Five Bizarre Behaviors In Buenos Aires

Thursday, December 24, 2009

If you’re thinking of hopping a flight to Buenos Aires in order to escape the snow or cold, I have some things to point out. I am not writing this to critique Argentine culture, but as a heads-up to travelers. Even though I read a lot about Buenos Aires before living here, it seems that I may have skipped over these tips.

In no specific order, the bizarre behaviors of porteños are:

No. 1: Porteños kiss everyone as a greeting and farewell. Whether it is woman to woman, man to woman, man to man, just one kiss, right cheek to right cheek will help you blend in. Don´t be frightened if an Argentine leans in for a beso.

No. 2: Some days you will be walking down the street and see young people covered in a) paint, or b) egg and flour. I have no idea what kind of initiation or ritual this is, apparently it happens in a lot of Latin American cities and towns. Here, it happens a lot. (UPDATE: Turns out this has to do with celebrating university.)

No. 3: Dodging dog poop is a fact of life. In fact, scooping poop is the third most important issue in an election. Currently, the government has a campaign, jugálimpio, to try and encourage people to clean up after their dogs. My advice: scan the sidewalks before you step.

No. 4: Change, coin, centavos are a rarity, but are vital to taking the colectivo (the bus) anywhere. Vendors, store owners, or people on the street are reluctant to make coin. They will even give you more money back if it means holding onto their centavos. Just remember to keep your change whenever you can. Wonder why? Check out this bizarre explanation.

No. 5: Last, but not least, ladies be warned, cat-calling and wolf-whistling is everywhere. Even the slightest feminist-sympathizer may get angry or frightened, but do not be, most of the calls are harmless. That is not to say you should be wandering around alone at night in all neighborhoods. Just don´t let the calls bother you, it´s a cultural thing. Let me put it this way, even the buses can wolf-whistle.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog,

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