Every morning that I wake up in Buenos Aires, there are three different voices clamoring for space and attention in my head. No, I don't have multiple personality disorder or anything of that sort. It's more like the voice of a Porteña, a Chinese person, and Canadian girl fighting for attention.
In order for me to qualify as a true native porteña to this city, there are several rites of passage. Firstly, when I wake up in the morning I have to look out the window and make some sort of statement complaining about the weather. But that isn't the only complaint of the day that I have to register if I truly want to be considered one of them.
The 2nd area which I have to gripe about is about inflation and how prices are getting so high and how I remember the good ole days. My relationship with Argentina started in 2009 so in terms of "the good ole days", 2009 is about as far back as I can go in terms of complaining and comparing prices.
But there is a third thing that I can do that I am 100% sure will qualify me instantly as porteña without having to do the above two activities And that is to join the 20% of Argentines from Buenos Aires who enjoy being able to smoke weed in the comfort of their own homes. Ever since 2009, the gov't has legalized weed for recreational use in private residences
The three words that sum up Buenos Aires both past and present are these: Cannabis, Carne (as in both actual meat and meat as in human flesh. Being in a city where sex hotels are located around every corner, its not that hard to believe) and Carnage. Crack open a history book and you'll find as much carnage in the history of BA as you will find "carne" in present day BA
.But I'm getting off track (and no it isn't because of all the weed I've been smoking legally in private residences), I was talking about the three sides of me fighting for attention. The happy go lucky free spirited girl from the west coast of Canada tells me that I should be young, have fun, and show gratitude and gratefulness and appreciate each day. But that voice soon gets drowned out with the Chinese person within me that insists I get off the couch and go look for ways to save money in an inflation-riddled city.
So to sum in up, my morning protocol goes something like this: I get up and look out the window and complain about the weather. But then I quickly remember to give thanks for this wonderful life and opportunity and live each day as if it were my last. Then when those things have been checked off the list, I all of a sudden get the urge to run out the door and explore the neighbourhood for deals and savings.
As I browse the aisles of the grocery stores studying the prices like any good Chinese person would, the sudden urge comes over me to complain about the good ole days (for me means the year 2009) and how it takes twice as much pesos to buy even half of what I used to be able to buy.
On that note, I've decided to take another little detour here to write a paragraph or two about tricks and tips for dealing with inflation and fluctuating prices. Back in Victoria, B.C things are extremely expensive. Sometimes when looking in one pharmacy or grocery store, I would have to memorize the prices and walk back and forth between two different places before making a purchase. It wasn't uncommon for me to walk to another store a few minutes away and find a 99c discount on something that was full price at the store I just visited. I pretty much learned which stores had all the sales and where I was likely to get a better deal.
Buenos Aires is different because on every block there is like 5 grocery stores and 5 pharmacys. One afternoon I spent two neighbourhoods adjacent to where I live in Almagro called "Caballito" and "Abasto". Here in the city it is impossible for me to get familiar with every store because there are so many and things are changing all the time. But my sunny afternoon spent roaming the city looking for deals and discounts proved invaluable and I was able to begin to see a pattern of sorts and draw conclusions.
And my conclusion is this, deals and discounts in Buenos Aires aren't store specific.....they are barrio specific. The reason that I have come to this conclusion is that if I walk 15 mins away to grocery stores that are technically considered part of Abasto or Caballito, I begin to see the exact products as the grocery store near me but priced for between 1-5 pesos more. So how it works is that as soon as you find yourself in another barrio, you'll quickly notice the price change even if you've just walked 10 mins. My findings is that in general, all the grocery stores and pharmacies in my area are priced similarly and I don't have to go hunting in a specific store for the best deal as long as I stay around my block.
Now that I've learned to hunt for deals, my next great adventure involves hunting for weed.....
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