Two days is never enough time to get to know a city, let alone a culture. That said, after 48 hours in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I’ve managed to cobble together some (hasty) observations.
Argentinians: They’re just like us!
Many of the trends we’ve been tracking in US and Europe appear to have traction in Buenos Aires too. Take the growth of biking, and the role local governments are playing to fuel that growth with improved lanes and free shared bicycles. Here in BA, the bike lanes are well-maintained and the pathways are fairly comprehensive. I also passed a city-sponsored free bike hub.
Then again, not quite yet
Given that Argentina is a developed country and Buenos Aires a huge and cosmopolitan city, I assumed that mobile connectivity would be comparable to the US or Europe. Instead, I found slow connection speeds and very few smartphones – in fact, I think I saw more pay phones (yes, pay phones). It was kind of nice not to be surrounded by people yammering on or playing with their mobile devices – but also pretty frustrating to find that the global plan I’d upgraded to was essentially useless.
And maybe, in some ways, they never will be
Guess how many Starbucks I saw in Buenos Aires? One. And it was pretty empty. I discussed this with a local and she explained that in Argentina, having coffee means sitting down, ordering from a waitress, and taking your sweet time. The ‘grab and go’ approach to coffee we take in the US is unheard of here – and my local friend didn’t think Starbucks’ presence would ever change that. Likewise, she doubted that McDonalds would lead to the decline of Argentina’s traditional two hour, 10 pm dinners.
I’m now off to Sao Paulo for another whirlwind 48 hour tour, plus plenty of tweets (follow me and my fellow Inspire adventurer Richard Cope on Twitter at #inspireontour). Ciao!