In keeping with the reminiscence of what I’ll miss when I leave Argentina next month, it’s only fitting that I include a short list of the things that I won’t miss about this country. After all, if you’ve read along you’ll know that this hasn’t been the easiest experience I’ve had. Excuse me if this list is longer than the good stuff, but it is what it is. Again, it’s in no particular order:
-A lack of respect for other people’s time. Showing up late is common and expected. If you want people to arrive by 10 pm you have to say 9:30 pm, and even then they’ll be late. It’s sort of rubbed off on me as well, and I need to plan on showing up late to places even though I’m planning it that way.
-No responses from text messages. This would be just plain rude back home. If someone takes the time to send you a message and ask a question, the polite thing is to at least respond with something. But here, maybe because texts cost money which no one wants to spend, you often times just don’t get responses. Later when confronted they’ll say something like, “Yeah I got the text, but I just didn’t feel like answering.” And to them that’s perfectly acceptable.
-Traffic disasters. Whether it’s a road block, bus that doesn’t stop for any reason, or the Subte breaking down, Buenos Aires is a giant headache for public transportation. It’s a shock when you get somewhere in decent time.
-Inflation. I’ve seen prices rise steadily and sometimes sharply overnight on everything, from rent to milk and sugar. It screws everyone over and the salaries don’t increase to match this inflation, hurting those who need a few extra pesos the most.
-Racism. Say what you will about racism throughout the world, but it’s clearly prevalent in Buenos Aires. It’s normal to hear someone say something like “negro de cabeza” (head of a black person) or “negro de mierda” (black piece of shit). They aren’t necessarily referring to racially black people, but to darker skinned mestizos who most likely live in a villa, or ghetto. I’ve had arguments with people about this who claim that their translation of it isn’t the same as it would be in the United States, for example, but it’s very clear that there is a classicist and racial viewpoint of many porteños.
-Incomplete plans. I can’t count the number of times friends and I have had either tentative plans or definite plans which have fallen through at the last minute. For whatever reason, something always comes up and we have to leave it for another time, which of course never comes.
-A lack of food variety. Yes, Argentina has amazing steaks, empanadas, pizza and pasta, etc. Yet after a while you want something different and it’s not exactly easy to find something international of decent quality. That is, of course, unless you want to pay an arm and a leg.
-Random strikes which cripple the city and/or country. You wake up one morning and all of the air crews at the airport decide to strike for higher wages, or Congress is surrounded by truck drivers, or whatever, etc etc.
-Mosquitoes in the summer. There must be a special species of Buenos Aires Blood Suckers which have pincers long and sharp enough to pierce through jeans. They are relentless.
Again, this is just a short list, and maybe I can’t think of more at the moment because I’m not in a bad mood, or simply because my situation has improved since I got here. But then again, every day is a new surprise of trouble here. You never really know which thing will tick you off more.