Living the Vida Portena

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Buenos Aires isn’t called the Paris of South America for nothing. The old Victorian buildings, the Italian lilts in the local Spanish, and the larger than life art scene throws that title right into the lap of Buenos Aires. If Argentina were to have a heart, BA would be the heartbeat.

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An elegant little street lamp in the center of town at Plaza de Mayo.

There is something for everyone here. Want to eat till you explode? Done. Want to consume enough coffee till you pass out? Easy. Want to find enough landmarks till your legs crumble under your weight through pure exhaustion? Um, that’s actually possible. And I’ve completed all of these in practically two days. Let’s just say the coffee helped with the walking and the walking helped with the eating.

My first three weeks here had been difficult, exciting, fulfilling, and enlightening. Living with a host mother has given me an in depth experience into the portena life. Milanesas and ensaladas and tartas and tortillas (it’s a complicated omelet thing not the Mexican flatbread), and everything berenjena (eggplant) has become my everyday diet. I have learned so much about their politics and their friendships from living with Paula – a 36 year old woman with a passionate personality. With her I have handed food and clothing to the homeless and shared my cultures and likings. She has helped me navigate through the rough big city waters and taught me how to deal with certain types of people. Without her guidance, I doubt I would be having the proper Argentinian experience.

With this is mind, here are four things that I have learned living as a Portena (what the locals call themselves) –

Yo is ‘sho’ and yoga is ‘shoga’

This little dialectical surprise caught me off guard when I first arrived. “Hola, me SHamo SHani” was a little mind-bending at first, because what’s the problem with just pronouncing your y’s like the rest of the world? Why change? WHY? But after getting used to it, and now doing it myself, I’ve realized that one, it makes you feel fancy as a bee and two, it makes the language so more unique, and who wouldn’t want to learn a unique dialect? So now I am okay with it. Or maybe I am just finding an excuse to be okay with it. “SHo soy Gauri” is now the norm.
Side note: Speaking Spanish as an Indian is so much easier since the accents are really similar. Roll those R’s.

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Me drinking mate and eating dulce de leche at 9 am because why not?

Merienda is Life

No experience in Buenos Aires is complete without enjoying the medialunas (a little sweet croissant) at a café. The merienda culture, aka coffee and a sweet treat around 4-6 pm, goes hand in hand with the long lasting and strong standing café culture. There are 72 notable cafes in BA, 72! Before coming here I didn’t even know that a ‘notable cafe’ was a real thing. The oldest and boldest is Café Tortoni, a large café with multiple rooms including a mini-theater. Revolutions have been planned and writers have written from the very seat that I am sitting in right now. How cool is that?

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The famous, and delicious, Café Tortoni

Everything is ……lindo

“REI LINDO” is the motto of the day, everyday. Its anything super beautiful, awesome, cool or cute. I’ve heard the word lindo enough to last me the rest of my life. And it’s only been 3 weeks. If someone says something to you and you have no clue what they say, you have three options, and lindo is definitely one of them.

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Teatro Colon – lindo af

Pickpockets galore

“AY! Don’t let anyone see your iPhone! People will (not can, will) snatch it out of your hands!” I have heard these lines from literally every person here. Due to their ridiculous prices here and lack of availability, it seems like Apple products are considered tech for the elite. And Americans. Can’t take pictures and can’t make a phone call. If anything happens and I get my phone stolen, the blame would be all on me. This is really sad, because I like taking pictures, and actually being in them. I’ve heard stories of phones being snatched from the hands of a girl who was trying to use maps, INSIDE a cab! Or from backpacks, or from a sleeping person’s hand. In any case, don’t expect too many pictures from me! I should have just brought a giant camera with a neck strap like a proper tourist.

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Wear your mochila like a kangaroo with pride.

Stay tuned for more stories from South America. If you need help in planning a vacation to Argentina, click here.

Author: Gauri Adettiwar (Guest Travel Blogger)

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