Porteños, literally meaning people living in the port, are what natives to Buenos Aires are called. Having been here a little over a week, I feel that myself and my group feel that we are experts at describing what exactly porteños are. They are mostly incredibly nice people that are willing to help you navigate the city when you will inevitably get lost (12 million people and no GPS are not a good combination, ignoring the language barrier). One of the first questions I get asked from family and friends back home is what is different about the people and culture here versus back home in the US. Well here are a few of them:
1. Porteño time- this is a word we like to use when referring to what time we should meet somewhere. So if we are supposed to meet somewhere at 1:30 pm, in porteño that means more like 2:00 to 2:15 or possibly later. Schedules are not nearly as strict here, and it kind of makes sense that people are always running late given how crowded and expansive the subway system is.
2. Porteño time (alternate usage)- In Buenos Aires, the party doesn’t get started until 2-3 in the morning, and will be going strong until sunrise. Lunch isn’t usually until 2-3 pm and dinner has been in the 8-10 pm range. Naps are essential to surviving, so take them whenever you get the chance.
3. Personal space- Our first night out at the Boliche (dance club) was a little different than we expected. The music was great, everyone was dancing, and we all had a great time. Be prepared for a very small personal bubble. Whether it is in the subways or the dance floor, people like to get warm and cozy together here and pack untold numbers of people into spaces no matter the size.
4. Sharing is caring- I have found that most of the porteños that I have met have been excited to share their culture and knowledge with us. They are a very social group of people. Street vendors will chat with you about the history or background of their products if you only ask. Mate is also an incredibly important and social aspect of the culture. Sharing a cup of tea with random strangers sounds gross to many people squeamish about sharing a straw, but it doesn’t seem weird at the moment. Maybe it is the people or the atmosphere, but it is a very enjoyable and relaxing activity (that is until the caffeine hits your system).
There are countless other characteristics that I am leaving out, but for times sake I will leave this as my first impressions after a week with porteños. Thank you for reading this and give me any feedback or ask any questions if you want to know something else about my experiences or culture in Argentina. I will probably start focusing on specific topics for blog posts from now own now that I have gotten a feel for the city. Thanks!