Thursday, May 28, 2009

a bit of reading...

I recently read two interesting articles about Buenos Aires - the city, its culture, and history. I thought I would share both of them:  

The first one is from the current issue of Smithsonian magazine:

It talks a bit about the expat scene in Buenos Aires, which has been getting a lot of attention recently. One often hears, "Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America"; most people agree that this is little more than a marketing ploy. One also hears, "Buenos Aires is like Prague in the 1990s", or right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I'm not sure about this one either - if you mean a vibrant artistic and cultural scene paired with a weaker currency, then fine. But I think that's as far as the comparison goes. But then again, ¿qué sé yo? (Sidenote: this is one of my favourite expressions. It basically means, "What do I know?", but the manner in which Argentines say it - accompanied with the Italian-esque hand gesture - it's usually closer in meaning to "What the hell do I know?" It's very informal, and can be considered rude - so it's not advisable to say it to your boss, professor, or grandmother, for example. Everyone else is fair game. At least I think.)

The comment in the first page about the prevalence of English is a bit misleading - yes, if you hang out exclusively in Palermo, you will hear English quite a bit, and mostly of the American (United States) brand. But once you get out of the Palermo bubble - and you must - you're less likely to hear English. As for the businesses set up by expats - I've been to the Natural Deli twice, and have enjoyed it both times. It's a bit more expensive (at least for my budget) but it's a good place to check out to get some work done and get your fix of vegetables/health food. I haven't been to CBC (California Burrito Company) yet, though I've heard generally good things about it. They've just opened a second branch in Palermo Soho (I believe on Thames, but I'm not sure...) so sooner or later I'll make my way over there. The Argentimes is a great resource - they have a lot of information about upcoming events as well as interesting and pertinent articles about life in Buenos Aires. And finally, I live next door to the Peruvian martini bar, Mosoq. I haven't been there yet - again, a bit out of my budget, and when I do go out to dinner I prefer to go out, and not just right outside my house. 

Here's the link to a second article:

It's an extract from the book, False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World by Alan Beattie. It discusses how the United States and Argentina - which both began the 20th century in a similar position - have developed over the past century, and how different policies have determined their current states. Many people don't realize that in the beginning of the twentieth century, Argentina had just as much appeal as the United States for immigrants from the Old World. Indeed, the similar culture and language of Argentina attracted many Italian and Spanish immigrants (unfortunately, however, the Italian immigrants failed to pass on the recipe for a true Napoletana pizza...¡qué garrón!) 

1 comment:

  1. Hola,

    My name is David and I am an American that just arrived in Buenos Aires for a 3 month stint. I was just looking for blogs by Americans living in Buenos Aires and just spent an hour reading through your posts. Great blog!

    I just flew in this morning and am staying at a homestay. I don't have solid plans for the last two months that I am here and I could sure use some tips from someone like you. For example, the doorman to my residence couldn't stop laughing when he found out how much I paid for a ride from the airport.

    I'm here to work at a worker's co-op in La Matanza, but I have a lot of other things on my to-do list as well (Thus the unplanned two months). I read your post about the hanggliding and that just went on my to do list.

    If you read this message, please drop me an email at At the very least, I would love some pointers on how to find some hanggliders.