lessons from argentina (so far)

1. Don’t go anywhere in a hurry; the bus won’t come, there will be a traffic jam/street closure/picket of the highway etc., or someone will (gasp!) try to pay with a credit card that requires calling to validate…

2. Waiters in restaurants are not trying to earn your tips and thus do not care about serving you; be proactive and learn how to waive them down or simply stand up and approach the bar to ask for what you need

3. Always look down while you walk unless you want to sprain your ankle, fall on your face, or carry the delicious aroma of dog excrement on your shoes (it is everywhere because for some reason, pet owners do not feel responsible for cleaning it up)

4. Cheek kisses are always acceptable (even between men) and even expected, otherwise you are just being rude

5. Bug smashing is a daily exercise, unless you want the company in bed with you

6. Learn to love meat (or pretend you do) – this is the land of plenty

7. Take pleasure in simple joys (like finally finding soy milk in the random Chinese supermarket after weeks of searching) – although there is no guarantee it will be in stock next week

*Note: Argentina is one of the world’s major soy producers, but it is all exported

8. Sundays are days of rest and time with family…most places you would like to be open given you work full time Monday through Friday are closed and there is nothing you can do about it (including the gym)

9. Learn to stay up late if you want a social life (still a work in progress for me); this requires sleeping in late or just plain functioning on less sleep

10. Candies and Band Aids are acceptable forms of change in the absence of actual money

11. Prices change monthly with inflation at a staggering 30%+ per year, but this will never stop the Argentines from going out and enjoying a good meal

12. There is an “ia” for almost everything (panaderia = bakery, fiambreria = meat and cheese shop, heladeria = ice cream parlor, cerrajeria = locksmith, fruteria = fruit shop); small, specialty stores are on every street corner (take that Wal Mart!)

13. Overall, Argentinians are the most welcoming, hospitable people with an amazing resilience and strength to be admired and despite the culture shock and many differences I have experienced, and I truly blessed to call this country my home

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