Today marks my first week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was a bit slow with getting out to explore my surroundings but my impression so far is that this overwhelming, sprawling city has more to offer than I’ll ever be able to absorb.  First observations: the people are wonderfully nice and, admittedly, equally as fashion-savvy, the fruits and vegetables in the markets aren’t of superb quality (I’m sure the meat is, though) and most areas are quite safe, even for a young female traveling alone.

I live in Palermo, more specifically in the hipster-laden area dubbed Palermo Hollywood, which gets its name from the concentration of television and film production studios that arrived in the early 2000s. The architecture, graffiti, fixed gears, tattoos and facial piercings feel more like Brooklyn than the Latin America to which I’m accustomed. I read a lot about the European roots, influence and obvious presence before my arrival, but upon experiencing the culture for myself, I was still a little surprised.  Porteños, as the locals call themselves, linger for hours over cups of coffee in quaint corner cafes and live to dine in the hundreds, maybe thousands of pizzerias dotting the city. But just in time, the mate, public displays of affection, dulce de leche and the grittiness so very characteristic of a growing South American country bring me back. I’m in Buenos Aires, after all.

This city isn’t cheap, at least not coming from Lima where I could live comfortably, but not excessively, on less than $100 dollars a week when times got hard (by hard I mean when food money became club money). Inflation is constantly raising prices here and with a current exchange rate of 4.2 Argentine Pesos to the American Dollar, I’m going to try to live on about $400 Argentine Pesos per week. This means excessive 70 peso meals at Bio, or any other upscale, organic-vegetarian restaurants will be rare. To give an idea of the cost of living I’m going to provide my budget for the past week.

Rent for a furnished studio in Palermo: $650 US per month for 3.5 months with a $400 deposit to be returned when lease ends = $2,675

First week’s grocery bill: (including one-time purchases of herbs, spices and some small housewares) about $300 pesos or $72.

Bio restaurant:

2 fresh fruit and herb juices: $28 pesos
Tofu Mostaza entrée: $44 pesos
10% tip: $7.2 pesos
Total = $80 pesos or about $19 dollars

A corner cafe:

Individual mozzarella pizza with olives: $24 pesos
Coca-Cola Light: $6 pesos
Total including tip = $34 pesos or about $7 dollars


Above are a few examples of the elaborate graffiti covering walls throughout Palermo.

Drinking like a Porteño: Above, a mate gourd and my first bag of yerba mate.

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Comments ( 1 Comment )

Nicely told.

“The architecture, graffiti, fixed gears, tattoos and facial piercings feel more like Brooklyn than the Latin America to which I’m accustomed,” Ernest Hemingway, a Lonely Planet and quite possibly a Moleskine in my pile of books behind the mate. – Looks like you will fit right in.

Joshua Fleming added these pithy words on Sep 07 11 at 11:44 pm

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