Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anger Management

Let me be clear, for the most part I am loving the adventure of living in Buenos Aires. There is rarely a dull moment in this city and the arts scene here is humming, which makes me very happy. And yet, I note that my blogs, which have been less and less frequent (due to a rhythm of life that is difficult to fathom after having lived in the Canadian prairies), have as of late focused on the negative aspects of living here. I'm not sure why that is, but my Argentine husband has always told me that Argentines make a hobby out of complaining, so who knows, maybe I'm becoming more Argentine than I think.

That was actually my thought the other day while out for a run in Parque Tres de Febrero in Palermo (where I am standing in this photo, which was taken shortly after I arrived in Buenos Aires in 2009, when I am still in my honeymoon phase with the city). I have been told that you know you have really learned how to speak a language when you can argue or swear in that language without having to think about it. While running the other day (I have started training for the Buenos Aires Marathon in October - I'm nervous already!), I came to a yellow light on the bike path, and like most Argentines, picked up my pace to make it through, when the old lady waiting at the light in a rusted up little car, the only car waiting to cross might I add, leaned on her horn and started yelling, doing the "come on" hand gesture that is so popular among the locals. Well, I'm not sure what came over me. Maybe it was the endorphins from running, maybe it the music blasting from my iPod, or like I said, maybe I'm just becoming more Argentine than I realized, but I turned around and let fly - a mouthful of filth in Spanish that I didn't even know I had in me. I stood there hand gesturing and yelling things I am actually too embarrassed to repeat here until I felt satisfied that I had let it all out before turning around and continuing my run in the beautiful park.

Later on, I was sharing my experience with a few Argentine friends, and my husband, who assured me that what had come out of my mouth surely got my message across just fine, when I realized, I managed to let all that out without even thinking. I guess my Spanish is better than I thought.

But I got to thinking about the anger thing, which creates traffic situations that are difficult to explain without having experienced what it's like. I still haven't worked up the nerve to drive in this city. It has something to do with the fact that, well, I don't know, there are NO RULES WHATSOEVER, or something like that. Drivers here tell me that you just have to "feel" where and when to turn, and yet that doesn't seem to alleviate all the honking, yelling and swearing that are a regular part of driving here at any moment in the day. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be mess.

I'm not sure what it is about the culture here that makes people explode so quickly and with such fury. Another day out on a run, a van cut off a runner in front of me (for the record, runners NEVER have the right of way here), who proceeded to rip of his t-shirt and use it to beat the side of the van while screaming explicatives. This is just part of life here, and I do notice I am much more prone to angry outbursts than in the past. I don't know if it's all the people in this city, or what, but something keeps the public pretty pissed off for the most part. Maybe that's why this city has the highest number of psychotherapists per capita in the world.


  1. The ducks in the park look gigantic. Hi Carla. They miss you in the Canadian prairies. PG

  2. Thanks PG - as a former farm girl, I know to give those giant ducks a lot of space. As winter rolls in in Bs As, I am missing the prairies more than ever and bummed I won't be visiting those gorgeous flax and sunflower fields with blue blue sky. Hope you and T have an amazing summer in the peg! besos

  3. Hello, I am a Canadian from Toronto. I will be moving to Belgrano in BA within the next three weeks. Just wanted to say that it's nice to read your perspective. I am a little frightened but hope that it all works out. Luckily I have visited BA before and know what to expect. I just hope to find a job!

  4. They say that's the city. I am from a small village in Germany and married an Argentine from Buenos Aires, where we now live half the time. We are now in Germany for the (European) summer, and he says that people are much more relaxed, less hectic and less aggressive in the country. And yes, Buenos Aires has made me more aggressive as well, I think. People are so prone to shower you with expletives in a big city.

  5. Just relax! an occasional outburst is always healthy!

  6. Latinos are noted for being volatile, but don't come to Saskatoon because we have road rage not usually seen on the Prairies. My suspicion is culture clash--the old rural meets the young Alberta Urbanites who have returned "home."

  7. I have been living in Argentina for more than 5 years and I smiled when I read your phrase about the "Honeymoon phase". So true...how quickly does it pass :) Saludos from Cordoba!