1. Well obviously, I walk like I own the place.
This is pretty standard no matter where I go. I adopted this habit in the sixth grade when Tyra taught the contestants on America’s Next Top Model how to walk (one foot in front of the other). I like to think I’m especially good at this because of my brief stint with high school gymnastics, in which I specialized in the balance beam, where one-foot-in-front-of-the-other is really the only option.
Additionally, I have a tendency to walk looking straight ahead, headphones in, hair blowing, not acknowledging a single cat call or “yumm” on the street. This comes with just being a confident bitch. It’s pretty much out of a movie, or at least an episode of Sex and the City.
2. I know the prime spots and methods of public transportation.
People ask me for directions. Mind you I can never really direct them, but at least they ask, so that means I look like I know what I am doing. Regardless, if you’re going to take the Collectivo (bus), as I do almost everyday, it is wise to try to score a seat so as not to fall when you get a manic driver. The preferable seats are the solo ones in the back next to the window (because God knows its always damn hot in those things). If you cannot find a seat, I advise standing in the back of the Collectivo for two reasons: people forget it exists and crowd the front, and the ventilation is better. You can also take the Subte but I dislike it because the air smells bad, its even hotter, it costs $.80 pesos more, and worst of all, there are never any seats.
3. People see me walk a dog, which they assume to be mine.
Taking a dog out in the city is a lot more of a chore than you’d expect; I mean, it’s not actually that bad I’m just lazy. But anyway, sometimes I get saddled with taking our pipsqueak out to pee in the morning, in which case I corral him into the elevator, descend six floors, then saunter around the sidewalk obstructing traffic for five minutes waiting for him to pee. I usually carry a plastic bag but if he poos on a tree, I don’t feel obligated to dig between the roots to pick it up. Anyway, I figure if people see me dragging a dog through the streets they’ll figure he’s mine, in which case I would have to live here… or something.
4. I cross the street like a bad ass (i.e. without the walk sign).
I’m sorry but nobody is going to hit you if you cross the street when you’re not supposed to. Alexa saw one woman get taken out once but I figure she had to have been a sitting target. I know how to play the game just right- that even though the stop light has turned red, the walk icon won’t come on for a couple seconds after, at which point I’m already half way across the avenue. Whatever, I believe in the pedestrian right of way, as long as I’m not driving.
5. I have an outspoken political opinion.
I have to be honest, I don’t care about politics all that much in the United States. I’m an opinionated person by nature, so on issues I have opinions, but I could care less about politicians themselves. But here, I’m like a friggen activist. Politics is so damn in your face that it’s hard not to be: protests all day everyday baby.
6. I eat an entire food group consisting of “Things with Dulce de Leche.”
Bread, bananas, apples, coffee, cake, cookies, crackers, Oreos, chocolate, ice-cream and of course in solid forms as well as just straight spoonfuls of the deliciousness itself.
7. I know, and frequent the rare spots around the city where you can get food or coffee to go.
Because the Buenos Aires community is so laid back and relaxed, it is almost unheard of to take anything to go. Its customary to spend 3 hours at dinner and then wait another 20 minutes for the check. So naturally, to-go is a new thing, and Cafe Martinez is all excited and advertising that they now have coffee to go (Starbucks is the only other option). This is still bizarre because there’s literally delivery for every possible food under the sun; I prefer sushi.
Conclusion: Hit up a buffet if you need lunch to go (Spring is a personal favorite), and stick to Starbucks for your midday, before class coffee. (Dunkin Donuts does not exist, not that I would ever go there over Starbucks anyway.)
8. I receive Valentines and know that I am not invited to keep them.
This bizarre phenomenon of giving out Valentine’s really had me puzzled at first. Mothers and children walk around malls, restaurants, busses, and subways, handing out Valentines, which is actually their way of asking you to give them your spare change, and in exchange you can keep the Valentine.
In these situations, it is also extremely common to be sold other things you don’t need: city maps, socks(always socks), the occasional wallet, the ID protecter. I’m waiting for the day it’ll be a pack of tissues. I was told in orientation that a pack of tissues was commonly sold on collectivos, and god dammit I would actually buy those.