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Common mistakes travelers make in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jed Rothenberg

By | December 9, 2011 | 1 comment

common mistakes made traveling in Argentina

Traveling to Buenos Aires? There are a few things you should know before arriving that may help save you a great deal of face or avoid a potentially life scaring, embarrassing situation. Here’s some traveler advice that will hopefully keep you out of hot water (pun intended, see #1).

Letters are opposite in the Southern hemisphere

1. “C” does not mean “Cold”

In the morning when you are half asleep and facing the challenges of bathing, you will find two mysterious knobs in most showers and sinks here in Buenos Aires. That “C” is not for “cold”- remind the morning version of yourself that Spanish is spoken here and “C” represents “Caliente” or hot. “F” for “frio” or cold.

On a related note, when dealing with that bastard of a water heater see our tricks for Buenos Aires winter living.

2. “M” does not mean “Men”

Strolling to the bathrooms is generally a mundane task unless you are getting lucky. If you are a few glasses of Malbec or Fernet deep, make note to turn that M upside down and that “M “stands for “Mujeres,” or women, and not “Men’s Room”.

No, you’re not getting ripped off

3. The Mythical $40 Pesos Boca Ticket

After reading a few smart-guy blog entries complaining about an “exuberant” mark up regarding Boca tickets, it’s time we shed a bit of light on the topic. There are no $40 pesos Boca tickets- at least not for you. Boca tickets are a lot like cocaine – there’s a high demand, limited supply, they pass through several hands and inflate in price at each tier, that is, unless you know someone.

Most AFA (Argentinean Football Association) stadiums offer public sales of tickets a few days before the game. Boca does as well, but gives priority to their 60,000+ club members. Additionally, the vast majority of the cheap seats (“Popular” section) tickets are sold through the team’s fan base or hooligans as a reward for their energetic displays and loyalty. Check out Al Jazeera’s video report on the topic.

Additionally, there are only 49,000 seats for the 60,000+ club members, not to mention the droves of fans that pass on buying season pass access to La Bombonera (Boca’s home stadium). So you see why your suspicions should be rising when a ticket price is anything close to $40 pesos. The demand is high and the supply is limited in a corrupt system.

Finally, the $40 pesos tickets are almost always sold through the hooligans to other brokers and then to hostels or other brokers and then to you, the traveler. If you were to have a grade-A, pure contact, direct from a “La Doce” hooligan – you would pay around $125 pesos. A friend of a hooligan would pay $150-$200 pesos. Now add in transportation to and from the stadium, bilingual guides, beer/hamburgers, and a guarantee on your ticket…you see why these games are “so marked up” through companies that make things so easy for travelers.

*Careful: The amount of counterfeit Boca tickets sold are increasing each game because the tickets are so easy to forge. They are simple, thick paper in the shape of a card or subway pass with a magnetic strip on the back. Know your source well – even hostels have ended up with fakes.

Summary for those too lazy or that suffer from internet A.D.D.: We are low level, legit cocaine dealers. Get your Boca Tickets! Boca Tickets here!

Beware, there’s slang

4. Coger does not mean “To Take”

In most Spanish speaking nations the word “coger” means “to take” or “to pick up,” but in Argentina it is widely used as slang for making it, getting your bang-bang on, jazzercizing your basement goods, hiding the chorizo, introducing the turkey baster to the mashed potatoes and so on.

There are a few other words you should be careful using here. Check out the Embarrassing Moments in Spanish series if you’re interested.

5. Concha does not mean shell

In Spanish many females are named Conchita…in Argentina their name will suck.

If you’re on the beach, for god’s sake do not mention you love looking for “conchas”. Concha means pussy here. La concha de tu hermana, la concha del mono….you’ll here a variety of curses using this essential curse word.

For a funny way to learn some other curses, check out the Swearing in Spanish Translated series


6. Cabarets don’t have free sex

Some of the more entertaining stories I’ve heard over the years are regarding drunk friends being gently coaxed into “boobie” traps with enticing siren song lyrics containing those magic words “free sex”. Let me summarize these honey traps for you. If you see or hear the following, walk away.
-Stairs leading downward into mirrored or black light ambiance
-Promises of free entry or free sex, free strip show, etc

If you do not heed my warnings and you find yourself in the above situation the following will happen in likely this order:

1. You stumble into a low light lounge smelling of aerosol freshness or incense.
2. One or two semi-attractive girls will enter and begin flirting with you.
3. Girls will complain about being treated poorly to win your affections while ordering drinks.
4. Drinks arrive and girls begin teasing you whilst ordering something to eat or more drinks.
5. After either 5 minutes or 5 hours you sober up and realize the flirting or strip show will never lead to anything and decide to go and pursue some “real action”
6. The check arrives
7. You look puzzled at the fact that there is a bill that has arrived……the bill is for $1200 pesos
8. You decline to pay the inflated invoice for such mediocrity and false advertising
9. Enter a large bouncer nicknamed “Gorilla Egg”
10. “Gorilla Egg” escorts you to the nearest ATM and you pay the bill

Timing is everything

7. It’s 6:30 pm, I’m hungry. Let’s go get something to eat!

Restaurant and cafe chefs vanish between 4pm to 7:30pm. Your choices will be healthy McDonalds, tostado mixto (toasted ham and cheese sandwiches) at a cafe or the leftover medialunas (croissants). Buenos Aires residents eat dinner late. Time to assimilate.

8. Fashionably late squared

Parties, social events, meeting up at a bar- once you have lived here for more than 3 months you will be guilty of the same- showing up late. Argentineans are notoriously late and for someone who is always late this is awesome. I am no longer the latest one in the bunch. Be patient young traveling grasshoppers, if the party starts at 10 pm, show up at 12 midnight.

So there you have it- some good tips to keep you from looking like a bonehead. For more info on how to not look like a bumbling tourist check out the subtle Good Gringo, Bad Gringo series.

Travel safe and find the off the beaten track!

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  1. Martin

    03/05/2012 - 2:09 pm

    Great article and tips!!

    If you want an early dinner from Tuesday to Saturday you can get to HG, the kitchen doesn’t close in the afternoons (with the exception of Sundays and Mondays, when it’s closed from 4PM).