10 Things I Miss About Buenos Aires
Now that I am back in the US, people are constantly asking me if I am happy to be home. My usual answer is “In the US, usually, in St. Louis, not really. (More on my love/hate relationship with St. Louis here.) Overall, I am happy to be back in the US, but there are still many things I miss about my second home. Here are some of things that occasionally make me homesick for my beloved Buenos Aires.
1. Ice cream
No one who knows me should be surprised that this tops the list. Argentine ice cream is simply divine. It’s not just that the ice cream is incredible, it’s also that it is available basically everywhere. There were days when I would get ice cream two or three times, just because I was passing by an ice cream shop that was too good to say no to. Plus, you could buy artesian ice cream by the KILO! I used to pride myself on buying ice cream like a druggie might buy crack – by the kilo and straight from the source. Argentina fed my addiction so wonderfully.
2. Public Transportation
I cannot stress this enough. Buenos Aires may not have the most up-to-date or sophisticated public transportation system, but it was pretty freaking good. The subway ran all over the city and was actually fairly reliable. The buses were a bit sketchy, depending on the line, but they ran 24/7 and would take you basically anywhere you needed to go. Sure, commute times were often an hour, but the I’d rather pay a couple of pesos to have someone else drive me around for an hour than pay 10 bucks in gas to sit in traffic in my own car. Every time I pay absurd amounts of money to fill up my tank, get stuck in a traffic jam, or get cut off by a distracted driver, my heart longs for Buenos Aires.
I loved living in a hub city. Although none of my friends from back home could ever afford the flight, I met up with a lot of different travelers while abroad. All I had to do was watch twitter and I’d find fellow bloggers who planned to pass through. I spent over a month hanging out with Ayngelina and Stephanie. I became great friends with Abby, Michael, and Stephanie. I even hosted a tweet-up in my apartment. Since I live in the Midwest now, I don’t see a lot of visitors. No one really plans to pass through here.
Even though I am back in the US, I still speak Spanish basically every day. Whether I’m teaching preschoolers, translating for a law firm, or just chatting with my boyfriend, I get my Spanish practice in. What I don’t get, however, is my castellano fix. Although many people who have studied Spanish or even native Spanish speakers condemn the Argentine version of Spanish, Castellano, as a stuck-up, confusing, or even annoying accent, I truly came to love it. Sometimes I long to hear vos instead of tú, chau instead of adios, and all those familiar slang terms I came to understand and use during my time abroad.
5. Fellow Expats
There seems to be some sort of special bond between people who have chosen to leave their native land for another. While living in Buenos Aires, I became close friends with people from Ireland, Sweden, Colombia, Canada, England, Chile, and so many other countries. I once had a pot-luck dinner and realized every single person there was from a different country. Buenos Aires is full of expatriates from all around the world, which created a cultural diversity I miss so much. I know some cities in the US would offer something similar, diversity wise, but St. Louis is certainly not one of them.
6. Bakeries (panaderías)
I could barely make it a few blocks in Buenos Aires without smelling fresh-baked bread. I adored my neighborhood bakery, with its delicious whole-grain bread, decadent medialunas, and cheesy chipas that were only made on the weekends. Here in St. Louis, I have to hunt down artesian bakeries and make a special trip to buy fresh bread. The bread is tasty, but there are no medialunas or chipas to be enjoyed.
The first time I went to Argentina, I went to a boliche (Argentine dance club) and absolutely hated it. However, I eventually realized that it was the men, not the dancing, that turned me off. Once I found the right club with perfect music and laid-back people, I came to love dancing. Dancing in the US, especially in St. Louis, seems to be associated with people who drink a lot and sleep around. I, however, just really freaking love to dance. I miss starting the night at 1am and going home at 5. Dancing in the US just isn’t the same.
Wine is so delicious and cheap and Argentina. It was so easy to pick up a really high quality Malbec for the equivalent of maybe 3 or 4 bucks. I drank so much wine in Argentina that I carried a toothbrush and toothpaste with me when I went out to take care of purple wine teeth. The wine is that good.
I chose my move date to Argentina based on the World Cup games. I was lucky enough to be living in Mendoza for the 2006 World Cup, so I scheduled my 2010 move to Argentina to make sure I would see at least 2 Argentina games in the country. The energy of fútbol fans is simply incredible. I love the enthusiasm, the ridiculous jerseys, and familiar chants. I love it all. I openly cheered for Argentina over the US team and didn’t feel the least bit bad about it. Fútbol just means so much to Argentines, it’s simply wonderful.
10. My friends
This should really go without saying, but I have to say it anyway. Of course, when I was in Argentina I missed my US friends and I will always miss absent friends no matter where I am. However, I cannot finish this article without paying tribute to my wonderful friends in Argentina that I miss so much. I’m even going to play favorites and name names. I desperately miss Jorge, Magu, and the Chois. The Chois were an expat family I met my first week in Buenos Aires. I started out as a babysitter for their 3 and 7 year old and eventually became their personal assistant, homeschool instructor, and just a part of the family. I crashed with them between apartments, I spent American holidays like Thanksgiving with them, and I stayed late after dinner to play Wii with the boys. Leaving them was very difficult, and I miss them all the time.
Magu and Jorge were my very best friends in Argentina. You can read all about how Jorge and I met, but the point is, we were a great team. Jorge was my person I could call at 3am, though he was usually the one doing the calling, often to tell me I needed to watch a Batman trailer or something equally ridiculous. Magu was my proof that not all Argentine girls are mean. Many fellow BA expats can attest to the fact that making local friends is rough, especially with local girls, as they are very cliquey and sometimes downright bitchy. The first time Magu invited me to hang out with just her, I felt like a nerd who had been invited to sit at the cool table. I miss going to the movies with her and buying absurd amounts of candy. I miss learning how to dance at Bonodori Japanese festivals. I miss celebrating Christmas Argentine style with Magu’s mom and Jorge. I miss them all!
I’ll always miss bits and pieces of Buenos Aires, and I hope to someday return for an extended visit. I’m happy to be back in the US, but I know a part of my heart will always be in Argentina.