Random Observations: A Porteña’s View

I’ve been posting some random observations of my time here in Buenos Aires for the past few weeks.  There have been a lot of cultural and societal differences that I’ve observed as well as many unique ways of doing things here.  It’s been an interesting experience to say the least.

Last weekend I went to dinner with Henry, a new expat, and his friend Nora, a porteña (the word for a BsAs local), who lived in the U.S for ten years.  One of the nice things about having her at dinner was that I could ask some questions about stuff I still did not understand.  One of the questions I asked her is how you’re supposed to order in the local pasta shops here. These small shops have all sorts of fresh pasta on display and a menu of options. I didn’t understand if they made it there or you took it home to cook it and what your options are. (It seems you can do either.)

She mentioned how she found it amusing that things she takes for granted take awhile for foreigners like us to grasp. She also told an interesting story about when she first moved to the U.S. and had to mail a letter.  She went up to the mailbox on the corner with her letter and was a bit confused. She circled it a couple of times. A policeman across the street looked at her with a bit of suspicion.  Finally, after a few minutes, a passerby realized her problem, and showed her how to open the mailbox – by pulling the (nearly hidden) handle down and slipping your letter in.

She knew exactly how we felt here. Something you take for granted all your life can be pretty difficult for someone who’s never seen it before. So, while I may seem a bit naive, I’ll keep posting my random observations.  Hopefully they’ll help someone else be able to open a mailbox or order in a pasta shop.