Argentina The obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina. PHOTO: Victoria Rachitzky

Published on November 18th, 2014 | by admin

The obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina. PHOTO: Victoria Rachitzky

TRAVEL ADVICE: How to Avoid Tourist Traps in Buenos Aires

BY LIVIA CATRAN

The name Buenos Aires could make tourists think that it is a city full of “Good Airs” and “Fair Winds.” But the skies above the capital are not always blue and safe to fly, and you might easily fall into some tourist traps. This post will give you some tips on how to keep away from the most typical Porteño (Buenos Aires local) tricks. Here are a few ways of bypassing some of the ruses.

1. Learn how to navigate the black market
First of all, you must know that in Argentina most currencies get exchanged on the “black market’ rather than through official currency exchange businesses. The two main reasons for this are that the government places tight restrictions on trading dollars and euros, and Argentinians end up having little faith in the peso as its value is constantly fluctuating.

So here’s one unique thing about Porteño landlords that you should know: they are desperate to acquire foreign currencies. Their main hobby is making tourists pay their rent in dollars, and you will often hear foreigners who realize how much money they have lost. In fact, if they would have exchanged their money in the black market and paid their rent in pesos, they would get double the amount (or more) in pesos for the same amount of euros or dollars.

There is an easy and safe solution to avoid losing money. Swapping houses with a local Porteño could be a way to deal with “dollar lover” landlords and you to save not just the double or triple amount of your money, but 100% of it.

One other thing concerning money that you should know is that the black market is not always the most convenient and safest place to exchange currency, as there is a lot of fake money involved in this type of trade. One of the ways you could avoid these preoccupations before your trip is to try and find out from your exchange partner the best way of exchanging money. Local knowledge is really valuable!

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2. Beware of taxi drivers
Taxi drivers are also on the list of ”typical tourist traps” in Buenos Aires. One of their unique characteristics is that they are not just taxi drivers but they are also tourist guides. They love going around the city and making big detours on the way to your final destination in order to show you the city.

At first impression, they are all lovely and kind, but when arriving at your desired location (after making a few stops on the way), they won’t be as gentle with the price as they were during the ride. A lot of them will end up charging much more than the rate fixed by the taximeter and would even give you fake bills (and no, not Monopoly bills…but the ones that look just like the ones you spent your year saving up).

In order to escape that downside and to skip the boredom of seeing every corner of the city every time you hop inside a taxi, your exchange partner can help you in several ways. Before your trip, ask him/her for a safe taxi company or simply arrange a car exchange.

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3. Learn some local lingo
Familiarizing yourself a little bit with Argentinian jokes and phrases is a great way to understand what you shouldn’t say, as it could be culturally offensive, and what mistranslations Spanish speakers would find hilarious. Here are a few examples:

• If you are from the United States, never say “Yo soy Americano” (I am American). This implies that all of South America, Central America and Canada don’t exist, so it’s a bit rude. So in this particular case, people from the United States (still Americans) go with “Yo soy norteamericano” (I am North American) or “Soy de los Estados Unidos” (I am from the United States) otherwise it’s a bit of a mouthful for something you’ll have to say every day.

• Spanish-speaking people never say “Voy a coger un taxi” (I’m going to get a taxi), not even as a last resource. In Argentinian Castellano this actually means: I’m going to have sex with a taxi. If you fall into this category, you should substitute the verb “tomar” for “coger” and say “Voy a tomar un taxi” instead.

Long story short: if you go to Buenos Aires, mind the tourist traps and (women especially) don’t let the Porteños charm you with their smooth words and long hair!

Livia Catran works at CasaVersa as a community manager. CasaVersa is a new home exchange platform focusing on worldwide home swaps, built to promote safe and free communication between users and to eliminate over-priced vacation bills by creating bridges of trust between people worldwide.

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