So for those of you who read the title of – and subsequently clicked on – this post hoping to live vicariously through a single, 30 year-old male enthusiastically ensconced in Latin America in his sexual prime (sorry Mum), I have good and bad news.
The good news is you CAN live vicariously through me! The bad news is it’s only going to float your ‘world’s biggest waterfalls’ boat today. Sorry!
If there’s one thing that has stood out since arriving in Buenos Aires, it’s that they’re a real friendly bunch over here. If there’s a second thing that has stood out, they’re often only capable of being friendly en Espanol. Which, if you don’t hablas Espanol, is kind of like offering to help an armless person carry something when you don’t have arms either. It’s the thought that counts though right?
I found this out when I went to try and track down a SIM card for my mobile phone in Buenos Aires. It’s hard enough understanding someone directing you where to go to purchase a card, let alone the nuances of the different carriers and their data/call/SMS plans. And even in the carrier’s high street stores you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who speaks English.
So here’s my quick-start guide to landing a working SIM ASAP in Buenos Aires, including getting data/internet access (a separate issue!), cutting out all the fluff.
Have you noticed the trend towards making everything unisex lately?
Take toilets for example. I wandered into my recently refurbished local in Sydney right before leaving for Buenos Aires, and after a couple of beverages went to track down el bano. After twice wandering past a door marked ‘WO|MEN’, I went against my better man-instincts (‘manstincts’) and relented to asking for directions at the bar.
“It’s a unisex toilet. The door down there on the right, with the ‘WO’- ‘MEN’ on it.” Right. “Don’t you think that might be a bit confusing?” I said. “Don’t girls just see that as the girls loo – kind of a fancy way of writing ‘WOMEN’ – and guys wander around looking for theirs?”. Nope, apparently not.
So off I head, Only to walk in on an early 20s-something in high heels and a short dress adjusting her upper support garment. Who promptly turns around, screws up her face and yells at me “What are you doing in the womens? Get out!”.
And what’s the natural response in that situation? You make it worse by trying to explain of course:
The 18th to the 25th of May 1810 was a week-long series of events that kick-started the Argentine War of Independence. Dubbed the ‘May Revolution’ (Revolucion de Mayo), the events were a direct reaction to Spain’s Peninsula War, resulted in the removal of Spain’s current Viceroy (Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros) in Buenos Aires, and saw the establishment of a local government consisting of Buenos Aires citizens only.
Why the history lesson? I had a somewhat poignant picture moment on my trek down town this morning to check out the Casa Rosada (the very pink – yes pink – executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina). Mid-term congressional elections are approaching and there have been plenty of demonstrations protesting against the government’s apparent failure to address Argentina’s rampant inflation problem (for rampant read: >30% – previously discussed here). Stopping to take a snap of the monument erected to commemorate the Revolucion de Mayo outside of Casa Rosada, I caught the below image of riot police gearing up for another day of protests in front of the monument – complete with well-worn riot shields and even more well-worn batons.
Officially, 1 US dollar (USD) today will buy you around 5.8 Argentinian pesos (ARS). So how did I get an exchange rate of 1 US dollars for 9.2 pesos? Put simply, if there’s one thing South America likes, it’s a good black market.
Things not to say about a flight stewardess; 3 large Argentinians and a supermarket; and meeting Blinky Bill in Buenos Aires…
So who remembers this little gem from Austen Powers –
Don’t you just love it when film happens in real life? 14 hours on the ground in Buenos Aires and I’m already falling off my chair laughing from an experience related to the above…but I’ll save that for the end, so read on!
After 8 years of working in an 10-foot by 10-foot office cubicle, analysing stocks and feeding the beast for a minimum 12 hours a day, I find myself in the curious position of suddenly being very time-rich (read: redundant), well-financed (read: redundancy package), and feeling foot-loose and fancy free (read: what to do with life now?!).
Having carefully considered and discarded several options including professional basketball player (too short), brain surgeon (too twitchy), astronaut (still can’t even handle rollercoasters) and stay-at-home-Dad (this looked promising for a while, until I remembered I don’t have a wife or a kid), I have decided the dilemma is best solved from the distant vantage point of sunny Buenos Aires, for which I depart in exactly 11 days time.
Several things will happen while I am in Buenos Aires: 1) I will make a fool of myself at least 3 times a day as I attempt to become conversationally fluent in Spanish and sure-footed in Tango; 2) I will post detailed blog updates so you, my dear readers (hi Mum) can enjoy my numerous lingual faux pas, and 3) I will also work to get a couple of business ideas off the ground, detailing the steps I take here, so that those who wish can follow my progress and use anything they may find helpful.
Off into the deep end we go…
I hope you all enjoy the read, feel free to post comments and otherwise stay in touch while I am abroad. Watch out for the first of a series of travel-related posts coming soon – ‘A Guide To Buenos Aires: Hacking the Spanish language in 2 months’.
For any fellow lifestyle-change seekers out there or budding entrepreneurs , I strongly recommend checking out Tim Ferriss’ ‘4 Hour Work Week’ blog, which has been a tremendous aid in helping set some goals and planning the approach from here on out. Happy reading!