Photo: Gustavo Brazzalle
1. “Where are all the vegetables?”
Before you arrive, everyone will make it a point to mention how exquisite you’ll find Argentina’s steak, praising the tenedor libre restaurants around the country. And meal after meal, you’ll notice your plate is covered by large pieces of meat, leaving little room for vegetables.
Then, on a visit to the supermarket, the sticker shock you’ll experience will explain it all. Groceries, namely fruits and vegetables, are damn expensive. Suddenly, your desire for vegetables disappears.
2. “The Caminito looks much cooler in pictures.”
La Boca is where you’ll find La Bombonera, Buenos Aires’ famed stadium and home to the Boca Juniors. “Of course I have to visit.” And the Caminito, a nearby stretch of street with buildings clad in every color imaginable, will look picture-perfect. In pictures.
Upon arrival, it’ll be evident you’ve been duped. After a quick walk through the overpriced, Disneyfied block and a mediocre-at-best meal, you’ll decide it’s time to move on.
3. “We’re supposed to show up when?”
“We can’t show up to dinner on time,” your wise travel companion will tell you. “What?” It’s true — you’re supposed to show up late. On purpose. If not, you’ll be awkwardly sitting by yourself.
The first time you attempt this, you’ll still get there too early. Try two hours next time — that’s a little better.
4. “I’m ready for bed and everyone’s getting ready to go out.”
On the weekend, people will be grabbing a coffee when you’re used to brushing your teeth and taking out contact lenses. Showing up “early” means arriving at the boliche before 2am. As in many don’t open until 1:30.
“Oh, the sun’s rising now. We’re still out. This is going to take some getting used to.” On the positive side, at least you get to eat breakfast before going to bed.
5. “Wait. So wine really is cheaper than water?”
“I know hyperbole when I hear it.” Wrong. As you sit down and compare the prices of water at the pizza restaurant, the quizzical look on your face will speak volumes. Doing the calculations in your head…yes, it appears the wine is actually cheaper than the water.
Shit. Given the opportunity, you’re certainly not going to pass up a good glass of Malbec. The decision’s been made. No more water on the trip.
6. “I just don’t get mate.”
It seems as if everyone’s drinking it at all times of day. A simple Google search will show you how daunting the process can appear to be. Preparing the mate is one thing. Complex enough as is. Hopefully you’ll be in the presence of a gracious host who’ll handle this.
“I don’t say gracias until I’m done completely?” “I don’t stir the mate with the bombilla?” “It’s okay to make a loud slurping noise when the mate is finished?” After several chances to ingrain these customs into your mind, it’ll finally seem less intimidating.
7. “Why is everyone ‘No, no por favor‘ing me after I say thank you?”
Hearing no, por favor after saying gracias might throw you off after your first few interactions on arrival at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Two weeks later, you’ll be saying it to everyone who thanks you for doing anything. It’s definitely more fun than de nada.
8. “Who DOESN’T sell alfajores here?”
Everywhere you turn, every building you see, there’s a sign suggesting that alfajores are sold within. After one bite, you’re sold. While there are all different sorts, you’ll probably end up partial to the dulce de leche.
It’s said that Argentina is the largest consumer of alfajores in the world. It’s no surprise. They’re amazing. Suddenly, you’re not so confused as to why they’re sold all over. And you’re miraculously not really concerned with not getting money back for your change anymore.
9. “I don’t like fernet. This could be an issue.”
“Order a fernet and coke. Everyone drinks them.” After two sips, you’ll remember — you can’t stand black licorice. Well, good thing you’ve got all that steak and wine to take the edge off. Carry on.