There are many things to hate about Buenos Aires, however there are many more reasons to love Buenos Aires. This city, like every other city in the world, is not perfect, and I will outline some of the problems I have with it.
I don’t like to dwell on the bad, not in life nor in my writing, but you should have a non-biased view of the city. So here you are. . .
5. Disgustingly Dirty Streets and Sidewalks
Ever stepped in a pile of dog shit and thought ‘who the fuck would be such an asshole to leave this steaming pile on the sidewalk’? Well many in Buenos Aires see picking up after their pet as being below them. The sidewalks are littered with ‘regalitos’ or ‘little gifts’. On top of all the ‘regalitos’, there’s also piles of stinky, rotting, disgusting garbage on every other corner. At times, it’s so bad that you can smell it from your cab, never-mind while you’re walking by it. All of this adds up to an unpleasant setting for any pedestrian.
4. Nothing Works
It’s 38C outside and you want to run your AC? Good luck, there’s probably a black out. It’s raining out and you want to catch up on some work, creep on one of your beautiful friends, or read your favourite blog? Try again later, the internet will undoubtedly be down. It’s a beautiful day and you want to go to Tigre to enjoy the tributaries and sun? Sorry, the train conductors are on strike. You are running low on business cards and want some sent from the USA? Ha ha ha, not going to happen. I think they would arrive faster if a member of the former Pony Express delivered them personally after riding all the way down from Maine.
All this goes to say that you can’t count on anything. Problems happen in this city, and you have to roll with them. The problems are so frequent, that you essentially just need to laugh about them, and write a blog post poking fun at the ridiculousness of it all.
3. Lack of Accessible Outdoors
The parks in Buenos Airs are world class. Past that, however, there really is no refuge from the concrete jungle. The river is a polluted mess, and the closest beach is about 4 hours away by bus, and it’s not the prettiest beach you’ve ever seen. Argentina has some of the most stunning mountains in the world, however they take over eight hours in a car to get to.
I come from Calgary, Canada, a city that has one of the best fly fishing rivers in the world running through it, the Bow, and a stunningly beautiful mountain playground called The Rockies only 45 minutes away. I can literally get on my bike, ride for a couple of hours, and be surrounded by some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world. A two hour bike ride from Buenos Aires and you will not have encountered even 50 metres of elevation gain. The landscape is so uninspiring that you will be wishing you were hit by an oncoming truck in order to end the monotony.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, but it does not offer easy day trips or easily accessible natural wonder. I have become accustomed to these luxuries back home, and it’s one of the things I hate about Buenos Aires.
I live in a safe, upper-middle class neighbourhood, and generally feel quite safe. However, it has become second nature for me to take precautions. Every time I leave the house I ask myself ‘what do I need to take with me?’ and leave everything else at home. I was out for a walk tonight to get some fresh air, and didn’t plan on talking with anyone or buying anything so I just brought the bare minimum of cash, and left my cell phone at home. Nothing happened, but I witnessed two thieves scoping out potential victims. They were definitely working together, dressed in black, and ready to rob the unsuspecting. Thankfully I noticed them, crossed the street, and avoided anything happening. I doubt, however, that everyone tonight was as aware or lucky as I was.
All this goes to say that it’s a dangerous city. It’s probably comparable to a 1980’s New York City. It’s not Sao Paolo or Johannesburg dangerous, but it’s still not a completely safe place. I’ve heard numerous stories of robberies, and occasional stories of random beatings. There’s violence in the city, I just have thankfully not been a direct victim to it.
The insecurity changes your habits, and is always in the back of your head. Whether it changes your mode of transport, what you take with you out the door, or where you go, you’re always aware of the insecurity – and that sucks.
1. Money Problems
The only thing that makes the cost of living in Buenos Aires more affordable is the underground currency exchange, or the blue market rate. The parallel market exchange rate, or blue rate, has been a part of the Argentine landscape of life since the psycho president, Cristina Kirchner, banned currency exchange in the country in 2011. This has created problems for everyone from the major corporations (which many have fled,) to locals wanting to have secure savings, to expats wanting to get a fair rate for their dollars or euros. In order to get this fair rate you need to visit a cueva (literally translated as ‘cave’, but it has become the term for an exchange house.) This also means that you have to carry in US dollars in cold hard cash, and make trips to Uruguay or Chile when your dollars are low in order to restock. If you don’t, then you are paying the government’s rate when you take money out at a cash machine. This means you are giving 50% of the value of your hard earned money to the backwards government running Argentina into the ground. The fact that you need to plan an entire day around exchanging money is a major inconvenience, and can be a bit of a danger when you consider you are carrying large sums of money in an insecure country.
There you have it, my ‘5 Things to Hate About Buenos Aires.’ I got it out of my system, and now I’m going to continue with my love affair with the city. Every good relationship needs a good vent every once in a while. This was mine. Come and enjoy Buenos Aires, but keep the above five points in mind.