Why You Should Buy Slip-Resistant Shoes for Buenos Aires

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Roxane Bolon
October 31, 2022
Why You Should Buy Slip-Resistant Shoes for Buenos Aires

It’s crazy the amount of times in a day that I encounter something and think, “Dang, I could really write a blog post about that.”  I guess those instances were a sign—I have a daily inner monologue bursting with potential content for the viewers of the IES Abroad student blog. So to those of you who are waiting on the edge of your seats for a somewhat random and entirely stream-of-consciousness recounting of daily activities, your dream is about to come true. By me, Another College Student Studying Abroad (classic). Since it’s my first blog post, I wanted to talk about something really important: sidewalk cleaning. 

I’m mostly kidding—I wanted to talk about rock climbing, but for the sake of holistic context, we’ll talk about sidewalk cleaning. When I walk pretty much anywhere around 8:30 a.m., there will be people outside their businesses pressure-washing last night’s gunk out of the sidewalk cracks with soap. You could walk through a slip-n-slide section of sidewalk for at least ten minutes. The problem isn’t that they’re cleaning the sidewalks—do your thing, owner of the small fruit market by my house—it’s that it creates an incredibly slippery surface at an early hour in the morning. For me, wearing the wood platform clogs that I borrowed from Isabel for a month, I may as well be an elderly woman ice skating at four in the morning. It’s a hazard, truly, and I feel confused about having to walk across a clean sidewalk because doesn’t it just get dirty again from me walking on it? 

Either way, I respect you, Betty’s Frutas y Mas, because your sparkly sidewalk (before I trample across it in my boat shoes) certainly attracts the richest fruit buyers in all of the city. Another thing I should add: you will pass at least three separate dog walkers with 15 small dogs in tow. It’s an incredible thing to see until you step in what their dog leaves behind. Maybe that’s part of the sidewalk cleaning thing? All that aside (and honestly, included), it’s really beautiful to be an observer of these daily antics. I have learned the most outside the classroom, just walking around or riding the bus as A Fellow Exister. When I lift my eyes from the dogs and sidewalk I see so many interesting things, even if I stick out a bit when I do it. 

And therein lies one of the funny things about being in an entirely new city—you’re pretty much always in the way of something. You are backwards, silly, wrong, slow, turtleish most of the time. My most abrasive interactions occur when I’m trying to:

  1. Refill my phone
  2. Get my laundry done

When you go to a kiosko in Buenos Aires to refill your phone, they ask you for the empresa (phone company) and then your number. I for some reason cannot decipher between the meaning of nombre (name) and numero (number), so then when they ask for my numero, I blink blink blink…and say “Roxane.” And then all of a sudden there are four people behind me and the kiosko employee is asking me for 500 pesos but it sounds like 50 so I give her 50 but then that’s wrong again and then she reluctantly says “five hundred pesos” in English. For all intents and purposes, I may as well be a four year old.  Seems like there’s a pattern developing here, doesn’t it?

I go to a laundromat three blocks away from my house. The first time I went there I was not two weeks into my study abroad, which means I had worn all my socks twice and really needed to get my jeans washed because the week-old mayo stain on the thigh was really putting a damper on my outfits. So I have to shove my stuffed bags of clothes through a jail-like cage door to the man at the laundromat, and he proceeds to sort it into darks and lights in front of me. We have the whole nombre/numero gag, but the other way around…“nombre?” “oh, si, Movistar, +54, 9…” “no, NAME!” Cue flushed face. I could cry. Perfect timing, because he paused to ask my name while holding two pairs of my underwear and the stupid mayo pants. I was not being a good patron. Again, there’s a queue behind me, this one with an actual grandma and a crying baby.  Finally, the blessed man sorts my clothes and I get a ticket. Now, you may think this was a first time occurrence but believe it or not it’s been equally embarrassing every time I’ve gone after that. I would be lying if I said I do laundry frequently enough and I have to say—the mayo stains are really growing on me. Literally and figuratively. Here are my takeaways from these experiences, which may or may not be too specific to apply to anyone else’s life:

  1. Watch out for clean sidewalks
  2. Watch out for dirty sidewalks (dog landmine zone)
  3. Never eat mayo without a napkin in your lap

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Roxane Bolon

Hi! I'm Roxane! I'm a rising senior in college and I'm so excited about studying abroad in Argentina. I love travel (duh) and I can't wait to live in a new city. I love most outdoor activities, but my favorites are rock climbing and trail running. My best fun fact is that I hiked a 14,000 foot pass in Peru when I was 14. Or that I can solve a rubik's cube. Those seem pretty equal to me. I'm the youngest of four kids and my three older brothers would probably describe me as energetic and excited! Matcha tea with boba is my favorite drink, so you can definitely find me doodling in a cafe when I'm in Buenos Aires.

Home university:
Lafayette College
Hometown:
Chapel Hill, NC
Major:
International Affairs
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