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9 Inevitable Side Effects of Living in Buenos Aires

by Sorcha O'Higgins Feb 18, 2015

1. You will become a walking contradiction.

Portenos are walking contradictions, constructed from a fabric that only those who spend a certain amount of time in the city will understand. And it rubs off. After two years you will be a lean, mean, exercising machine, but will smoke like a chimney straight after your workout. You will stay out until seven in the morning on a Saturday having nursed one Fernet and Coke for the whole night. You will be in a ‘committed’ relationship, but anyone who takes your fancy is still fair game. The only thing thing that is not to be trifled with is your dedication to your football team. Faltering on that is akin to treason.

2. When it rains you will cancel everything.

You know when you wake up in the morning and it’s pissing rain and you’ve got a meeting scheduled that you can’t possibly miss — yet the thing you want most in world, even more than to spoon Ryan Gosling or Angelina Jolie, is to cancel the fucking thing and roll over in a comfy slumber? Well, living in Buenos Aires gives you a free pass to be flaky as fuck whenever it rains. I’ve shown up to yoga classes that haven’t been on because the teacher has bailed because of some drizzle, or had tours cancelled because of some trifling spring shower. Long live the wet excuse for a duvet day at any cost!

3. Economic crises will no longer faze you.

Argentines are used to living in an economic vortex, where two drastically different dollar exchange rates and 40% inflation are the norm. It may take a while to come to grips with these fiscal fluctuations, and as a tourist you may spend your entire holiday bamboozled by the country’s monetary anomalies. But once you live here a while, economic stability would just be plain dull. Where would we be if we didn’t have the constantly rising prices of milk and alfajores to keep us on our toes?

4. You will buy in bulk and freeze everything.

Ever notice how everything is priced per kilo? Pastries, apples, rice — you name it, everything is measured in bulk. Buying just one milanesa?! Are you crazy?! Buy three kilos and feed yourself, your kids and your extended family for a month. Freezing foodstuffs is a by-product of buying in bulk, and Argentines are fastidious about this. Everything must be separated by plastic sheets and stored in numerous Tupperware containers. The next time you visit an Argentine’s house, check out the freezer. I guarantee you mountains of food will be chilling there like they were packed by Germans.

5. You will make having ice a priority in summer.

Segueing nicely into freezing is the Argentine efficiency when it comes to hielo, or ice. It gets so hot in the summer here that the water running from the cold tap is warm, so you gotta be on it to have a refreshing beverage. Cue a freezer full of empty ice-cream containers filled with ice-cubes, the trays replenished with newly frozen H2O so no one’s drink will ever be tepid again. (People also refrigerate red wine in summer. Heresy in other cultures, not so in Argentina.)

6. Your concept of time will alter radically.

Remember before you lived in Buenos Aires how plans were made and stuck to? No? That’s because you’re view of time, space, and everything in between has been so skewed by living here that you probably don’t even know what year it is. Trying buying a coffee at 8am. No dice. Trying eating dinner at 6pm. You will be laughed at and called a “gringo.” Try showing up on time for something and end up waiting for 45 minutes like a loser. Because that’s what you are. Get on board with being late. It’s liberating.

7. You will see a therapist.

Ahhhh, therapy. The cornerstone of every dysfunctional society. Argentina is stuck in this weird identity-bending crisis of technically being Latin American, but associating more with the European immigrants that graced its shores at the end of the 19th century. That, coupled with the city’s chaos, means that everyone is in therapy. Argentina has more shrinks per capita than any other country. So go figure.

8. You will only date people who live in Capital.

You live in Provincia? Chau, suerte.

9. You will never want to leave.

For all its insanity, Buenos Aires is one charming motherfucker. Constantly evolving, for better or worse, people get stuck here, literally, for decades. They come for a month to learn “Spanish” and BOOM, next thing you know they have a bike, a job, and a whole other family thanks to whatever local they’ve shacked up with. Lax visa regulations also make it difficult to get kicked out, so there’s no reason to leave. Is there, boludo?

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