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Navigating Buenos Aires, Argentina (Part 2)

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As part 2 of our series on how to navigate Buenos Aires, you'll learn even more about what to expect when you explore the city. See part 1 for information about introducing yourself and public transportation.

Walking Around (continued)

Regarding getting lost, locals are somewhat hesitant to help at first because they think you’re trying to sell them something, or worse, steal something, but whenever someone realized that I had an American accent, they helped me right away or even told me the directions in English if they could. 

Also keep in mind that dogs are by far the favorite pet here. While that’s normally not a problem, many individuals hire people to walk them around the city and there are very few parks for them to use. Since these dog walkers often have upwards of 8 dogs at a time, most of the time they don't happen to notice the *presents* that the dogs leave behind on the sidewalk. And I can only tell you horror stories as to what happens when it rains or you're not looking down while walking. (It may be a good time to mention that you should probably pack a second pair of shoes in your packable duffel.)

As a side note, you probably know that tango is really huge there. Even if you're walking down the street, you're likely to see street performers dancing tango; in one case, a man had created a puppet that imitated a woman doing tango. It was quite amusing. You can learn tango or salsa at the universities as well as many other local venues.

On another occasion, I happened upon a plaza where several musical groups were playing, including a Native American group that was composed of two men dressed up in their full traditional regalia and using native instruments, many of which seemed to mimic nature's sounds like the wind or the call of a bird. I hadn’t heard anything like it before, so you never know what you’ll run into when you’re walking down the street.

You should also know that a lot of Argentine men are really forward compared with those in the US. Mostly Argentine girls know just to ignore them, but they’ll try to get your attention by saying how good you look, or that you shouldn’t be walking alone on the streets, or even try to speak English if they figure out you’re a foreigner. However, my Argentine friends always reminded me that it's not really worth the risk trying to get to know a guy you just met on the street, even if he seems really nice. (If you just need a few essentials, a personal bra stash is a good way to conceal your belongings.)

Shopping

Finally, many of the clothing stores had "Liquidacion!!!" written across their front windows. Well, to an American audience, “liquidation” means that the store is closing. However, in Argentina it just meant that there was a sale, and they often had crazy numbers like 40% and 50% off. Still, those discounts seemed to stay up all season, so I am not sure if any of them had actual sales, or if it was just a ploy to get people inside. Regardless, most of the clothes and shoes you’ll find are much cheaper than anything you’ll buy in the US, so you might as well check it out.

Cabildo Avenue was really near to my host family's apartment, and it had lots of cafes, clothing shops, electronics stores, shoe stores, grocery shops, etc. In many Argentine stores, the shop's wares (whether it's cell phones, shoes or clothes) are displayed in a glass case on both sides of the entrance way so not only can you see their supplies, but you can see also the prices without going inside. (Make it easy on yourself by getting a clutch so you can keep your cash and credit cards organized.)

While I was there, I managed to find lots of cute clothes, like a cute gray peacoat, light sweaters, shirts, and some beautifully intricate scarves. I also found books in English (which seemed like a slice of heaven in a place that didn’t speak my native language), and of course a cell phone. I also liked to buy Japanese-inspired trinkets, which seemed to be all over the place. 

In Buenos Aires, you’ll be able to find something you like whether you’re in Chinatown or on the main strip. 

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