Speechless in Buenos Aires [Day 60 Jun 6]

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

I’ve been on the road for about 2 months and not being able to speak the local language hasn’t been that much of a problem for me.

But when I went out on the streets of Buenos Aires, I realized that not being able to understand Spanish is not an option here.

I figured that English is widely used in Buenos Aires. I keep reading stories about how Spanish-learners kept getting responses in English so I thought I could survive a while with only knowing how to count to 10 and ask for the toilet.

But I found out the hard way that the only place where people would speak to me in English is in my hostel. Dios mio!

I did take Spanish-for-fun lessons in Singapore because of a cheap Groupon. My favourite line from the class was, “What is your favorite color.” I suppose it’s good as a pick up line and for buying presents for people.

Let me summarize my Spanish fails in the next segment which I’ve enthusiastically call:

#Bilingualsummer achievement

If you remember, #bilingualsummer is a self-imposed period of intensive learning of a foreign language.

O Asked for SUBE in Spanish, retreat when didn’t understand shopowner.

O Understood 20% of hostel employee’s speech about heater in the room.

O Didn’t understand anything Movistar employee said about getting a SIM card but understand that I didn’t need to pay anything.

X Keep mixing up gracias with grazie. Damn you Italian.

X Keep trying to use French to replace Spanish. Apparently it does not work.

Other strange things that happened

Being  person who was raised in the tropic, I am defenceless against cold weather. I didn’t realize how cold Buenos Aires could get in winter until I checked my Weather app.

Buenos Aires weather
Buenos Aires weather

Uh oh… Somebody is in trouble.

But I do have enough clothes to layer on so I was quite warm when I went out. What I didn’t realize was that the exposed area between the end of my skirt and knee-length socks would be assaulted by the wind.

I tried not to care and went to sit on a bench in front of the congress building. Then something wet dropped on me. I realized that it was bird poop. I should buy lottery because this means good luck.

Thank goodness there wasn’t anyone around me or I would think that it’s one of the bird poop scams.

I took out some money from the ATM (charged a crazy 0.038% transaction fee–on top of my Singapore bank fee) I had to come back to the hostel and type away until past noon when the sun.

At night, the hostel had a BBQ (A$70). The BBQ pit was enormous and was roasting slabs of meat. Slabs of meat, I repeat.

The strangest thing was that I didn’t have as much meat as I thought I could. Maybe I was still jet lagged or the smell of meat was too much to endure.

Until next time!

Which country did you have the most difficult time communicating with locals?

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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