The official language is Spanish. Generally, most people speak Spanish correctly, albeit using a local dialect, Castellano Rioplatense, which is subtly different from both the language of Spain and that of Central America. Most notably, the pronoun "tu" is replaced by "vos", and the you plural pronoun "vosotros" replaced with "ustedes", the latter being common throughout Latin America. Besides, there are separate verb conjugations, sometimes significantly different for irregular verbs in present tense and informal commands. Additionally, people from each city pronounce words differently too! In this way, people from Buenos Aires speak differently compared to those from Spain and other Spanish speaking countries; example: chicken in Spanish pollo is pronounced PO-zhO or PO-SHO by the "Porteños" residents of Buenos Aires, with the SH sound harder than in Spanish; unlike most other Spanish speakers of South America who pronounces it PO-yo. However, all Argentinians learn standard Castillian Spanish in school, so while not the first language of choice, people would generally be competent enough to communicate.
Hey Big Balls
Don't be surprised if you hear some creative terms of endearment on the street. It's not uncommon to refer to one's friends as boludo "big balls" or loco "crazy". "Che" is also used.
There is no such thing as political correctness in Argentina. In a colloquial speech, larger people are unapologetically addressed as gordo fat, blacks as "negro", and anyone resembling indigenous peoples are also commonly addressed as "bolita" also regardless of their actual ancestry; Italians are tanos; spaniards gallegos; jews rusos; anyone islamic as "turcos", anyone Asian chinos and the like. This sort of blunt address is considered somewhat normal in Argentina. Try to take it lightly, as it is usually not meant to offend, but don't copy it, because in certain circles this practice is considered racist and xenophobic.
Rioplatense Spanish is also heavily influenced by Italian, even frequently being mistaken for it: is is a result of the large influx of Italian immigrants. Hand gestures derived from Italy are extremely common, and many colloquialisms are borrowed from Italian for example: instead of saying "cerveza", which means beer, youngsters find "birra" cooler, which is in Italian. Most locals can readily understand most Spanish dialects, as well as Portuguese or Italian especially due to its similarity to the local Spanish. English is mandatory in high school and usually understood in at least a basic level in tourists' areas. German and French can be understood and to some extent spoken by small fractions of the population. A few places in Patagonia near Rawson have native Welsh speakers. Words borrowed from aboriginal languages include: quechua, guarani, mataco, che, mate and others.
The interjection "che loco" are extremely common and mean approximately the same as English "hey!". It can also be employed as a phrase known to someone you don't remember their names. Ex: "Oíme, Che,...." Sometimes it is peppered through out the speech, similar to the English phrase "you killa man." Nonetheless, communication will not be a problem for any Spanish speaker.
Argentines will communicate with each other using lunfardo, a street dialect or slang. It is used together with Spanish by replacing nouns with their synonyms in lunfardo. As opposed to changing the original meaning, it just makes the phrase more colourful. An important aspect of lunfardo is that it is only spoken. For example, one knows the word dinero money, but may use the word "guita" in order to refer to the same things. Lunfardo is composed of about 5,000 words, many of which do not appear in the dictionary.
Argentina has the highest traffic mortality rate in South America per 100,000 inhabitants, with Argentinian drivers causing 20 deaths each day about 7,000 a year, with more than 120,000 injured people each year. These deaths have included some unfortunate tourists. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Do not jaywalk if you do not feel comfortable, and always keep your eyes about you when crossing the street.
There is plenty of activity and foot traffic throughout the night. Nice areas have a very thorough police presence, perhaps one officer per 3 blocks, plus store security and auxiliary patrols. Public security in all major cities like Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario is handled by the Federal Police and the National Gendarmerie or the Naval Prefecture, especially in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.
As in any large city, certain particular neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and other cities are very dangerous. Some shady neighbourhoods include Retiro, Villa Lugano, La Boca and Villa Riachuelo. Ask trusted locals, such as hotel desk staff or police officers, for advice. Pay attention to your environment and trust your instincts. If an area seems questionable, leave.
Many people in the street and in the subway hand out small cards with horoscopes, lottery numbers, pictures of saints, or cute drawings on them. If you take the card, the person will ask for payment. You can simply return the card along with a no, gracias. or simply in silence if your Spanish is not good. Persistent panhandlers are usually not dangerous; a polite but firm no tengo nada "I don't have anything" and/or hand gestures are usually enough.
Most robberies are not violent, if it is just give the robbers everything, because they may be on drugs, drunk, have a knife or a gun; in most cases, if your wallet is stolen, you won't even notice until hours later. In the unlikely event that you are confronted by a mugger, simply hand over your valuables - they are replaceable. Watch out for pickpockets in the subway and on crowded city streets. Never hang your purse or bag from the back of your chair in a cafe or restaurant - stealthy theft from such bags is common. Keep your purse or backpack on the floor between your legs while you eat.
Popular demonstrations are very common in Buenos Aires, and are best avoided by tourists as these demonstrations sometimes grow into violent confrontations with the police or National Gendarmerie, particularly as they approach the government buildings in the city center.
The dangers of hailing a taxi has received lots of press but is no longer common. Since 2005 the government cracked down on illegal taxis very successfully. Petty crime continues like taking indirect routes or, less comonly, changing money for counterfeits. Taxicabs that loiter in front of popular tourist destinations like the National Museum are looking for tourists. Stay away from them. Your chance of falling prey to a scam increases in these situations. Stopping a cab a block or two away on a typical city street where others locals would do the same is good choice. Also having small bills will help you avoid issues mentioned, as well you will often find taxis that don't have change for 100 peso bills.
It is recommended that you carry some ID with you, but not your original passport. A copy of it easily provided by your own hotel should be enough.
Passport holders of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Argentina when the purpose of the visit is tourism: Andorra, Australia,* Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada,* Czech Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Norway, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America,* Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.
Since some Argentines are extremely die-hard football fans, try to avoid wearing rival soccer jerseys, as one bad turn on the wrong street, or walking into a bar wearing the wrong colors, could be dangerous in low-class neighborhoods. You can wear European football club jerseys with an Argentinean player's name on the back for example: a Manchester City jersey with Tevez's name,a Barcelona jersey with Mascherano's name,etc... If you really want to wear a jersey, the safest plan is to wear an Argentina world cup jersey.
During mid-late 2009 until the time of writing March 2010, Argentine "barrabravas" An equivalent of the term "Hooligans" have spiked in activity, causing various degrees of vandalism, assault, and deadly shootings in a few ocassions due to football debates. It is recommended not to wear local footbal clothing too often, and you will be better off if you avoid using football clothing alltogether.
The Perú national football colors and jersey design are almost identical to those of local team River Plate, so be cautious as to avoid misunderstandings.
You can get a prepaid Movistar / Claro / Personal SIM card for a few pesos / free at phone shops , all you pay is about 20 Pesos about 5 US-Dollars for your initial credits. Inserting the SIM card into your unlocked American or European mobile phone should work, although to register the SIM you have to enter your passport or any 9 digit number - you then have your personal Argentinean phone number, which is very useful to keep in touch with other travellers, either by calling or by writing text messages. Calls cost around 1 Peso per minute.
Receiving calls is usually free, except for international calls, and some cross network / inter-city calls - hence buying a SIM card purely to keep in touch with people overseas may not be worth it.
To reload you can buy small cards with secret numbers at many kiosks. Dialing *444, pressing 2 followed by 1, and entering the secret number does the trick.
Not related to mobile phones, there are similar cards with credits for international calls. You get them at so called 'locutorios', where you can also use the phone booths. You dial a free number to connect to the service, then your secret number for the credits, and then the international phone number you want to call. Using these cards, a one-hour call to Europe will cost about 10 Pesos 3 US-Dollars. Don't call without such cards or even from your hotel - it will be way more expensive.
The phone numbering plan in Argentina is hopelessly complicated for unexpecting foreigners. Do check out the Wikipedia article about it to find out more.
Directory Listing The White Pages: 110
International Operator: 000
National Operator: 19
Collect National Calls: 19 from regular phones, *19 from public phones
Mobile phone numbers start with 15
Regional code for Buenos Aires: 11
Other useful phone numbers include:
Official Time: 113
Consumer Defense: 011 5382-6216/17
All 2 and 3-digit numbers are free, except the official time service 113. All 0800 numbers are toll-free numbers.
Long Distance Calls From Argentina:You may use calling card, 0.18 Peso/min or 5.90 ¢/min for calling from Argentina to USA.
Visiting Argentina doesn't raise any major health worries. Certain vaccinations may be necessary for visitors, depending on where in Argentina you plan to visit. Yellow Fever vaccinations are recommended for those visiting the Northern forests. Different climate conditions might take your body by surprise, so be aware of the weather before you arrive. A bout of travellers' diarrhea is the most you're likely to have to worry about as your body adjusts to local micro-organisms in the food. It's also best to ease yourself gently into the local diet – sudden quantities of red meat, red wine, strong coffee and sweet pastries can be very unsettling for a stomach used to gentler repasts – and though tap water in Argentina is safe to drink, if sometimes heavily chlorinated, you may prefer to err on the side of caution in rural areas in the north of the country.
Although oral contraceptives are sold over the counter, without a prescription, a woman considering taking them is well advised first to consult a wise and licensed physician about their proper use, as well as possible contraindications and side effects.
Hospitals are free. They won´t charge you for any treatment, but it is customary to offer a contribution, if you have the means.
Argentines are very engaging people who may ask very personal questions within minutes after first meeting someone. They will expect you to do the same. Failing to do so would signify lack of interest in the other person.
Don't be offended if someone calls you a "boludo". Even though it's a swear word, to Argentines it means "pal", or "mate" depending on the tone it is said. Argentinean people are infamous for the amount of cursing they do, so if they are talking to you don't pay attention to the cursing. If Argentineans are mad, teasing you or making fun of you, you will tell by the expression of their face or the tone of their voice as well as even more cursing than usual.
Also, don't be offended if an Argentinean says things to you in a very direct manner: this is very usual among locals and sometimes offends foreigners. Argentineans are very emotional and extremists, both when telling good things or bad things to anyone. You'll also see that they have an acid humor, make fun of themselves in every aspect, and sometimes they will make fun of you. Just reply back with another joke if this is the case; locals won't take it as an offence.
Taxi drivers especially old people are very friendly and usually very well informed about anything. Feel free to talk about whatever you want. Some of them even know lot of history and politics of the city.
Try not to compare "dulce de leche" disfavorably with anything else in the world, likewise for Argentinian meat; doing it will be considered insulting.
With a Movistar GSM SIM card you can get online for 10 Peso for one day max 1GByte (http://www.movistar.com.a...)
Many cafes and restaurants offer free WiFi with an advertisement in their windows. All you need to do is buy a coffee and ask for the password.
punctuality and perception of time
Argentinians generally take a relaxed attitude towards time. This can be unsettling to visitors from North America and non-Latin parts of Europe where punctuality is highly valued. You should expect that your Argentine contacts will be at least 10 to 15 minutes late for any appointment. This is considered normal in Argentina and does not signify any lack of respect for the relationship. Of course, this does not apply to business meetings.
If you are invited to a dinner or party at, say 9PM, it does not mean that you should be present at 9PM, but instead that you should not arrive before 9PM. You'll be welcomed anytime afterwards. Arriving to a party 1 hour late is normally OK and sometimes expected.
This attitude extends to any scheduled activity in Argentina. Plays, concerts usually get going around half an hour after their scheduled times. Long distance buses leave on time though. As in any busy city around the world, short-distance public transportation like city buses and the subway do not even bother with time estimates; they arrive when they arrive! Factor these elements into your calculations of how long things will take.
Delayed bus or train departures are not uncommon, especially in big cities. This is normally not a problem, as in general no one will expect you to be on time anyway. However, long-distance bus departures almost always leave on time even if they arrive late, so do not count on lack of punctuality to save you when arriving late at bus terminals.
Ambulance Inmediate Health Emergency Service, SAME: 107
Firemen National Firemen Corps: 100
Police Argentine Federal Police: 101 currently Argentina is implementing a 911 service, but at the time of this writing it is available only in a few cities, which include Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata
Tourist Police: 011 4346-5748 / 0800-999-5000
ezeiza international airport security warning
In July of 2007, Argentina's TV network "Canal 13" conducted an investigation revealing that a group of security operators at the airport are stealing valuable objects such as iPods, digital cameras, cellular phones, sun glasses, jewelry and laptops while scanning the checked luggage of passengers. According to the special report, security operators at the airport should check each bag before putting it into the plane; however, some operators take advantage of the scanner machine to detect valuable objects and steal them. The report states that this event occurs every day and that the stolen items include anything from electronic devices to perfumes and works of art.
Travelers and residents are strongly encouraged to place high-value items in their carry-on luggage to prevent any incidents.
note: police officers will often try to get you to bribe them during a traffic ticket.the best thing to do is to give them the moneythey will keep you at a stop for a long time if you don'thowever, if you do wish to take the ticket they will give it to you with out any problems.