We’ve been here for a month now and we’re settled in for the most part, so now I can give you an accurate picture of what it’s like to live here.
Buenos Aires is on the Atlantic coast and is the second biggest city in South America. What sets it apart from every other city on the continent is around 90% of people who live here had ancestors that immigrated from Europe, mostly in the 20th century, so the city is extremely European.
After spending the first 10 days here in questionable AirBnbs, we successfully navigated the stress-inducing process of renting property and landed a nice, furnished, one bedroom apartment. It’s in a small building on a quiet street int he posh part of the city, but keep in mind that the standards for “posh” down here are lower than in the U.S. Perhaps the best part about the apartment is that it goes for less than half the price of a comparable apartment in any major city in the U.S. Perhaps the worst part is it doesn’t have a dryer, which I never truly appreciated until now. But it comes with a housekeeper who comes every week, so life isn’t that bad.
My favorite part of the city, and the part we live in, is called Palermo. It’s the neighborhood with the most expats because there are countless cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, and it’s safe and relatively clean.
We live a 20 second walk from a bakery, which we go to more often than I’d like to admit. And we live a 10 second walk to a “Chino,” which is a small grocery store typically run by people of Asian descent. (Don’t blame me, that’s what they’re called). Between these two places and an infinite amount of shops and restaurants within a 5-block radius, I sometimes find it hard to think of a reason to leave our immediate area. I sometimes don’t even leave the house for days because delivery is huge here. There are no delivery fees and tipping isn’t really a thing, so why get dressed and leave when I could have someone bring food right to my doorstep? I thought living in Latin America would be hard, but I forgot it’s 2016.
Speaking of eating, they do it late here. Lunch at around 2, dinner at around 10. We pretty much follow that schedule. What do we eat? Well on every corner, you can find a place that sells empanadas, the most common food here. It’s basically a doughy pastry filled with something. Meat, chicken, vegetables, corn, cheese, onions, etc. I think the reason I was put on this Earth is to eat empanadas, which I do with regularity.
When I do leave the house, I have to speak Spanish. Argentina is notorious for having an accent that’s hard to understand. They also use slightly different grammar and vocabulary as the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. I’m slowly adapting to the dialect, but it’s definitely the biggest challenge of living here. If I was 60% fluent when I studied abroad in Spain, I’m 25% here.
Getting around is easy. Buenos Aires has the oldest metro system in South America, as well as an intricate bus system that everyone uses. We live a 15 minute walk to the nearest metro stop, so we’ve been trying to learn the complex bus system. I think we almost understand it. In the meantime, we’ve been taking taxis and Ubers to most places, which usually costs around the same as a D.C. metro ticket.
Spring is in full bloom and the weather is heating up, so Aeriel and I have started doing the all the touristy things in the city we’ve been waiting to do. A few days ago, we went downtown and walked along the widest street in the world.