Friday, January 22, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the beef comes from a cow that's not a cow

I am in Buenos Aires (BA) this week for work.  It's been a truly horrible week for me since last Friday - I lost my loved one as well as one good talent & one poor performer on my team. 

Regardless, I tried my best to see BA the way I normally would as a visitor not coping with loss.

I quite like the city - it is not as underdeveloped as I had thought and locals are really friendly to me.  Generally I feel safe (because I have not visited the dangerous La Boca neighborhood yet - going in 1 hour), and some neighbourhoods are truly special, with a lot of character in people's homes.  I managed to get around with my super broken portugues - which most locals don't really understand - and English.  I get plenty of stares on the street, being a single Asian (attractive?! ha) female.  Men here have wandering eyes.

While most taxi drivers don't bother trying to communicate with me apart confirming that I am staying at Emperador Hotel on Libertado Avenue - yesterday a jolly old man did.  He tried to tell me random things and ask me questions like:
- I was very tall for Chinese girl
- Plenty of parks in BA - very beautiful (linda!)
- He liked Chinese food, and there was a Chinese restaurant he always went to in the neighborhood
- There were ducks in the pond we passed by.  Ducks, not swans.  (Pato!  I thought of Patinho Feio - ugly duckling)
- There were fish in the sea in. ____  - he drew a fish on a piece of paper and I said "ah peixinho!"  ("ah fishie!")  which amused him so much
- He asked if I was married and if I had any kids.  I said "sobrera" (single).

I had steak (bife de chorizo, ojo de bife) for every meal.  I was accompanied by a friend's workmate for dinner last night and I tried to understand how Argentinians thought of their meat (beef).  I had had a similar conversation with my own colleague yesterday lunch.  Both were in love with beef in Argentina, and said they would never order beef anywhere in the world, not even in Brasil - because the Brasilian beef is too "sweet"!?!  One of them even said that the cows for beef in Brasil were not the same cows in Argentina.  That those were cows but not really cows.....  That I found very amusing and didn't quite understand.

Argentinians are very friendly people, passionate in an open-minded sense but not in a fake manner.  They eat their dinners VERY LATE - often times 9ish/ 10ish.... and they go to bed late.  They love partying and having fun, and surely are good at taking things easy.  The company I was working with this time had their office in a house in a residential neighbourhood.  I had lunch with Andrea - my local colleague - some 5 blocks away from the office, still in that residential area where there was a nice al fresco restaurant facing a park.  We had champagne with our steaks and we talked about life, her relationship, my relationship, her eagerness to realize her dreams before she became 50 and single...  It was lovely.

This Saturday I am flying to Morocco for work.  It's always been a major dream of mine to visit Morocco, so I am very thrilled to be there - at least for my own 3-day break next week in Marrakech.  While I would really love to share the experience with someone very special to me, I believe I could make it like my solo Sri Lanka trip and enjoy it as a soul searching/ calming experience.


  1. I understand that you thought that Argentina was an underdeveloped country. That happened to me too, however when I arrived, I realised that looked actually like a European city.
    Most people do not speak Portuguese, you are right, and one might think they do because they are right next to Brazil, but the truth is that there are more English speakers then Portuguese ones.
    Don´t worry about La Boca, it may seem scary at first, but then you will see that it is only a poor neighborhood but filled with hard-working people. Last year I rented an apartment in buenos aires near it and it turned out perfectly fine.
    you are lucky that you get to go to Morocco, I believe that will be my next destination.
    Have fun!

  2. Yes, Summer, it was very European. I did like La Boca, and I sort of wish I could have gone there without any company, so that I could take my time taking pictures, and walk around freely.

    How long did you stay there for? Please tell me more about your stay!! I was there for work, and was also under a lot of personal stress so I didn't get a chance to explore it as much as I normally would.

    Morocco is a truly awesome country. In fact, Brasil is also at the top of my list! I LOVED Brasil so much.