One Year Later: 10 Things about Buenos Aires that Now Seem Normal

12 Oct

On May 13, 2011, we announced our plans to pack up from Los Angeles to head to the Midwest via a not-so-direct detour. Our detour through Buenos Aires, Argentina, is now officially at the one year mark with no clear end in sight. We’ve settled in, set up a daily routine, and gotten used to the way things work. We miss our friends, family and dog terribly, but for now, this is where we need to be.

To celebrate the end of first year in Buenos Aires, we’ve compiled a list about our daily life here.

10 Things about BA that Now Seem Normal

  1. Walking carefully. Everyone in this city walks with one eye looking to the ground scanning for “landmines” left by the numerous canines on the city’s sidewalks.
  2. Ordering a la carte. Side dishes are not very common here. Unless it’s a carrot salad, mashed pumpkins, or french fries, forget about it.
  3. Shopping a la carte. Instead of walking down the next aisle at Target, we shop at numerous boutique stores for our various daily needs. We’ve got our pasta shop, our veggie stand, our chicken and eggs supply, our general household goods store, our Mexican food delivery, and our work/office supplies store.
  4. Being uninsured. In the U.S., that’s asking for trouble, but here, with nationalized health care we can get any medical need for free. (We still opt for visiting the private clinics/hospitals, which are still comparatively affordable because they compete with no-cost care.)
  5. Taking public transportation. Buses, commuter trains, the subway, and taxis keep us connected and moving.
  6. Walking 2 miles. Although done carefully, foregoing public transportation is an often welcome change. “You want to walk?” is met with, “Of course.”
  7. Staring blankly. After having an awkward exchange in “Spanish,” sometimes that’s all that can be done. (People stare blankly at us too.)
  8. Cooking from scratch. There’s not as much prepared or semi-prepared food here that we like, so we’ve been forced to expand our cooking repertoire to prevent the next item in this list from becoming much too normal. One example of this is that all black beans come dry. No cans.
  9. Eating meat, pasta, and white bread. While normal to most of you back home, we didn’t eat much of these in the U.S. Here, you’ll starve if you don’t.
  10. Sipping coffee. Drinking children’s sized coffee in a restaurant and enjoying it for hours while not being bothered by the wait staff is something that is sorely missing from U.S. culture.

Thanks for following our adventure!

If you’re an expat in Buenos Aires, what’s on your list of things once felt foreign, but now seem normal?

9 Responses to “One Year Later: 10 Things about Buenos Aires that Now Seem Normal”

  1. Peter S. October 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    I love reading your posts. Blessings now and always.

  2. Sarah October 13, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Has it been a year already? My how time flies!

    We’ve lived in Columbus for one month now. Here’s what still doesn’t feel normal:
    – Driving everywhere
    – Collecting ‘fuel perks’ so gas is affordable (see bullet #1)
    – Shopping en masse. Target…how do you walk out of there without spending $50?

    Take your time and enjoy your experience amigos, the midwest will still be here when you’re ready.


    p.s. All that said, we miss you dearly and sure would love to have you over for dinner!

  3. oscar and anel martinez October 13, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Wow a year already? Time goes by fast. Anel and i have been married for almost 3. Seems it was just yesterday you held our beautiful ceremony.

    Continue enjoying this beautiful experience as time goes by fast !! Sounds like you both have gotten well acustomed to BAs way of life. Wow!! Enjoying a child’s size coffee for hours at a restaurant without being disturbed.. that would be unheard of in LA..

    Take care!!

  4. Emily October 16, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    It has been fun to follow this last year of your adventure. Thanks for keeping us posted on your highlights!

  5. Amber Reeves October 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    We’ve only been here two and a half weeks, and every single one of these things has hit us right over the head! I would add, “Holding onto your hand bag on the bus and at restaurants.” I’ve been warned about bag snatchers and the locals seem to keep their stuff close, so it’s just become second nature.

  6. Eduardo November 4, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Sounds great, it is really funny to read your adventure! Disfruten BA! If you need some help from a local just say it!

  7. Amy November 5, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    My list of “normal” after two months in BA:
    1) Walking up six flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator to get in a little extra exercise since my diet now consists of mucho pizza, empanadas, ice cream, steak, medialunas, dulce de leche and wine.
    2) Testing ice cream from a different heladeria several days a week and finding every one to be as delicious as the last. (I may never be able stomach American style, soft-serve frozen yogurt again.)
    3) Buying good (but cheap) wine for the equivalent of about U.S. $2-5 a bottle, and “splurging” on something really good is still less than $10 U.S.
    4) Seeing 3-4 buses lined up in a row with the same bus number heading down the street together and the bus drivers chatting to each other when they are stopped at the lights.
    5) Three lanes of cars lined up at the traffic lights where there should only be two (or one.)
    6) Traffic lights that flash a yellow before turning green.
    7) Walking down streets near my house that I thought I’d been down before and discovering a mercado, heladeria, cafe, rooftop park, etc. that I never noticed before.
    8) Feral cats climbing in my lap while sitting in the park.
    9) Families sleeping on the sidewalks, parks and median of 9 de Julio. (While it is normal to see, the sight of homeless children still doesn’t sit well with me.)
    10) Being told I am crazy for moving here by every single Argentine I meet.

  8. misstwig November 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I dissagree with number 2. mayonesa is the national side dish.

    1. eating dinner in the middle of the night….
    2. realizing that the question “y para tomar?” at any eating establishment is, in fact, not a question but an indication that you will be drinking coke
    3. thinking of something that of something that I need, and then instantly disregarding the thought because it will just not exist in argentina.
    4. seeing semi naked ladies at all hours on the tv, even on children’s programs
    5. news channels don’t contian much news, but in fact endless footage of traffic jams…
    6. if you toot your horn loud enough you might not have to pay at the toll gate

  9. Ulises February 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm #


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