I feel a bit off in Buenos Aires at this point. I’m still enjoying it, but I’ve realized I’m having fewer adventures than I was having earlier my trip. I guess a side effect of having a consistent place to live and is that I explore less as part of my daily routine. On the upside, I’m getting a lot done. I finished my first software pet project, started my next one, got a lot of Spanish studying in, and I’ve been going to the gym a lot.
But I’ve started to get that feeling like I had when I was working full time; each day feels like the last and time is just sort of drifting by. That was alarming because I got out of my last rut by quitting my job and traveling. What do I do when I’m already in South America? I thought of that episode of The Office where Michael Scott quits Dunder-Mifflin to found his own paper company, only to get frustrated there as well. After an argument with his employees, he says, “I should leave. I should go and… start my own paper company!”
A big part of this feeling has to do with the culture here. I’d heard before I got to Argentina that the social scene was very clique-y, but I didn’t think it’d be a huge deal. As it turns out, it really is very hard to meet people here. The first couple weeks I was here, when I’d approach people at bars, like 75% of the time they just refused to have a conversation with me at all.
I eventually found some bars here where the crowd was more open to odd, yet lovable foreigners approaching them, but then I had a new problem. I’d go out to the bars, meet a cute girl, get her number / facebook info, message her the next day to invite her to drinks and… nothing. I’d either never hear anything back or I’d get a “yes” followed by an, “oh wait, something came up” shortly after. That in itself isn’t particularly strange; I’d say that in the US it happens about 1/3 of the time I meet a girl in a bar. In Argentina this happened twelve times in a row.
I was getting worried that it was the isolation. When I’m staying in a hostel, I’m interacting with more people during the day, whereas in my apartment I sometimes go days without having a conversation with anyone in person. Was all the time alone making me unsociable on the nights I’d go out?
Finally, last weekend I met a girl and we did end up going on a date that went well, so I stopped worrying about whether Buenos Aires had turned me into some sort of socially backwards hermit. I was even more relieved when I was reading travel forums yesterday to research Cordoba (my next stop) and I found a ton of people bemoaning how hard Argie girls are to date and reporting experiences very similar to mine. One even said, “If you meet an Argentinian girl at a bar and she gives you her number, you might as well just throw it away because you’re never seeing her again.”
I’ll be leaving Buenos Aires next Tuesday when my apartment lease ends. Feelings on Buenos Aires are mixed. On the surface it has so much I like. I have enjoyed my time here despite the difficulty in meeting people, but I now realize that getting to know people is what made me feel “connected” to cities like Lima or Peru. I’ve liked it, but I can’t say I feel connected.