City life: Living in Buenos Aires

Things you should know

  1. Don’t pre-pay anything, no one returns money here
  2. The train tickets are defective, buy them when you are about to use them, don’t buy a card of many, the last ones won’t work. Then if you question the security who is always standing by, he will look at you and ask, ‘where did you buy it?’……..wtf?………………. Answer: In Argentina!
  3. The taxi drivers  are more foreign than the foreigners, and they all have poor vision; none of them know the city; they will go up the one way street and blast way past your destination, then tell you they didn’t see the numbers. Now they have to drive for ten more blocks to get around all the one-way streets. Always bring a map and have a good idea where you are going. Check the http://mapa.buenosaires.gov.ar/
  4. Don’t go into the supermarket with a bag, there is a bag bin in the front of the store for you to leave it. If you take it in, you will have the swat team on your tail…..they are not even slick…..but they think they are; or maybe they think you are stupid.
  5. Always ascertain the price of an item before you commit to it. The items have no prices, and many will quadruple depending upon your nationality.
  6. If you go to Uruguay and stop in Colonia, the café directly across from the port terminal has coffee, however, it may be the most expensive coffee you will ever have – $70 Uruguyan pesos.
  7. The bathrooms in all of the milongas, and many event places, have a fee
  8. During peak hours, the subte is insufferable; plan accordingly.
  9. Asking for directions is risky business, it is a 50/50 chance asking any pedestrian; they do not drive, so they have only a passing acquaintance with the streets and their names. They will put you off your course……again, bring your handy map.
  10. If you’ve learned Spanish in a school or in other places, and you begin to feel stupid here because you don’t understand what they are saying, it’s not you, it’s them. And don’t be intimidated by their rehearsed ‘are you stupid?’ stare…..it’s still not you, it’s them!
  11. The ATM machines will only dispense $1000 pesos per transaction. A (not so brilliant) move by the government to increase revenue (how exactly does that work?)This is set up so that they can make that premium every time you submit your card for more money. Know that your bank will also charge you an international fee in addition to what the machine indicates here. Essentially, you are paying everyone and their mother a fee to use the money that you placed into your account.
  12. Life shuts down on holidays and weekends; every month there is a long, four-day holiday, some months have more; plan accordingly. You can starve if you are not careful! Even the subte comes to a grinding halt on national holidays. The saving grace is that the buses run 24/7
  13. The buses take getting used to, they do not travel the same route in the opposite direction. The reverse direction may be one or two streets over, one way or the other.
  14. In many places, the bus stops are not marked, you just have to ‘know;’ even the mapa interactivo does not know. Very often the direction given is one block or so off the mark. You’ll soon get in the know! After you see a few buses zip by.
  15. Don’t bother running for the bus, unless you are actually standing at the stop when it gets there, the driver will not let you on; never mind he is sitting at the traffic light and you are banging away at the door, or wildly gesticulating, he still will not open the door, or even look in your direction; he is well practised at staring blankly into nothing.
  16. It is much easier to sail across the silt-laden waters of the Rio de La Plata than to overstay your visa welcome. They will charge you a price too painful for you to ever forget. And if you book online, at Busquebus or Seacat, you can find some very nice discounts.
  17. Everyone here will tell you they have French ancestors, or Italian; although, I still have a difficult time making the relationship……I just don’t see it!
  18. If you are a vegetarian, this is not the place to be; if Jenny Craig has proven unsuccessful for you with the weight loss program, then convert to a vegetarian diet, and coming here.
  19. When you arrive at Ezezia airport, the cambio will try to encourage you to change more money for a ‘discount.’ I think someone may have gone to school in August, I do not see the discount! Or maybe it is like the Emperor’s new clothes. On Avenida Florida (corner of Gral Peron y Florida) there is Banco Meridian that will change your money at the daily rate; at the cambio, you lose about 3-5% on your dollar. Even the cambios in Florida will give you a much better rate than at the airport. But then every one who travels know that the airport is a tourist trap.
  20. Check your change when paying at the subte register, they move very quickly and invariably give incorrect change; maybe not intentionally, but it happens. I think that their brain funcitons by rote and is therefore mechanical……and the configuration is set on stupid; they have difficulty when you go outside of the norm (single tickets), asking for two tickets with two trips really throws them!
  21. Don’t take things such as fax, scanning and printing from a jump drive for granted! If these things are integral to you, then life can really become interesting.
  22. The cell phone credit is on a monthly calendar, use it or lose it!