Argentina is a very diverse and wild country both in landmass and people. Buenos Aires, the capital and largest city in Argentina has everything you expect in a metropolitan… except that everything is in Spanish, and not just Spanish Spanish, I’m talking about Argentinian Spanish. Their accents transcend what you know as a typical Spanish speaker from Central America. Moving on, the food is delicious and charming as the people that eat it. I am fortunate enough to have people who are Porteños which means that they were born and raised in Buenos Aires.
For the first couple days, I had the great opportunity to meet the aunt of my host. Mariela was very excited to meet me after talking through WhatsApp which everyone uses in Argentina. When we first met, as all Argentinians do, we kissed each other on the left cheek. Something that you do here with friends, family and people you meet. I had the privilege to spend the day at her house. After fighting traffic from the airport, to the city, to all the way to her private neighborhood, I shook off all the tiredness that was plaguing me. It was Sunday and that meant that her whole family was there for lunch. These types of gatherings are very common among Argentinian families. After the greetings, hugs and kisses, I felt like part of the family. We ate pasta con crema with wine and soda. Absolutely delicious. I am truly blessed to have spent my first day there with them.
Throughout the rest of the 1st week, I spent most of the time with my very close friend who offered to show me around the city. The week went by in a blur but I do remember going to the popular tourist areas like Puente de la Mujer, Obelisco, Palermo, and La Boca. All these places have their own characteristics.
Puente is Spanish for bridge and it connects the wealthy part of Buenos Aires to the rest of the city. There were bars and restaurants along the river, but what really stood out was the gelato place called Friddo’s. And that was when I fell in love again. If there is anything you take away from this post, it is to try the gelato. That shit is life changing. My two favorite flavors are Tramontana and Dulce de leche. I would say, hands down that eating gelato in Argentina is one of the highest of highlights.
Obelisco is basically the George Washington monument in Washington D.C. except its here, in Buenos Aires. It is considered the center of the city. One of the busiest areas, heavy in traffic and people during rush hour, a site to see but not a site to stay in for a very long time.
Palermo, is known as party central in Buenos Aires. There are bars and bilochets (clubs) down every single street. It is ridiculous. the first time I was there was during the day, my friend and I walked around, enjoyed the graffiti, and drank coffee while visiting the book shops. My second time there was on a Friday night with my other host and his girlfriend. Believe me when I say that it is a completely different vibe. People crowded around the bars and clubs, music is blasting from each street and lights from rooftop bars gave life to the night.
La Boca, was my personal favorite. Only because it is the home of Tango. Classic Argentine music that goes along with a sexy dance. This neighborhood is flooded with colorful buildings, tourists, and overall a great vibe. A place definitely worth visiting if you find yourself in Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is basically the New York of Argentina. A vast city that stretches for miles in all directions. Nothing but urban buildings with outlying neighborhoods that share streets, trains, and buses that lead into the heart of the center. Buenos Aires is nothing like Seattle in the sense of scale and vibe. I stayed in two neighborhoods, Villa Pueyrredon and Agronomia. They are identical as are most of the surrounding neighborhoods are in Buenos Aires. What also separates this from Seattle is that at any given hour of the day, there are people walking around and enjoying mate. Parks or plazas are filled with young and old people enjoying the summer days. Cafes and restaurants are usually filled with people. Even in the evening and night time, you would rarely find an empty store. For this fact, I fell in love with the city because it reminded me so much about Madrid. So far, my experience with Spanish speaking countries is that it is universal to stay out all night drinking and hanging out with friends. It is a very common thing to stay out until 6-7am partying and drinking. The culture here and in Spain runs deep and it is something that I truly enjoy.
Being a Filipino American in Argentina is a complicated yet unique experience because every time I introduce myself, I have to emphasize that I am American and also Filipino which at times is confusing for the natives. However, when I speak English, they know. I am American as it gets. For that, I am treated like family. It is interesting that I my skin color and facial features still do play a role of how I am treated. It ranges from being an exotic person during social gatherings where people do their best to practice English to people talking shit about me in Spanish and they get surprised when I do understand and speak Spanish back to them. Overall, the people here are friendly towards Americans and are eager to learn about the US and even more about the Philippines and our people. I am always happy to explain my roots and my story of coming to Argentina. Because of this, I am forever grateful to my hosts and friends that I made here in Buenos Aires. After all, there are no foreign lands, it is only the traveler who is foreign.