Notes from Abroad – Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Question: “What will you miss most about being abroad?”

By Danny Wong

Being in Argentina for the last two months has really changed my life. I certainly don’t say that lightly either. While it’s awesome to tell people I’m actually living in Latin America, the thing I’ll certainly miss the most are the casual bus rides around town. While public transportation is arguably better in my home, NYC, there’s something incredibly charming about these black-smoke fuming vehicles that have number-one priority on the roads, are
privately owned by tens of different bus companies with an overwhelming number of lines.
Within seconds of opening their doors, you’re inside in a hot mess with other commuters, and before you can even look back the doors are already closed. There’s no worry about if you’re “behind the yellow line,” nor are there limits to how many people they’ll pack on the bus. During rush hours, the buses get crowded pretty quickly, but people aren’t bothered by the anonymous hands, legs or purses brushing past their bodies. Not all Americans are comfortable with this loss of personal space, but from a local’s perspective, everyone’s just trying to get to their destination as quickly and affordably as possible. Getting off is often an interesting journey, nudging past porteños (Argentines), trying to politely and articulately say, “Permiso (excuse me).” But when those doors open, you have to make sure you’re out as soon as possible, or the driver will just keep going.
The drivers drive with a sense of urgency and have almost a “no nonsense” approach to their work. They’re hard-working, genuine people that do their job with dignity and are pretty awesome because they absolutely own the road, often forcing pedestrians to get out of their way. There’s no such thing as an arrogant pedestrian that’ll walk slower in front of a moving “colectivo (bus)” either.

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