So…I am supposed to be at Migraciones right now freezing my ass off and waiting in line to get my visa. I even woke up at 6:30 AM after 5 hours of poor sleep to go and renounce my illegal immigrant status (which is how I currently roll…) but of course, TIA. Argentina is still not quite sure if I’m a criminal and they have yet to tell me their final decision on that. They promised me they’d decide in 5 days (which should have been 4 days ago…) but apparently I’m still being reviewed and I should check back later. Maybe I shouldn’t have jaywalked that one time.
It’s wildly unfair because the caffeine of my morning Nescafe has already began to block adenosine receptors in my brain and organs, slowing down my cellular activity and stimulating my nerve cells to release epinephrine. This hormone, better known as adrenaline, is now increasing my heart rate, my blood pressure, and blood flow to my muscles, which control my fingers as I type. These symptoms are contradictory to sleep. If you’re experiencing something similar this morning I’ll leave you this dandy final addition to my mini-series of little things that remind me I’m not in the USA to enjoy 🙂 Don’t forget to check out the first, second, and third parts first.
76. Open any girl’s purse in the USA (if you dare) and you’re 80% guaranteed to find at least one tube of lip gloss. I’m not sure many of my Argentine girl friends have even heard of the stuff and I’ve yet to see anything but lipstick or chap stick on the shelves in Farmacity here. I’ve concluded that, while it can probably be found somewhere in china town, along with bacon flavored jam and soy whale liver, Argentina’s lips remain largely unglossed.
77. Argentine ice cream was churned and cooled (or whatever magic they do to make ice cream) in heaven.
78. There is a shortage of change here so everyone is stingy with their monedas. Stores usually round up a few cents when handing you your change back, so that’s nice, but they’ll almost always ask you, “¿Tenés cincuenta centavos?” (Do you have fifty cents?) and grumble when you apologize for being coinless. Olvidate if you only carry around cien pesos.
79. This kind of goes with the last one but because the stores try and hoard coins they’ll ask you if you want to donate 17 centavos, or however much is easy to round off your bill to, to the Starving Fireman’s International Ice Cream Fund. Or the like.
80. If you’ve never heard of the things before, you might think that Argentines go to the bathroom in pairs. It’s a myth. There’s just this crazy-weird butt-rinsing machine next to the toilet that they copy-catted from France. It’s called a bidet.
81. Books are really expensive here because of import taxes and other factors (see #64)–text books included. Apparently copyright laws are only suggestions though because you’ll get most of your university texts as photocopies in a bookstore. They’ve found cute little loopholes through the copyright laws but what’s the big deal if they blatantly disregard them too? Shhh…don’t tell.
^^My management textbook, which is a compilation of select chapters and articles from other books (loophole)
82. I am often shocked by the influence of English here. Everyone says it’s the “universal language” (maybe that’s why we don’t seem too interested in teaching other languages in the USA) and many prioritize the teaching and learning of it. Many English words have made their way into everyday Argentine speak as well. For example, when I used to say that I was studying Business Marketing here, I would simply say “marketing.” I took a class called “Fundamentos de Marketing” and we talked all about what “marketing” was, etc. To market something would often be referred to as “hacer marketing de un producto“–literally, to do marketing of a product….
83. Water and plastic utensils are not free: let me diverge for a moment to tell you my spoon story.
So I bought a bunch of food from a chino for lunch one day–some chips, the makings for a sandwich, and a yogurt–and brought it back to the university to eat in peace and pretend to catch up on my reading for Social Movements (we already know how that worked out…) I sat down outside the cafeteria (you aren’t allowed to go in unless you buy something…bah humbug…) and set everything out in front of me like I used to in Elementary school all proud and excited at the prospect of filling my tummy, when I realized I didn’t have a spoon with which to eat my yogurt. In Elementary school that wouldn’t have mattered. I’d eaten my fair share of liquidy substances with the foil tops of their containers to the awe and admiration of my tablemates. Having no spoon couldn’t stop me back in the day!!! But, realizing that a woman of 20 years should probably be a bit more sophisticated and use utensils, I entered the treacherous environment that is the cafeteria and tip-toed to the line where they sometimes buy things. After I spent a sufficient enough time looking like I’d bought something, I went over to a different counter to ask for a spoon.
–“¿Tenés una cuchara, por favor?” Do you have a spoon please?
–“¿Emmm…compraste algo?” Did you buy something? You could see the suspicion in the cook´s eyes right away, like a dog who thinks he’s heard his master’s car in the driveway, instantly on alert.
–“Uhh…¿qué?…¿tenés una cucharita?” Umm…huh?…do you have a little spoon?
–“¿Compraste algo? ¿Qué compraste?” Did you buy something? What did you buy?
–(Realizing he would not part with his plastic spoons without my buying something and not really wanting to have to use my foil spoon method, I spoke in my most beautifulest yankee-est accent): “YO-guuur, sí, compro YO-guuuurrrr. ¿Tenés coochawwruh?” YO-gurt, yes, I buy YO-gurt. Do you have spoon? For emphasis I make a shoveling motion into my mouth.
–“Y lo compraste acá?” And you bought it here?
–Tilting my head sideways slightly like a little baby bird, “¿Coochawruh?” Spoon? More shoveling motions, this time more desperately and faster—if there were real yogurt on my imaginary spoon it would be all over the stingy cook’s floor.
There is a pregnant pause as the cook gives me a judgmental, unsure look. Then he tentatively grabs the blessed plastic spoon from a tray full of them. He starts handing it to me but snatches it back and gives me another doubtful inspection. I return his gaze with my best feigned innocence and puppy eyes—it’s more effective because technically I didn’t lie about anything. I did buy yogurt, just not from his overpriced, monopolistic university cafe. And I do want a spoon.
After a little more language volleying in which I expertly imitated a stupid gringa, he eventually parts with it. I slide out of the cafeteria with my new plastic spoon clutched tight against my chest like Gollum and the ring, hop away to my stash outside the door of the cafeteria, gather my reserves in the chino plastic bag, and take the stairs two at a time to settle two floors up and eat in peace with my stolen spoon. Nothing is free, and I swear he gave me a dirty look the next time I went in the cafeteria that same week with a friend and had magically-improved Spanish ten levels. I keep the spoon in my purse now, just in case I am left without one again.
84. Most people here seem to think that we curse like sailors in the USA. Personally, I think they curse like sailors. Probably, sailors don’t even curse that much.
85. As if to prove the last point, I constantly see clothing, as I am forced to window shop daily walking down my street, that cracks me up. I highly doubt that these types of displays would last anywhere in Fort Collins, or even bigger cities in the USA. Besides the picture below, I have quite recently seen a flowy tank top bejeweled with the F-word, and a Black T-shirt proclaiming that “God is the new black”…whatever that means.
86. If you watched my first video way back in August, you will have seen my elevator here. Most elevators are like that one, tiny little things with two doors that you have to pull shut. I loved them then and still do now. I’m not meaning to be demeaning when I say that they make me feel like I’m in the 20’s. They actually are pretty sweet, I’m serious.
87. Probably just a city thing but you have to buzz up to someone’s apartment here. I had a buzzer back in Fort Collins but only because my apartments were seriously weird. I know it’s not that common, at least in Foco, but here EVERYONE has them, even if they live in a house. It’s like a doorbell but it makes an delightfully awful buzzing noise. Then the people in the apartment pick up a little telephone and talk to you downstairs.
88. Security is a major concern here. Upon hearing your voice through the telephone in the above point, it is very unlikely that your friend’s will just buzz you up (press the button that unlocks the door.) They will instead make a point of coming down to get you just to make sure you aren’t a thief in disguise or something, I don’t know. Video cameras are also common, as is changing the locks when you lose your keys (which I have done twice 😦 ) I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, I’m just not used to it coming from a place where it’s not a big deal if you forget to lock your doors.
89. This picture:
90. This is hard to explain but the idea of what types of foods make you fat is different here. In the USA, when we diet, the first thing that we commonly “unfriend” is sugar. Here, the idea that “sugar doesn’t make you fat” is quite common. Instead, greasy and salty foods do (although they eat both regularly 🙂 )
91. Portion sizes at restaurants. I mean, where do I even begin?! My first week I was constantly starving, partly because I was burning so many more calories than usual with all the newness and lack of sleep, but also because Statians just eat HUGE portions and Argentines don’t. I think if I got a Qdoba burrito today I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I would be so excited that I’d dive right in but feel full to the brim after half of it. I could eat a burrito the size of my head back in the day before I came to Argentina. Now I’ve learned that humans really don’t need all that much at once…
92. I am going to miss the Fourth of July this year but it’s ok because we got fireworks on Christmas 😛 With the seasons being switched, Christmas is during the summer, which is just plain strange…
93. Coupled with mayonnaise obsession is the mysterious salsa golf. It’s basically just mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together. At first, I was revolted but now I won’t dip my french fries in anything else.
94. Clothes dryers and dishwashers are rare, but garbage disposals are non-existent. I have yet to see one in my eleven months here in Argentina. I am now sure that garbage disposals were one of the greatest inventions of all time and I just don’t understand whyyyyy they aren’t in all Argentine sinks? I get so grossed out pulling all of the nasty food chunks from the bottom of the sink after washing the dishes and transferring them to the garbage, and then you have to take out the garbage because it gets all stinky and nasty. Garbage disposals are beautiful pieces of art to me now and luxuries one can only dream of. APPRECIATE THEM!
95. It is common to weigh your produce separately at a grocery store and get a sticker on it before checking out.
96. When you walk into a party you are typically expected to greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek. When you leave, you go through the same routine. When you see a friend on the street, in the hallway, or are meeting them for coffee, another kiss. When you meet someone for the first time, etc. I love it though, I think I’m going to feel like everyone thinks I smell when I go back to the USA and people don’t kiss me hello and goodbye.
97. Inflation is so bad in Argentina that it is one of the only countries that will sell a 2013 car for more pesos at the end of the year than at the beginning. This phenomenon has led to the “blue” market value of the US dollar, which keeps me from going over budget here.
98. In Tigre, a community just outside of Buenos Aires where the roads are made of water, there are lancha (boat) colectivos, taxis, and even police and trash services!
99. While the toilet water doesn’t flush the other way, there are weird looking flushers here. Usually, there’s a little button on the side of the toilet, but sometimes you have to pull a string. The standard Statian type of flushers are rare.
100. [Insert something about tango or psychology (read my post Psychoanalyze This) here]
ANDDDD 101. When people think of South America, they generally conjure images of tropical rainforests, tribes of natives playing the drums, and maybe Machu Picchu. Argentina does have some tropical areas, but it is, in reality, a huge country that spans mountains, jungle, desert, and even arctic cold temperatures and glaciers.
Not to be continued because I’m getting bored of these posts :P…