1. Leaving in a “bomba de humo.”
Doing a “bomba de humo,” or “smoke bomb,” is leaving a party without saying goodbye to anyone. Also known as an Irish Exit, what may be acceptable in the Emerald Isle is a big No-No in Buenos Aires. Vanishing without doing the rounds of kissing everyone farewell, even those you don’t know lurking among your friend group, will leave people thinking you are rude and they will definitely take you up on it the next time they see you. Just suck it up and say “Chau” to anyone and everyone. It’ll keep you on the right side of wrong.
2. Crossing paths with someone you know in a telo.
Telos are pay-per-hour hotels that people go to to…well, you know. It’s not uncommon for these to be used at all times of the day, usually for people who are indulging in a bit of adultery. So needless to say, running into someone you know in the car park or reception of a telo can make for a red-faced encounter, especially if it’s a relative or the significant other of a friend, in which case it can cause more than embarrassment. So play it safe and don’t go to the one across the road from your office. Duh.
3. Getting hammered.
Getting super drunk IS NOT THE DONE THING in Buenos Aires. Sure, people party til 6am midweek, but they do it nursing one Fernet and Coke for the entire night. You won’t see people wrapped around lamp posts, puking in the street or getting into bar brawls. This kind of cringeworthy behaviour is reserved for American college students, the Irish, and Australians, and it’s looked down upon here. Argentines maintain a dignified composure when they dabble in drinking, so avoid being the drunkest one at the party, because people will remember and you’ll be known as “el/la borracho/a” for the rest of your days.
4. Dressing inappropriately in “winter.”
“Winter” in Buenos Aires usually constitutes sunny days with temperatures that average about 12 or 15 degrees Celsius, i.e. not fucking cold. This isn’t Canada people, it’s not necessary to bulk up with sheepskin parkas and ski masks. However, leaving the house in anything less than 5 layers of clothes and sturdy freeze-proof boots will result in sideways glances and outburst of “No tenes frio?!” from gobsmacked natives, shocked at how foreigners from less forgiving climates can possibly fathom that the weather in winter is anything less than baltic.
5. Following through on plans made when it rains.
Be warned: when it rains, people do nothing. So forget actually showing up to any plans that were made before it started raining. Lunch with the girls? You’ll arrive and the restaurant will be closed. Paintballing for your birthday? It’s not that people don’t want to celebrate your birthday, it’s just that they hate the rain more than they love you. So save face and get your hermit game on, because even leaving the house will open you wide up for some serious rain-shaming.
6. Driving like you don’t own the road.
If you are unlucky enough to have to drive a car through the city, buckle up and act like you are the king of the highway, because you won’t get anyhere acting like a wimp on the roads. Even if you’re freaking out and are stumped by the one-way system, behave like a boss and fake it to make it. No one wants a shivering ninny at the wheel, so Vin Diesel that shit and be prepared to shout out the window at other drivers that get in your way or you’ll be the laughing stock of the back seat.
7. Being oblivious to the mate rules.
Sharing a mate is one of the best ways to integrate yourself into Argentine culture, but don’t be the gringo who fucks it up. Drinking mate is a ritual and as such comes with some unbreakable rules: Do not move the bombilla around trying to stir the yerba. Don’t take your sweet time on your turn and chit-chat when you should br drinking (otherwise known as ‘microphoning’). Do pass the mate back to the server when you have finished your serving and do say “Gracias” if you don’t want to be included in the next round. Otherwise, you risk running the gauntlet of mate misery, shimmying down the shame spiral like the dregs of yesterday’s gourd.
8. Awkward greetings.
This is probably the easiest way to humiliate yourself in Buenos Aires, and will happen on a regular basis until you’ve got this saying hello stuff down. Oblivious Yanks and Euros will be perceived as frosty for shaking hands instead of kissing, and this whole kissing thing can cause particular embarrassment for some foreign guys not used to the custom of kissing other men. A few words of advice — don’t smooch. No tongues, no wet embraces, no lip-on-lip action — just a firm cheek-on-cheek plant and you’re good to go.
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