The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


Argentine Curiosities
October 14, 2008, 8:31 am
Filed under: Argentina

Having left behind mind-blowingly average Uruguay, it was time to move on.

Argentina, here I am.  Let’s do dis.

So, in my time in this fine country, I have already encountered many interesting phenomena, which I shall list in no particular order:

1.  Megatubes — These are a magnificent treat that has no equal.  They are kind of like Doritos chips, but are cheesier, crunchier, more tube-shaped, and much more tube-flavored.  And, of course, these delightful morsels are not to be mistaken with Normaltubes, their uninspiring, dimwitted, tube-flavored cousin.  You wouldn’t be stretching it to call Megatubes “totally tubular.”  Pun intended.  God damn it, that’s hilarious.

2.  English — The use of English here is like an entertaining novelty that is rarely employed but, when implemented, is always fun.  Like the midget butler you invite over once a year on Christmas Eve who inevitably is chased out of the house in an eggnog-fueled haze by you and your candy-cane-hurling family, English doesn’t come around often but when it shows up, everyone has a blast.  Um…or something like that.

Either way, English in Argentina has three common characteristics: a) the words are generally correct, but their usage makes little or no sense; b) they are horribly misspelled; or c) they’re just downright humorous. Examples:

a) As I was riding a bus through Buenos Aires, we passed a bar.  While its name did not inspire me to enter this rough-looking establishment and hang with the locals, it was just so wonderfully titled that it grabbed my attention.  That name was “New Moustache Bar.”  I shudder to think of what happened to the “Old Moustache Bar” especially give the state of the new version.

Another wondrous name belongs to a shop that has just luckily opened up down the street in my brother’s neighborhood of Palermo.  I’m pretty sure this shop sells clothes, but its wares are not what are interesting.  What is interesting is its name: “Diablo Mother Fucker.”  In all honesty, I can’t think of a better name for any shop in history.  They could specialize in selling dead racoons, and with a name like Diablo Mother Fucker, I’d pop in for a look-see.  Another remarkable example is the name utilized by a chain store I have seen many times in this fine city is named “Pizza Bum.”  Either this is a new social program in Argentina that aims to eliminate homelessness by employing them as pizza delivery men, or it’s an imported pizza flavor from England.  Either way, I really don’t care to find out.  Yet another fun illustration of the use of English was a T-shirt that said “Blowind — People Who Care Seriously.”  Hmm…never in my wildest imagination did I think one statement could have summed up all my beliefs and convictions so succintly.   The final example of fun Argentine English was in Ushuaia, where we encountered a shop called “Cheeky Mr Cock.”  This store was out of business, however; which was probably for the best.

Yikes.

Yikes.

b) My sister-in-law has done some serious shirt shopping here in Buenos Aires, and has happened across a couple of doozies.  The overall winner in this category belongs to one of those t-shirts that has some world-changing slogan on front.  This particular inspirational shirt declares: “What the Worl Neens Now is Love.”  Amen, t-shirt.  And, completely off-subject, after leaving behind the friendly women of Brazil, my worl neens a little love too.

c) I was walking through the grocery store the other day when I happened to notice a bottle of alcohol.  The name was Old Smuggler Whiskey.  While, technically, this is grammatically correct, the idea of an elderly smuggler lugging a bottle of whiskey from God-knows-where to this particular grocery store does not fill me with the urge to pour this liquid over a glass full of ice, hand it to one of my friends, and declare “Nothing tastes as good as an Old Smuggler.”

Finally, someone realizes that American Power has a Cause...a cause to kick some ass!  Woooo!

Finally, someone realizes that American Power has a Cause...a cause to kick some ass! Woooo!

In reality, I find that scantily-clad women in bikinis eating ice cream tend to be a much better way to market your product than a tattered, smelly Old Smuggler.  Another wondrous example is a pair of tennis shoes that are sold in the main bus station in Buenos Aires.  These shoes are exactly the same as Converse, but are named “American Power With a Cause.”  ‘Merica, fuck yeah!

3.  Fashion — People here have some wacky style.  While the mullet is cool, the curly, Billy Ray Cyrus mullet makes you an undeniable, invincible, chick magnet.  Unless you are a chick who wears it (which is not uncommon), then you’re just outright bad ass.  Now, while hairstyles here are pretty sweet, they pale in comparison to the coolest fashion trend to return since 1990.  And, yes, I am talking about…Hammer pants.  They are back, and in Buenos Aires, this is a style, uh, you can’t touch.

4.  Steak — Argentines have the greatest steaks on the planet.  I am planning on suggesting to steakhouses that they should just serve raw beef in a cone, because it is melt-in-your-mouth delightful.  And not only are they delicious, they are amazingly cheap and miraculously large.  Thus, all I eat now is steak — morning, noon, and night.

Beeftastic.

Beeftastic.

Here’s my daily eating routine:  I get up in the morning, I pour myself a hot cup of steak and pop a couple of pieces of steak into the toaster.  At noon I make myself a “steak sandwich”: a nice juicy filet mignon slapped between a couple of slices of porterhouse.  For dinner, I generally start with an appetizer of a left-ass-cheek-sized steak, then follow it up with a main course of a steak the size of my torso.  Then I wash it down with some steak-flavored wine, and fall into a steak-induced coma.  All of which costs about 12 bucks.  Then, when the time is right, I go into the bathroom and a couple of steaks fall out of my butt.  All in a day’s work.

5.  Yerba Maté — Argentine crack rock.  This herbal tea is what fuels the entire country.  People guzzle this shit all day and night.  While walking the streets of Buenos Aires, you will see hundreds of locals slurping maté from a small gourd from a sliver straw while carrying a thermos of hot water slung over their shoulder, a small tupperware container of dry herbs to replenish their addiction, and a glazed, tea-induced euphoric look in their eyes.  If you were insane enough to try to steal any of the above ingredients of maté drinking from an Argentine, you would no doubt find yourself in a similar situation to jumping into a lion’s den wearing a steak helmet.  Survival would only transpire by the graceful, interceding hand of the Lord.

As an example of the maté obsession, I was idiotic enough to ask a maté vendor how exactly to prepare the drink in a gourd, and, after a 11 hour discourse, he finished with the strong admonishment: “Never, NEVER, put the maté straw underneath the herb.  Never.”  I now resolutely believe that breaking the “maté-straw-above-the-herb” principle would be the equivalent to donkey punching the Pope in the gonads.

6.  Nightlife — People here are probably vampires.  Attractive vampires; but vampires, nonetheless.  My reason for this belief is that when you venture out on the streets around dusk at 7 P.M. (which of course is a normal time for citizens of non-vampire countries to eat a meal or simply walk around), the streets are eerily calm.  But, once the sun has safely settled behind the Earth, at around 10:30 P.M. these maté drinking Argentine vampires emerge to eat dinner.  While I haven’t personally seen them eat any humans, these vampires have an unquenchable thirst for steak, which I’m pretty sure they just suck dry.  After finishing up dinner at around 12 A.M., it is time to go home to get ready and have a couple of pre-game matés before heading out for the party.  Once 3 A.M. eventually rolls around, these vampires head out to the clubs to dance the night…maybe morning is more appropriate…away.  This lasts until about 6 to 7 A.M. when they have run out of energy from not eating brains or steak, and head home to undoubtedly sleep in their coffins until the next sundown, when they do it all over again.  If this isn’t the action of vampires, then these people just simply like to party late night.  But I still think they’re vampires.

7.  Buses — The buses (or omnibuses, as they are referred to in castellano, probably to sound superior to normal buses) are an exercise in luxury.  Unlike their Venezuelan or Brazilian counterparts, Argentine buses employ a waitress who serves you a meal, wine, and whiskey, nearly making you forget that you are on a bus for the next 18 hours.  Also, they tend to show a movie that usually involves Steven Segal, which is so bad ass after a couple of bus whiskeys.  Moreover, if you pay the extra few bucks, you can avoid sleeping next to a half-grizzly bear, half-human who snores all night long, and get a fully reclinable bed in the lower deck away from the proletariat backpackers in the upper deck and their disgusting ways of living.  And, you still get Steven Segal.  The best of both worlds.

8. Television — Television here is, more or less, lame.  Unless you love fútbol and Alf.  Which I do, of course.  So by “lame,” I meant “terrific”.  And, it’s weird, but Alf speaks fluent Spanish here.  Is there anything that he can’t do?  Methinks not…

9.  Monedas — Coins.  There are no coins in Buenos Aires.  Which is to say, the currency involves coins as a standard of monetary exchange, but, for some reason, there is a serious lack of them in this city.  No stores have them, neither do any people.  And if they do, they hold protect them more furiously than a drunken wolverine protecting its young.  Some say the mafia is holding all the coins.  I’m not totally sure why.  I mean, that sure is a pretty tough guy move; why be involved in drugs or prostitutes or gambling when you can control all the coins in the country?  You could have the entire video game parlor industry by the balls.  Now that’s power.  I can’t believe there hasn’t been a Sopranos spin-off based on the shady world of coin-counting Argentine mafiosos.

Ders no Coins here, Goomba. Fuggedaboudit.

Ders no coins here, Goomba. Fuggedaboudit.

However, the lack of monedas is kind of a problem because all buses only accept a one peso coin.  If you are unfortunate to find yourself without one, you are left standing in street like a bill-holding sucker.  This circumstance became an problem for me when I had to catch a bus, and literally no one would change my two fifty cent pieces for one peso.  I went to over seven stores, and no one would do it.  I thus had to start bartering with people on the street to simply gain access to a one peso coin.  I had almost negotiated for a one peso coin by offering a twenty peso bill, three blowjobs, and my liver, when I got lucky and noticed one sitting on the ground.  Whew, I sure dodged a 33 American cent bullet there.

10.  Empanadas — Argentine Hot Pockets.  But, oh, so much more delicious.  These little delights, along with steak and maté tea, are the only things this country consumes.  But, they are all delicious; so more is less, I suppose.

11.  80’s Music — While 80’s music is popular around the globe, in no place is it more popular than in Argentina.  They have taken their fanaticism to a new level by: 1) playing 80’s music that no one knows, or (even knew in the 1980’s); and 2) having really awful cover songs of the 80’s hits.  I recently was regaled by a full soundtrack of a female, acoustic, adult-contemporary artist covering such classics from “Never Gonna Give You Up” to “Every Rose Has its Thorn” to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” And each one was worse than the next.  My ears were bleeding by the end, as my eardrums had committed suicide.

So, thus far, that’s my Argentina experience in a nutshell.  Buenos Aires is a great city, and I am thoroughly enjoying the days of sitting in the cold weather on a bus watching English-butchering, mullet-laden, maté-slurping, Hammer pants-attired, moneda-concealing, Alf-watching vampires listening to a “You are the Wind Beneath my Wings” cover song, while eating a meal of Megatubes and steak empanadas.

What a country.

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1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Well Mr. Jeff thanks for all your emails, I’m jealous, haha all this places you have been, it’s been a learning experience from your point of view, keep on writing. 🙂
Very cool that you are able to go around the world and experience new things.

Comment by Martha




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