behind them not even paying attention. I have actually seen several dog fights and they are usually caused by leashless dogs. ahh! Just had to rant about that a bit.
    I do agree about inflation, it’s soooooo annoying! I sometimes think that stores raise their prices just because they can. Case in point: Esquina de las Flores in Palermo. Less than a year ago, a packet of tofu was 9pesos….I went this weekend at it’s now 17pesos!! What the…??

  9. Becker says:

    I dont see the problem with the name “gordita.”

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