No hablo Español but I heart Argentina

2012-10-11 07:50

Madonna’s Evita movie was one of the main reasons I looked forward to visiting Argentina. But there’s so much more to this place than the movie could ever hope to capture.

I don’t speak Spanish to save my life (even the TV shows and movies are translated into Spanish here) but for some reason, I managed to stumble and sign-language my way into getting what I want in town.

I have the basics down pat. Trust me, you can get by with “si”, “no”, “gracias” and “ola”. But I’m picking up loads more words from the porteños (the port’s natives).

For instance, I have learned to ignore shady characters trying to sell me “gambio” – some peso in exchange for the dollar – which is a no-no here. I just say “no, gracias” and walk on by, or do what I do: put on sunglasses and headphones and smile vacuously. It works worldwide.

The first day was a bit strange after I realised that black people were few and far between. Indeed, I even had children stop and point at me while their embarrassed parents tried to shush them.

But gradually I became used to it. No use dwelling on something that won’t change, especially since it didn’t affect my appreciation of the beauty of the place.

I have never been one to go on about architecture and such but you really cannot ignore the wonderful designs of the buildings here, especially the entrances. It’s as if Argentinians save all their creativity to make their entrances as elaborate – and golden – as possible. Paired with the stately buildings, they make for some interesting and picture-perfect sights.

My days have been filled with so much sightseeing that I haven’t even had a chance to take some time for my favourite past-times: shopping and partying. And I’m okay with that. Buenos Aires is not your typical party town – although the nightlife starts really late and people only go to dinner at 10pm.

I have been to the flea market where I was treated to some great street performances that made me dance along, watched as an old couple tangoed in the streets and even a puppet show with so much drama that I just knew it wasn’t appropriate for children.

The restaurants sell my kind of food; the kind that entices you to indulge in your guiltiest pleasures. From copious amounts of meat – whatever time of day – to the most sinful and calorie-laden desserts, courtesy of the local Dulce de Latte.

While the weather has not been ideal – and by ideal I mean scorching hot – that still didn’t prevent my Trafalgar group from exploring what the city has to offer, including dinner at a house belonging to a local family, the Oyuela Palacios whose three children and their cousin played hosts for us, serving us a home-cooked three-course meal while entertaining us with stories about their home town.

A truly amazing experience.

I’m completely in love with this place and I’m only halfway through my trip.

» Mokgadi is a guest of Trafalgar.
» Follow me on Twitter @Mokgads or on Instagram: Mokgadi for more adventures from South America. Follow City Press: @City_Press

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