Random Observations: Weeks 9 & 10

Ok, we’ve been slacking…well, not really slacking, we’ve been working hard, but work has unfortunately interefered with my ability to post as often as I would like. The move to BsAs was supposed to help reduce our workload, but right now it seems like we’re working as hard as ever.  Anyhow, we’ve made this week’s update a bit longer, so now on to the next installment of…

Random Observations: Week 9 and Week 10

  • This column is about the many cultural differences we’ve noticed in our time here. As I’ve said before, a lot of the things we talk about are gross generalizations and may be a bit oversimplified, but we’re just presenting our views.  Well, one interesting thing that came up in several discussions over the past couple of weeks was that with all the cultural differences, it was very easy for all of us to adapt to one thing…money.Yes, one of our reasons for coming here was that the dollar goes a bit farther, but it didn’t take us any time to start complaining about a $75 peso meal per person that we thought was a bit pricey (U$24 each), even though it included appetizer, a couple of bottles of wine, entree and dessert.  We would have thought that was a great deal in New York  Also, as soon as we heard that 10% was the acceptable amount for tipping your waiter, we quickly adjusted to that from the standard 20% in NYC.  No second thoughts.  And tipping taxi drivers, it’s almost unheard of, except for leaving them the extra change.  The other night I tried to give the taxi driver an extra $2 peso tip and he gave it back to me – pointing to the meter as if I had read it wrong. Ok…no more tipping then.So, with all the cultural experiences and adjustments, it’s nice to know that one thing really required no adjustment at all. (So long as it was decreased and not increased spending I guess.)  We may now have to adjust when we head back home.
  • Empanadas are everywhere!  They have empanada speciality stores; they’re delivered by the pizza places; sold in diners, grocery stores, pasta stores, etc.  I’ve eaten more empanadas in my time here, than throughout the rest of my life.  I initially thought all empanadas were the same, and bought them from the supermarket at least once a week, but then last week we had empanadas from Gourmet Empanada and I realized what I’ve been missing. I know now that I will never be able to eat a supermarket empanada again.
  • Buenos Aires still has a lot of old world charm.  Here’s a couple of the things I’ve especially enjoyed:
    • They still deliver coffee and lunch on trays to people. The coffees are in ceramic mugs and not paper cups, so I assume they also have to come back and pick them up. I’m sure throwing your sandwich (or empanada) in a plastic bag would be more efficient that using a tray too, but it would lose a lot of its charm.
    • A lot of the buildings still have old style elevators.  They’re very elegant contraptions where you have to close and open the doors yourself. Takes some getting used to, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly.
  • Almost every restaurant will serve you bread before your meal, but they almost never include butter.  Does everyone just eat plain bread?
  • A pretty funny billboard we came across ->
  • There are no half sizes in shoes here. Everything is only sold in full sizes. Now, I’m a 10 so that works for me, but Mersal is a 7 1/2, so she’s been having a difficult time.
  • Mother’s Day (Dia de la Madre) is this Sunday, October 19th.  It’s the third Sunday of October, while in the U.S. it’s the third Sunday of May, but they’re both right in the heart of the spring. Remember to call your mother!
  • I haven’t seen any screened windows in apartments here. All of our widows just open to the outside and now that it’s spring, we’ve had a lot more bugs, including a mosquito that got me about 10 times while I was sleeping the other night.  We’ll have to figure out what to do.
  • There is construction everywhere here.  I have heard that the government has cracked down on new building, but it would be hard to tell with scaffolding on almost every block and cranes all over the place. The face of this city changes every day.  I’m not sure what the building codes are like here, but the scaffolding and supports don’t look very secure.  Hopefully that doesn’t translate into the construction too.