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Dulce de leche is the cure-all medication for all times of the day for all you study abroad students and travelers in Buenos Aires, and simply cannot be missed! It is hidden in your morning facturas (pastries), found in the kioscos in the middle of your alfajores, even added to your ice creams, coffees, and to be eaten by the spoonful. Those in our Mente Argentina cooking course have experienced the secret to making that delicious dulce! If your friends or family want a gift from your study abroad experience in Buenos Aires, DDL (dulce de leche) is the ultimate gift to bring on home, an authentic Argentine treat! Here is the 411 on dulce de leche, what it is, where to find it, and how it’s made:
What: Dulce de Leche is a type of caramel, a sticky and sweet Argentine specialty that seems to go in and on just about every breakfast, snack and dessert. Pastries of all shapes and sizes, especially croissants, known as medialunas, are filled with dulce de leche. Every grocery store has at least half an aisle devoted solely to dulce de leche. Right up there with cafe and carne, dulce de leche is an Argentine essential. Spread it on bread, fruit, crepes and just about anything else you can think of!
There are different accounts of how dulce de leche was first made, but the most popular myth (according to Argentineans) seems to be that dulce de leche originated in Argentina in 1829 in Cañuelas, a city in the province of Buenos Aires. The full story can be found here, but our cliffsnotes goes as such: Nearing the end of a war, General Lavalle cane exhausted the General Manuel de Rosas campsite, and finding that Rosas was not there, he took a nap in his tent. Meanwhile, a serving woman was preparing la lechada by heating milk and sugar for the camp, and finding the enemy in the tent, ran off to tell soldiers, forgetting about la lechada cooking on the stovetop. The overcooked lechada had truned brown and jelly-like. The say a brave yet very hungry soldier tried the “ruined” batch of lechada, and as we all know, it must have been a big hit!
Where: DDL in both cookies and cream
Alfajores: Alfajores are a particular kind of argentine cookie, another quintessential Argentine treat, as evidenced by endless array of varieties and impassioned discussions about them. Find them in a kiosco or learn how to make them in your Argentine cooking course in Buenos Aires
The alfajor (pronounced: alfa-hor) is actually a traditional Arabic confection, still called by its original name alajú in some regions of Spain. The sweet originated in the Middle East and made its way to Spain and was finally brought to South America by Spanish colonists. The basic components of a Middle Eastern alfajor are flour, honey, almonds, sugar and spices like cinnamon and cloves.
Alfajores can be found all over the world in Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and southern Brazil, but recipes and styles vary widely according to country, and region. Thus, even though the Argentine alfajor originated from the Middle Eastern alfajor, the availability of ingredients and differences in traditions and flavor preferences have resulted in a very different confection.
Alfajores in Argentina begin with soft cookies of a cake-like consistency. The most simple and traditional alfajor is composed of two cookies with dulce de leche in the middle, finished off by rolling the edges in finely shredded coconut. From there the seemingly endless variations begin.
Some alfajores are composed of 3 or 4 cookies to create a layering effect and a thicker, taller alfajor. Some are filled not only with dulce de leche, but also chocolate. Some are sprinkled with powdered sugar or dipped, bañado, in chocolate- white, milk or dark. Some alfajores are drizzled with icing, some are rolled in nuts like chopped walnuts or almonds, and some are topped or filled with a sweetened peanut butter paste called mantecol. Some have a little bit of raspberry jam inside of the top cookie, called alfajores ojitos. Some are made with chocolate cookies instead of the more traditional plain cookies which are like sugar/shortbread cookies. The astounding variety makes buying an alfajor a tough decision even at kioskos, small convenience shops where they are short on space, but never on the variety of different brands and variations of alfajores.
There is always great debate about which brand of alfajores is the best, it is often narrowed it down between Havanna and El Cachafaz where there seems to be a current gridlock. Regardless, there is a seemingly infinite number of different brands and varieties of alfajores that each brand produces so it is impossible to say which is best. But I can say with certainty that the best way to form an opinion is to start sampling!
Helado: The dulce de leche ice cream is always a favorite. For those of you looking to kick back after your internship in Buenos Aires, the heladerías (ice cream shops) in the city such as Freddo and Volta are known to be among the best. To help you navegate the different varieties of dulce de leche helado, let Mente Argentina give you a quick break down:
- DDL con almendras: dulce de leche ice cream with crushed almonds
- DDL granizado: dulce de leche ice cream with chocolate bits
- DDL con frutas secas y nueces: dulce de leche ice cream with nuts and dried fruit, my personal favorite!
- Banana Split: Banna ice cream (made with real banana!) with Dulce de leche and chocolate bits
- Tramontana: dulce de leche ice cream and chocolate cookie
For a full evaluation on the best place to find some icecream, check out this article from the LA Times travel section!
Dulce de Leche Professionals: When in a city where Dulce de Leche is found around every corner, it’s hard to narrow down who is truely the best, but our suggestions are La Salamandra, a dulce de leche and mozzarela cafe (delcious both seperate and together, try their mozzarella and dulce de leche desert!), and Havanna, known to have some of the best and most popular alfajores, and
How: Lastly, and maybe most importantly, if you want to make your own dulce de leche, it is simple enough if you have the time and energy! Lost of our Mente study abroad students go through the common dulce-withdrawl process, since nothing can quite replace this agentine specialty! Many people say its like making caramel, which is only partially true. Dulce de leche is made by heating sweetened milk over a stove top, and can be flavored with vanilla, cinamon (canela in spanish), chocolate, or kept as is for the original flavor.
These reciepes you can learn during your argentine culinary courses in buenos aires, while you’re here, and each cocinero has their own secret. But if you’d like to give it a try before coming to argentina, here are two different recipes, one using whole milk and one through the combination of condensed and evaporated milk, which should save you some time!
So you study abroad students, invite over your friends for a dinner party and showcase your cooking skills, pop by your local kiosco and grab some delicious snack filled with the typical dulce dessert, or hit up some local dulce de leche cafes that specialize in the dulce, because it’s not the be missed!
Getting around the city is an experience in and of itself. While studying abroad in Buenos Aires, you’ll find you learn just as much through your day-to-day travels as you do in your courses – spanish courses teaching you the phrases you need to navigate the city streets (“permiso” “¿bajás acá?” “¿dónde está la parada 68?), DJ courses introducing you to tunes playing from the kioskos and out of car windows, cooking courses showing you how to make those tasty empanadas and chorizo that you smell as you saunter down the andenes (sidewalks). As many travelers know, one of the best ways to get to know a city as diverse as Buenos Aires is to meet it through the angle of the cotidano, the day-to-day, the public transit.
The city of Buenos Aires extends 202 square kilometers, divided into 48 different neighborhoods (barrios in spanish) with about 13 million people inhabiting this incredible bustling city. Being a business and trade capital of South America, the public transportation that you use to get from your mente argentina apartment or argentine homestay to your internship in the city is also used by the locals, young and old, people living in the city and out in la provincia, tourists and travelers all year long! Here is a little Mente Argentine break down on how to get around Buenos Aires:
Subte (Subway): The Buenos Aires subway system has 6 lines, differentiated by color and number. Lines E (purple) and A(light blue) run down the southern end of the city, lines B (red) and D (green) on the northern, and the C (dark blue) and the new line H (yellow) run perpendicular and serve as connections In between lines as well. All the lines converge in the very center of the city, around Corrientes and 9 de Julio or near Plaza de Mayo where the casa rosada (president’s house) is located. As Mente Argentine study abroad participants, you will mostly be using the B and D lines that run down Corrientes and Santa Fe, going through the center of the city as well as Palermo, Recoleta, Belgrano, Abasto, Once, Villa Crespo, Micro Centro, all some of the most interesting and popular neighborhoods in the city!
- Fun Fact: The A (light blue) line is the original subway line opened in 1913 making it the first subway system in all of latin america and the southern hemisphere. The subway cars are older, made of wood and have hanging latern-style lights, the doors still open manually, and the trim on the walls in the stops are marked with different colors so that during rush hour it is easier to see when to get off. If you havent yet ridden the A line, go take a trip to Caballito or Carabobo just to get the original subte experience!
Colectivo (Bus): The bus system in Buenos Aires can seem quite complicated at first, but after a week of getting used to, it is one of the truest porteño experiences you can have! Finally memorizing one of two bus lines can be quite the accomplishment. There are over 135 working bus lines going not only through every neighborhood in the city, but also taking you to several cities in the Buenos Aires province. The bus has to be flagged down when waiting at the bus stop, and you have to tell the driver how much you want for your fare (general 1.20). Before riding the buses, or even leaving the apartment, you should always have you Guia “T” handy, a transportation savior for the student/intern in Buenos Aires. The Guia T is a booklet that shows every neighborhood and every street in Gran Buenos Aires, zoomed in for a neat map view, and divided into pages and quadrants. But the most important part of the Guia “T” is that each quadrant marks which bus lines pass through that square. When you find a bus line that works for you, you look up the streets it runs down in the back, and see where you will have to get off. It sounds complicated, but don’t worry: you will find a Guia “T“waiting for you in our Mente Argentina welcome pack and a happy Mente Argentina coordinator waiting there to explain it to you in more detail. If you happen to lose your Guia “T” they can be purchased at any newspaper stand in the city for about 10 A$R.
- Fun Fact: The bus system used to work on commission for the bus drivers but it became a dangerously competitive system, and the buses stopped being efficient as well as safe. Drivers would choose not to stop when it wasn’t worth it for the number of passengers they could pick up, and would drive more recklessly. As a solution to these issues, it was changed into a privatized system, meaning individual bus companies own individual bus lines. Because of this, the buses only accept coins, although some are starting to use a city-wide monedero public transit card. Remember, you should ALWAYS have coins (monedas in spanish) on you to take the bus, and bus rides usually cost abour 1.20 A$R
Trenes Urbanos (Urban Trains): The trains are used mostly by those living out in the province of Buenos Aires, only about 40 minutes to an hour away from the city. But the train is an incredibly easy and cheap way for commuters and travelers to get in an out of the city. There are also long distance trains that can take you to cities outside of the province, to great cities like Córdoba, Tucumán, Rosario and many more. There are a number of different urban trains, but they aren’t used as frequently as the busses or subway. One common trip however is the train to Tigre, a city outside of Capital Federal based on the river, that is often considered a nature escape to the porteños. You will get the train experience and a taste of tigre on our Tigre Excursion included in the program, but if that’s not enough, hop on the train from Barrio Chino (Chinatown) or Retiro for a day trip out of the city!
Extra – Taxis: Taxis in Buenos Aires, like in any big city, can be run through a recognized taxi company or not. Both locals and us here at the Mente Argentina study abroad office stress the use of company taxis, marked as Radio Taxis on the doors or taxi light on top. The Radio Taxi sign simply shows that said taxi is associated with a company that you could call and access, which makes it a safer ride. Though most taxis are painted yellow and black and say taxi on them, not all are radio taxis, and are not as safe as a bet.
- Fun Fact: Companies and frequent travelers also use Remises which are similar to taxis but are run through a car service. They have a fixed rate and only work when prearranged so it is a very secure form of travel. When coming in to Buenos Aires to study, you will see our Remis or Taxi waiting to pick you up and take you straight to your house
It’s notable that almost everyone in the city, rich and poor, old and young, locals and foreigners, all use the busses and subways in this city. Don’t worry if it seems difficult at first, any new system takes some getting accustomed to. But, to get a fuller experience, the public transit is something you can’t miss. Whether it’s by overhearing bizzare conversations in crowded areas, bonding with the locals while waiting in line, watching performers and musicians (whom i endearingly call enterTRAINers) play on the subte, travel around this city is half of the study abroad Buenos Aires experience. Now that your accustomed to the public transit by ear, go ahead and give it a try by foot!
The Buenos Aires music scene has been exploding for the past couple of years. Particularly known for it’s cumbia and Electronic scene, artists from Buenos Aires are consistently getting more international recognition, and the music scenes, both the underground (called under in spanish) independent scene as well as the mainstream music spreading across the globe. Participants of our Mente Argentina DJ program have been able to experience both these scenes, and have told us of the importance in the crosssection between the two. This brand of fusion has been hitting the urban beats scene, allowing cumbia and electronic to mix, meddle, meld, and mingle into a new form of dub-cumbia or cumbia-electronica. This music can be found in bars, boliches, live music venues, and across the city, so while you’re here on your study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, dont miss out on this music that’s sweeping the city.
Cumbia music started in Colombia on the west coast, and is deeply rooted in folkloric rythems and dances from the carribean and african origens. Cumbia has spread all aross latin america and with each move it takes on different adaptations, different forms. Cumbia Argentina integrates tango, chamamé, and flamenco rythems. Recently, cumbia villera, a subgenre of cumbia argentina, has taken precedence in the cumbia scene. Originating in las villas miseria (impoverished neighborhoods), it was popularized by Pablo Lescano and his group Damas Gratis. Still associated with grittier, lower class street music, Cumbia was most popular in 2o00 and 2001 during the argentine economic crisis, played in local dance clubs.
Electronic Music in Buenos Aires is hard to trace. Hundreds of clubs, plenty of festivals, one of which is Creamfields, one of the most important electronic music festivals in the world with more than 100 artists, DJs, producers, and groups. Electronic music is popular in the urban street scene and boliches (argentine dance clubs)
A popular argentine record lable company called ZZK Records has been a growing source of production for this digital, local, cumbia, and mostly FUSION music. Thier group Zizek Club serves as a showcase for new, upcoming, and particularly under music that is breakin into the more professional scene playing all over the city. Checking out their websites (zzkrecords.com and whatsupbuenosaires.com) is great to get information and discounts by emailing their organizers and putting your name on the list! So after you get off working your internship in buenos aires, when you pass your spanish exams, after class with your friends from you argentine universities, celebrate by checking out the other half of the study abroad argentina experience through the local music scene!
In a city like Buenos Aires that really never sleeps, one starts to wonder what keeps the porteño motor running all day long? When studying abroad in Argentina, you have to learn the ways to wake and KEEP you up: stay sharp for your spanish classes, fit in with your porteño classmates and coworkers at your universities and interships in Buenos Aires, and still have time to drink in this city. One of their secrets is found in the world of Mate (ma-tay), a traditional and tastey south american drink, if you can handle it. Mente Argentina gives you some basics on Buenos Aires culture, beverage, and how you can take it all in, through a nifty little straw!
- What is it?: Mate, which is actually the name of the gourd that is used to drink out of, is a sort of tea, made of dried, chopped, and ground leaves called yerba. Although mate can can be bought in a tea bag form (called mate cocido), it is hardly the same drink. Mate can be drinken alone, but it is very much associated with the mate culture that shapes argentina. You will probably see it passed around as much in the streets and parks as you do in your argentine universities and interships in Buenos Aires!
- Mate has three essential parts to it. the mate- the gourd/cup used to hold the drink, the yerba- the tea that you pour into the mate, and the bombilla- the metal or sometimes straw, slotted straw that is used to sip.
- What does it taste like?: if you havent had mate before you may be in for a surprise. But, while studying abroad in Buenos Aires, mate is an experience you won’t be able to miss. It can be very strong and bitter, and carries an earthy taste. Many have to get accustomed to mate
- How do you drink it? Every region (and really every mate drinker) has their own specific method of preparing mate, but the basics for argentina are almost always the same:
- before using any mate, you have to cure it. Curing a mate is meant to get a better taste out of the drink as well as assured that the mate will last longer. If your mate is made out of a gourd, generally the first step is to wet the inside and try to remove the loose gourd particles. Then, whether your mate is wood or gourd, the key to curing is pouring yerba in the mate, adding hot water, and letting it sit for 24 hours. The mate will then absorb the water getting ride of any other tastes that will taint its future use. Then simply dump the yerba, clean out the mate, and let it dry.
- fill the mate about 3/4 of the way with yerba.
- place your hand over the top of the mate covering the hole entirely and shake it back and fourth. This is to get rid of the extra powder or polvo so the mate doesnt taste chalky. shake the polvo off your hands and repeat this step several times. Then shake side to side to settle the yerba.
- Bring the mate to an angle so that the yerba is at a slant in the cup, anthe lower the mate back to normal level.
- Put the bombilla in the dry mate at the lower end of the slope of the yerba at a semi/diagonal angle so that its ends is at the deeper side of the mate resting at an angle.
- Add cold water almost to the top of where the yerba sits and allow the yerba to absorb the water. this protects the mate from being burnt.
- Now pour hot water (below boiling tempurature) in, down bombilla and sip out of the bombilla. Keep adding water without throwing out the yerba until the drink loses its flavor becoming lavado.
**Do not move the bombilla! Some mate drinkers such as uruguayan move the bombilla so that that you drink a fresher section every time it becomes lavado. However, in buenos aires this is less common. Unless the mate-drinker you’re with does, do no move the bombilla!!**
- What is the Mate culture?: Mate is generally driken in groups, among family, friends, and in a variety of social settings. The mate is passed around, each person drinking the water out and passing the mate back to the server to refill and pass it on to others. Take out that Mente Argentine Mate you got on your first day and inaugurate it for breakfast, pass it around when hanging with other study abroad students in your apartment, dabble in the uruguayan style and even drink it on the go!
- Why do you drink it?: Aside from mate being part of a tradition and a popular beverage here, it has a natural stimulant, similar to cafeine, called mateina. Mate is often driken here like coffee would be, in the mornings or during the afternoons to give you some extra energy. Mate is also a digestive and has several vitamines and minerals, and has been said to help lower cholestorol!
So, Mente Argentina-ers, take out that beautiful mate we gave to you oh so long ago, invite over all your friends, and follow these steps so that you too can drink your mate while studying and working abroad! You know what they say, when in Baires, do as the porteños do (do they say that?)
La Bomba de Tiempo is a group of percussionists directed by Stantiago Vazquez who mix stantard percussion sets with improvization which makes every show a unique experience for the crowd and the band. The mixture of lighting, sound, video, dancing, and participation has made La Bomba the popular experience that it is, and an unforgettable show every time.
Aside for the show itself, part of the Bomba experience is the location. The building, originally an old oil refinary/factory, was reappropriated into a cultural center in 1992 with a ission to promote cultural expression in the community and offer an innovative, avant-garde space for artists and art lovers. It´s located in Abasto, a cultural center of Buenos Aires known for its art, tango, theater, and most of all its true barrio feel. Konex is host to a variety of rotating shows, performances, acts, all geared towards the same community building feel, which allows participants to truely feel conected to the works.
As always, we had a great time on our Mente outting! Dont believe us? well check out those happy faces of our participants! If you havent checked out La Bomba de Tiempo yet, let us know and we´ll make sure you get to experience the incredible vibe of Konex, la banda, la gente, y la buena onda in general!
One thing you learn right away studying, working, interning, or living abroad in Buenos Aires is how differently Argentines and Porteños speak! Aside from the jjjjjs in their accents and the voseo form of conjugation, Porteños (or native Buenos Aires residents) also are known for their specific slang. While every country, region, and city has their own modisms and slang that you learn to pick up, we at Mente Argentina are particularly fond of the historical and playful lunfardo of Buenos Aires.
Here is a little Mente Argentina history breif as well as guide to lunfardo and common spanish slang that you are sure to hear while you are studying aboad in Buenos Aires!
Lunfardo: is said to have come to Buenos Aires at the tail end of the 19th century about the same time (and therefore deeply associated with) italian immigrants were fleeing to Argentina to look for work. Because of this, lots of lunfardo is a mixture between spanish and italian, as well as carrying gaucho and even african origins. Lunfardo spread first through the lower classes – particularly around Buenos Aires, and later to Rosario, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay – but began to enter all class levels and cross racial, social, and gender divisions, particularly because it was, and still is, used in the lyrics of Argentina´s iconic tango music. Lunfardo has now entered all sorts of speech throughout Argentina and Uruguay, but the term is synonymous of ¨speech of Buenos Aires¨.
Here are some words, phrases, and terms that you can slip in to conversation with porteños to give you that authentic spice!:
a full: overworked, busy, in a rush “estoy a full con la facultad”. A lot, packed with people, “cómo fue la fiesta?” “a full che”
bárbaro: great, cool
berretta: cheap or bad quality
boludo/a: the term boludo/a can both be an insult (calling someone an idiot) and a term of endearment used among friends
- boludez: similar to the term “bull” in english, a task that’s easy to do or something you don’t want to do
- boludear: to joke around (“me estás boludeando”), to waste time
- hacerse el boludo: to act like an idiot
boliche: dance club
bondi: bus, slang for “colectivo”, the more common term for bus
bronca: anger, frustration
- Darse bronca or me da bronca: used to say that something upsets you,
buena onda: cool, can refer to a person, a place, an activity, etc.
capaz: maybe, “capaz que si”
chamuyar: smooth talking, especially in romantic situations
- chamuyero: used most often for a guy who hits on a lot of women by talking them up
charlatán: a show off/know-it-all, used similarly to chamuyero
che: used as a colloquial phrase when talking to someone, often at the beginning of a sentence. “che, ¿cómo estás?”
dale: like “ok”, but used in agreement. “¿querés ir al parque?” “¡dale!”
estar en pedo: to be really drunk, to be in trouble (used like “I’m screwed”)
- forro/a: used also as an insult, like idiot
huevos: literally means eggs, used like “balls” in English
- me costó un huevo y medio: more slang way of saying something was expensive, similar to the English saying “it cost me an arm and a leg”
joda: a party, usually with intonation of it being wild
guita: money, used like “cash”
laburar: to work
lunfardo: the argentine/rioplatense slang. Originated from the word “outlaw” because in the late 1890s and early 1900s the language was associated with prison speak
luca: one thousand pesos, 1.000 pesos = 1 luca, 2.000 pesos = 2 lucas
mango: Money, used like “bucks” in English. 1 peso = 1 mango, 2 pesos = 2 mangos
medio: placed before adjectives to say “kind of” or “a little”. “a veces es medio difícil”
¡mira vos!: used commonly as “wow!” or literally “look at you!”
mina: woman, originated as an offensive term but now used commonly
un montón: a lot, a ton
morfar: to eat
- morfi: food
pibe: a kid, child
plata: money, used like “cash”
puede ser: could be, maybe
pucho: a cigarette
que sé yo: I don’t know, what do I know
quilombo: mess, much stronger expression than “lio” or “desastre”
re-: really, very, used as a prefix to an adjective, “estoy recontento”
subte: short for el subterraneo, which is the subway
tal cual: exactly, used in agreement to a statement
telo: a pay-by-the-hour motel
tener ganas: to be in the mood to do something, “yo tengo ganas de mirar una película”
pilas: literally means batteries but is used as energy, intention, etc.
- con pilas: with energy or excitement“hay que hacerlo con pilas!”
tipo: guy, dude, used not to address friends, sometimes in a negative tone
- used as description or time: tipo can also be added to the end of sentences (mostly with times or numbers) to mean “around” “¿cuando nos juntamos?” “a las 8 tipo”
trucho: fake, especially used for something counterfeit
vesre: one tendency of lunfardo is to reverse syllables in words, for instance telo is the reverse of hotel, just as vesre is just a vesre version or reves
viste: literally the you-preterite of ver, or “you saw”, but is used to say “you know?”
Studying abroad is a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience, especially in the constant hustle bustle of Buenos Aires! Apart from making friends, going out, working with your internship, and taking new and exciting classes,you have to learn the ins and outs of this city that never sleeps. Learning to navigate yourself in any big city like Buenos Aires can be tough, with the added difficulties of traffic, people, language barriers, etc. The truth is, as far as big cities go, Buenos Aires is one of the safest cities in South America, but like all metropolises, whether you’re living or traveling abroad, its important to stay aware to stay safe. Although Buenos Aires can seem intimidating, and the porteños sure can scare you with their comments on the “dangers” of the city, if you pay attention to where you are and you know what to look for, the city becomes a whole lot friendlier.
General advice: Remember that theft is a two person interaction, and although even the most confident and calm of people can be effected, you can control a lot of the situation with your attitude. While traveling around Buenos Aires, try and keep an eye out for where you are and look like you know what you’re doing. Dont wear expensive items like watches or jewelry that draws attention to you, and keep cameras, phones, ipods, and other technology well hidden when they aren’t in use. Most importantly, try not to speak english loudly in public in general. That is the best way to flag yourself as a foreigner for pickpockets. (Plus, we are all here to improve our spanish, so what a great opportunity to practice speaking with your friends! ¡Qué bueno!)
If you ever feel unsafe, especially at night, there are certain areas in almost every neighborhood that serve as implicit protection. Walking on bigger, more populated streets is always better and gives you a sense of security which calms you down. If you feel uncomfortable, like your being followed or watched, ducking into a store or stopping at a kiosk for a little can be a good idea, because you have the protection of the workers there.
¡OJO! areas: Generally if you’re smart and look sharp, most areas in Buenos Aires can be safe at almost all hours of the day. Walking in groups is always better than walking alone, especially at night. But certain areas at nighttime should be avoided if possible.
Plazas and Parks: parks and plazas turn into implicit unwatched areas at night without the protection of people around. Try not to cut through parks or huge plazas at night, because many robberies have been reported there, where police and other neighbors aren’t there to watch out for you.
Tourist Areas (Caminito en la Boca, San Telmo fair, etc): during the day, these places, just like plazas, are bustling with people, and especially tourists. Its pretty much a guarantee that you’ll visit them at least once during your study abroad experience in Buenos Aires, and rightfully so – they’re delightful! But also be aware that any place that attracts a lot of tourists will also attract pickpockets looking for expensive things to take from travelers. Just keep an eye out on your possessions, don’t wear anything too expensive or flashy, and you should be safe and sound.
Juan B Justo: This palermo area, marked by train tracks, divides palermo viejo/soho and palermo hollywood. Lots of people start their night in one palermo barrio and want to move to the other by foot, which means crossing the tracks or under the bridge. This area is also known for robberies because drunk partiers cross back and forth, carrying lots of money, and become immediate targets. If/when crossing, keep a look out for other people, and make sure to cross in groups when possible.
Consitución: This area Consitución is the next barrio over from San Telmo, a beautiful, cultural, lively old neighborhood in the city. Consitución basically starts west of 9 de Julio boarding on San Telmo, and should be avoided during the night because it has the reputation for illegal activity and robberies. The other area to be careful about is crossing during the night Avenida San Juan during the night, which cuts through the bottom half of San Telmo. The avenue runs under or right next to the highway overpass, which is dangerous, unwatched, and should be avoided after dark.
1. The mustard: a common trick in many big cities, mostly in plazas, one person accidentally spills something on you, mustard, ice cream, a drink, etc. Then as an apology, offers to wipe it off for you. You put down your bag, or are simply paying attention to them, while a partner of theirs steals what they can while you’re distracted. Remember, there are many variations on this trick, with soap, lotion, supposed bird droppings, spit, everything the mind can imagine. The best response when someone offers to help you clean something off is to say with a smile, “no gracias, yo lo puse allí y me gusta como está!”, or “no thanks, i actually put that there this morning and i like it just fine, thank you!” and keep on walking!
2. The couple fight: more common on the subte (subway) than anywhere else, but a couple gets into a loud fight in the middle of a crowded area. Our human instinct to watch other people’s drama kicks in and distracts us while another partner (usually a child) takes what they can. When you see this happening, just grab hold of your possessions and try not to stare too much at the fight going on (because our mothers taught us anways that its not polite to stare!).
3. The classic bump: pretty self-explanatory, someone bumps into you and as they do, stick their hands into your pocket, bag, purse, etc. Just make sure to keep your stuff close to your body in crowded areas.
Subtes y Colectivos: Subtes and Colectivos are where the most petty crime is committed. Pickpocketing is common here, so make sure to keep all bags close to your body, wear your backpack on your front or side with your arm over it (even the porteños do this), and don’t pull out any expensive belongings. If listening to an ipod or using a phone, make sure to hide it in a safe pocket somewhere that you are always aware of it. If you have a fabric bag of some kind, people have reported getting off buses and subways with their bag slashed open and their possessions gone. Just makes sure to always keep your things near you and your eye out for pickpocket situations.
Taxis: The safest way to take a taxi is to call a radio taxi, because then the company is connected to the driver and therefore is much more secure. If you have to catch a taxi from the street, make sure to get a radio taxi as well. There are radio taxis from all different companies, and they are marked both on the side (saying radio taxi) and have a taxi light on the top of the car. Using unmarked taxis can be dangerous because you run the risk of being ripped off for the prices, and can be associated with an illegal group of some kind in the city. Our professional Mente Argentina suggestion is to never use an unmarked taxi, and call a radio taxi for the most secure ride. To make sure the taxis dont overcharge you, pay attention to where you’re driving, so they don’t drive in circles to keep the meter running.
Like we said before, aside from the petty crime like pickpocketing, Buenos Aires is very safe for such a big city! In general, staying aware, calm, and trying to blend in to the porteño way of working the city will help make Buenos Aires a safe, fun, exciting place to study abroad and even live in!