South American culture shock (and street art)

Posted on 11 October 2012

The first leg of my family’s epic adventure – Argentina to Alaska – has begun.

Buenos Aires has been an absolute culture shock.

We are staying in the San Telmo neighbourhood and the area seems post apocalyptic. The kids have gone crazy! Almost every inch of street level plaster is adorned with graffiti and street art. The architecture is mostly awe-inspiring and you will find the most intricate masonry and carpentry covered in spray paint. One of my goals for this journey was to go for a walk every morning no matter where I happen to be. My legs are feeling it and we have only been here for two days, once you start walking in this city you simply can’t stop. A surprise is waiting around every corner. This part of the city is pretty grungy and there is the ever-present danger of stepping in either a dog turd or a hole in the pavement. Despite (or maybe because of) the chaos and municipal ineptitude this part of the city does have a palpable atmosphere and personality. Don’t expect eye contact and don’t expect to be spoken to in anything but rapido Espanol.

Everyone seems to think we are Americans and are surprised to hear that we are South Africans, they all remark how far away we are from home. They have no idea how far away we feel.

Please excuse the quality of the photos, it has been raining since we arrived and the light has been difficult with bright white skies and plenty of shadows. That’s my excuse and I stand by my own BS.

6am Chacabuco street, La Boca. Instagram.

Priest ” You can’t keep living without marriage in concubinage dude, you have to get married by the church”. Dude “For the church, for the country and for my land!”.

There is a resemblance.


Language is definitely an issue. I still have no clue what the people are saying but I love the sound of it. Within a month we should be up to basic Spanish and conversational Spanish within 3 months at least. It will be difficult not to learn quickly because we really don’t have another option.

Keelan has been my sidekick on a few of my walks. The boy has stout legs and a good eye. He can also make french toast – what more do you need in a sidekick?


The Edicio Otto Wulf building in Avedino Belgrano simply stunned me. It’s a pity that they have chosen to pollute the ground floor with a Starbucks. Have a look at this link for some decent photographs of the building:



The Rey Castro is actually a little Tango/Salsa club. Luisa has enrolled us for lessons on Thursday at the hostel, I can’t dance, we will be taught in public, I will sully the name of Tango and will be deported from Argentina, I hate dancing, I should fake a sprain, yes, from all the walking, take her to dinner instead, what if she wants to do it twice, will some suave, dark-eyed Latino whisk her off her feet and shame me for my pot belly and wooden legs? Liberate me from this tyranny Fidel!


I have no ideas.

A close up of the intricate hand carved doors…

… and how the kids think it should look.


This mural is opposite the Edicio Otto Wulf building.

Constructive destruction of public property.

There is something African about this and it made me feel just a little homesick even though we have only been here a few days.

Another Instagram moment.

We will be in Montevideo by Monday to collect the Land Rover by Wednesday and then we will be heading up to Brazil. We have already made some great friends and will be visiting a few of them in Sao Paolo.

Eu sou Gauchingu de Pantanal! (I am the cat of the swamps).


Read more about my family’s journey from Argentina to Alaska


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