I was lucky to live on the other continent for a whole month. Going on a business trip to Buenos Aires, I did not expect that Argentina will make such a strong impression on me: both positive and negative. But, anyway, it was an interesting and useful experience.
Slums, crime and homeless people
The first impression of Argentina was a bit sad. On the eve of the trip, we were warned to protect personal things and equipment. They were right. For a month in Buenos Aires, many of our delegation lost something. Someone did not return the forgotten clothes in the taxi, someone lost the camera. Forgetful people are everywhere. But when the laptop disappears right from the hotel room for an hour of dinner – this is too much. Victims of this theft begged the police at least to question the guests of the hotel in search of a thief. “We have no right, the hotel room is already a private territory,” the guards of the order waved their hands. And one couple ran into an armed macho literally under the windows of the hotel, and returned back without a phone, jacket and 1000 bucks. Such stories force tourists not to go alone to the street without the need. But in fact you need to know where to walk.
One day a group of our tourists, looking for an interesting object on the map, accidentally wandered into the area of the capital’s slums. The local policeman was more frightened than tourists and explained them that even the guards of the law did not go there. He caught a taxi and sent the onlookers back to the hotel at his own expense.
The slum district, which starts in Buenos immediately after the elite office centers, even from the window of the car looks terrible. Although the local people are quietly reacting to strange buildings without a roof. Living in such houses is a big saving. There is no roof, which means that there is no home, that is, there is no need to pay taxes.
There are a lot of such freeloaders in the parks, and on the avenues in the city center. They are happy and affable. They sleep between the roots of a huge eucalyptus, drink the soup brought by the social workers and do not worry about anything.
Architecture, cleanliness and luxury
The center of Buenos Aires impresses with others things. The city is more like a European one. Moreover, the blending of architectural styles does not spoil the overall picture. The central street “July 9” is known to the whole world for its width – 140 meters. Four streams of cars are moving along it, in each of which there are from four to six lanes.
I was lucky to live in the heart of the capital, in the old district of San Telmo. It is known as the birthplace of tango. At the beginning of the last century, painters, artists and creative intellectuals lived here. But the elite was forced to leave their posh apartments because of the yellow fever. Emigrants from around the world quickly occupied free living space. But the district has not lost its spirit: the houses have a pristine appearance, the old dance halls and the picturesque antiques market have been preserved.
But that old elite created a new district in the capital. It’s not scary to walk alone in Recoleta. Clean streets, expensive boutiques and, of course,.. a cemetery. This is a place where the Argentine nobility lies in magnificent crypts. Locals say without exaggeration that “it is cheaper to live luxuriously than to be buried in the cemetery of Recoleta”. One of the most visited crypts is the tomb of a famous singer Carlos Gardel. There is also crypt of Eva Perron – the wife of President Perron, his first adviser and the standard of Argentine beauty.
Many tourists are afraid to stroll through the narrow streets of the cemetery. But the fear disappears at the sight of this beauty. Each crypt is a separate architectural masterpiece; there is no smell, although the bodies rest without cremation for hundreds of years. The decoration of the “last” rooms is amazing. There is the whole world inside of them – things, photographs, documents of the deceased…
Also I want to tell you a bit about another unique corner of Buenos – La Boca. This old Italian port district is very simple and fun. Each house has its own color. And it was not at all part of any special project. The poor inhabitants of the block could not paint their miserable houses in noble colors and used the remnants of cheap ship paints.
The stadium of the legendary team “Boca Juniors” is also mottled. There are many shops and cafes along the pedestrian Caminito Street. The barkers try to impress with the knowledge of different languages and brag about the banknotes of tourists from all over the world. And right on the paving stones, which are heating up on the sun even in the spring, people around-the-clock dance tango.
Soup only in the winter and wine is exceptionally young
Argentines are very sporting people. They play football wherever possible. In the parks of elite districts there are bicycle, roller, skate rental offices. Horse polo and golf are very popular here too.
When you see a crowd running in the morning, you are no longer surprised by the huge portions of food in the cafe. With such appetites, people just need to put their calories somewhere. One dish is enough to feed three people. Although the meal is not always delicious. They do not put salt and sauce in salads, bringing it separately. But the meat is unusually tasty even without spices.
It’s almost impossible to find soup in the menu. It turns out that the Argentines eat it only in the winter. Once they wanted to please us and treated us to a pumpkin puree soup. Pumpkin is on the second place here after meat. It is necessary to do something with it. Argentines make teapots for mate from the pumpkin, and a variety of casseroles from the flesh. And if you ordered a puree in the cafe and did not specify which one, you will definitely be served pumpkin puree.
Delicious chocolate is sold only in specialty stores by weight for 20 bucks per kilogram. But the bakery in Buenos is excellent. Due to it the female part of our delegation became fatter for 2-3 kg.
As for alcohol, whiskey and wine are more popular. It is customary in Argentina to drink young wine, from a new harvest of grapes from the Malvek district. It is very delicious! And it costs only 8 dollars for a bottle.
In general, the prices for food in Argentina are quite acceptable. Clothes are also inexpensive. The skin clothes are especially popular. For example, you can buy a jacket made from rough buffalo skin for $ 125; boots are even cheaper, especially during the spring discounts on winter shoes.
Living in this country also is inexpensive. For example, for 8 days in Buenos Aires (with accommodation, meals and excursions) travel agents ask just 595 euros. But the one way flight for Europeans from another continent can cost almost 800 dollars.
Lazy workers, but hot macho
In general, the Argentine people are special. They do not hurry anywhere and are always happy with everything.
“Settle us, please. We flew 17 thousand kilometers, we are hungry, dirty and very evil, “- told we to the hotel administrator. She smiled, nodded her head and asked us to wait until 14:00, when they start settling. Lunch for the inhabitants of Buenos Aires is holy time. “Wait, I have not drunk my tea yet,” – said to us a bus driver, sipping green liquid. And he was doing it for an hour, until dinner is over.
The most hardworking people in Buenos Aires are the Chinese. They open their supermarkets even on weekends, and are ready to race to the end of the world to please the client.
Visiting a zoo or some museum on the weekend is not possible – everything is closed. But the closure of the subway on a working day at 18:00 was not just surprising, but discouraging.
In the rest with the Argentines can be reconciled. They are very sociable and inquisitive people. Almost every passer-by, hearing an unfamiliar language, will ask where you come from, and try to show the knowledge of the history of your country. Argentines speak English very badly, sometimes even in banks we had to communicate in sign language.
In spite of their calm attitude to work, the Argentines are very temperamental. The men’s attention to the opposite sex on the street was even frightening. Drivers are ready to throw themselves out of the car window when they see a blonde, and pedestrians are generous with compliments.
This is such a bright and peculiar Argentina. I think it will become a special exemplar in your collection of travel.