This was part of a writing assignment for an online writing course. I know it may seem like I am hating on Argentina on this post but I really did love living there, and definitely recommend traveling there! This was just a writing exercise, although it’s all true 🙂
1. Waking up in a comfortable environment
Depending on the time of year, you’re either too hot or too cold. You toss and turn on your creaky mattress all night and wake up either covered in sweat, or wearing every article of clothing you could dig out of your suitcase for more layers.
2. Waking up in a peaceful environment
No matter what time of year, no matter what time of day, you can expect there to be constant noises streaming into your bedroom from all directions. Whether it’s the hiss of a “colectivo” (bus), the incessant honking of thousands of cars, the sound of Argentines cursing at each other in the streets, or creaks and thumps coming from your own home, you will never wake up with a sense of serenity.
3. Nice steamy showers on demand
Don’t expect to roll out of bed and hop in the shower immediately. Chances are, you’ll have to let the hot water run for about 5 – 10 minutes before it heats up, even then it will probably be lukewarm at best. You’ll also need to forewarn all of your roommates that you’ll be showering because the kitchen sink beats the shower in the battle for hot water. Water pressure is not abundant, it will likely be more like a small stream spewing and dripping out of a faucet, and you will have to position your head just right to try to make it spread evenly over your body.
4. Efficient, sanitary bathrooms
While not every bathroom is guaranteed to have toilet paper, they all have trash cans. Get used to throwing your used TP in the trash no matter what or you’ll eventually clog the toilet which can’ t handle paper products. Don’t worry, Argentines make up for lack of toilet paper by supplying every bathroom with an outdated bidet. Be prepared to use your critical thinking skills when it’s time to figure out how to flush because it seems like every commode has a unique technique. It may take up to 5 flushes before all of your offerings completely disappear from view.
5. The luxury of Electronic Appliances
One of the worst offenses as a roommate is using the last match out of the box, and not replacing them. Be prepared to use matches for any task at hand that involves heat. You’ll need them to light the oven, the stove, in some cases the hot water heater, and even to turn on the furnace or fireplace. You will kick off every morning with the strike of a match so that you can boil water for your Mate (strong tea.) Just turn on the gas, say a little prayer, and brace yourself for the small exploding sound that occurs when the pilot is lit. You don’t need to use matches for things like dishwashers, and washers and dryers however, because you don’t have those. Get used to using laundry services, and not caring whether your dishes are clean or not.
6. The ability to enter and leave your apartment at will
Even if you have your key, and your roommates are home, you aren’t guaranteed entry into your apartment. The ancient keys and door locks are very fickle, sometimes they work alright, but usually there’s a very quirky technique of just the right amount of pressure, jiggling, wiggling, and shaking that you must master in order to open the door. Your key may get stuck in the lock in which case you can hope your roommates are home to buzz you in, assuming the buzzer works which it probably doesn’t. It is even possible to get locked INTO your house, I can tell you by personal experience. Leaving your apartment becomes an exhilarating game of Russian roulette, because you never know how long, or even if, you will be able to re-enter it.
7. The convenience of being able to find all ingredients for a meal in one place
You may spend several hours, walk several blocks, and get off at multiple subte (subway) stations to cook one single meal. You can expect to go to the carniceria for meat, the verduria for fruit and vegetables, China Town for spices, the panaderia for bread or pastries, and the local chino for drinks. Don’t get too excited when you stumble upon the “Disco” grocery stores around town, despite their large buildings and multiple isles, they’re very misleading. They carry the same thing as the small chinos, just in larger amounts- lots of pastas, salsas in bags, Mate, and 100 types of alfajores (cookies.)
8. Comfortable, safe modes of transportation.
Walking should be simple enough but you’ll find that you do a lot of running instead because every time you try to cross the street you run the risk of getting hit by a car or even a bus because they’re all in a very big hurry, and are going a lot faster than you would assume while approaching an intersection with stop signs and stop lights that serve as merely a suggestion. You can take the subte, but bring a change of clothes because it turns into a sauna during peak times of day when every car has as many people crammed into it as possible. Beware of ladrones (thieves) who love to pickpocket in these crowded places. If you take a cab, try to have the correct amount of change because they become grumpy when you don’t and they are renowned for giving out truchos or fake bills, if you aren’t careful. Biking is an option for the thrill seekers, but anything you purchase in Argentina is very likely to have multiple things wrong with it, you may find that the chain falls off, the breaks fail, or it could just fall apart for no reason. ~