Sunday, April 16, 2006

Farewell mi amor, I never ate anything so tasty

I have left Buenos Aires. In four months I did many things. I picked up a smattering of Spanish, a bit of a panza, some good friends, some people I will need to avoid should I return, and a healthy respect for city life. I never went here, nor here, and really to any number of touristic places in the city of BsAs. However, I did manage to go to a healthy number of places listed here, and that's really what I think this city is all about.

Now that I'm out of there, I can say some things liberally. Porteños are some kind of people. First, all people that live in BsAs are technically porteños, but for me, there are the people that live in the city, and then there are porteños. They typically live in the northern barrios, will often ask you what barrio you live in, a sort of meter of judgement, think Mar Del Plata is the greatest place on earth, well, Miami, and then Punta Del Este, but unfortunately times are tough, and Argentina is a third world country.

Now, I'm a bit cynical towards this as for me, this is third world, and not so much this. But I taught many accountants, and I know all the economic statistics point to Argentina's third world status. It's just a tough thing to accept. That aside, porteños are a nice bunch, rather arrogant though. The difference between Argentina and Buenos Aires really becomes apparent the moment you leave the city. I really spent the majority of my time only in Buenos Aires, and now with my remaining days in this country, am seeing just how nice it can be. This is all heavily biased with the fact that I don't like cities, BA was an experiment for me, and I doubt I'll live in a large city again, but who knows.

Negative things out of the way, I really am sad to leave. It took a while, but I finally started to make a life there. Frustrations abound from living in another language. I never felt like any of my strictly spanish-speaking friends knew who I was, and could never be certain that my understanding of them was complete or sufficient. With charm and wit, you can always make friends, keeping them after the third or fourth conversation is the challenge. The folks I knew had a mountain of patience with me, and lord knows why, but often took me out and showed me around even when I rarely said a word.

I was fortunate to see many sides to that massive place, high falooting snobsters, and dumpster divers. In the upper middle class world of my english classes, I saw a very different reality of Argentina than that which existed just blocks away. Their concerns, their interests, all so disparate from that which took place on the very streets they walk. As I thought about this, it is not so great of a difference from that of the States, or even European countries. It just so happens we have better programs at moving problems out of sight, out of mind.

I was having a conversation in Spanish with a French expat once, and he pointed out perhaps one of the best things, at least for me, about Argentina. He had lived in Perú for a year, and while it was beautiful, incredible, all those apellations, it faulted a few things. The first being of course he couldn't make enough to scratch by there, the second, after a certain time, there was always a gap between him and Peruvian friends he made, generally economic. Whereas Argentine's, perhaps because of their pride, are much easier to be friends with.

Yes there still remains an economic disparity, and in cases a grand one, but they'll never hit you up for a dollar. Well, the folks on the street surely will, even though they have a sandwich and are well dressed, they'll happily casually put their hand out. But your average Argentine, or at least Porteño, doesn't view extrañjeros as that much different. Which is a blessing if you've been through some Asian countries. I could walk around anonymous, occasionally even asked for directions, which I could give! Cultural differences are interesting to look at, but in comparison, I would at times be too exhausted to leave my room in India, but here, it's a shame to stay inside, you might make a new friend out there.

Just don't say you're from the States. Two more times, these girls were from Paraguay, one even said I had "la boca linda," thanks to my dentista! Regardless, we get to the "donde sos" part, and they take off! It's obvious I'm not Argentine, 6'3" on a good day, blonde hair down to my shoulders, blue eyes and white enough to blind yours, but damn, I need to avoid the "donde sos" question. Oh well, maybe I'll be from Icelandia from now on.

I'll miss you Buenos Aires, and I'll probably be back. All your crazy Argentine idiosyncrasies, just keep the meat cheap, the sacacorcho nearby, and a pair of bigass fancy shades to cover the late night's festivities.


Anonymous Emily said...

hi dave, i'm not sure how i found your blog, i'm sure it was thru LP or something, but i've enjoyed reading your Argentine adventures, i especially enjoy the ending reflections... those are always some of the best. It seems liek all of us who come to these countries have similar experiences with the "haves" and the "have-nots" of the world. One from Peru (mine) as well as another BsAs inhabitant:

good times wherever you go next!

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's obvious I'm not Argentine, 6'3" on a good day, blonde hair down to my shoulders, blue eyes and white enough to blind yours,

ohh of course, obvious not argentine LOL

they are thousands of Argentines that fit your description dude, you're funny, and all those other comments you made in the past, that double-standard love-hate relationship you profess for the place, there is a hint of "superiority" belief in that..

like another american blogger that was upset because the locals didnt think he looked "american" hilarious.

keep em coming

10:28 PM  

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