October 20, 2010 · ,

La Cuenta Por Favor

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What are the quirks of paying the bill in Argentina? Let me start with a story… Myself and my Argentine friend Diego arrived at a parrilla (bbq) of a friend. However, upon arrival it turns out that as of yet no meat had been bought, so it ended up transpiring that the lucky guys who would go to buy the meat would be fool A (myself) and fool B (Diego).

There is an Argentine advert where a group of friends go out for a parrilla and when it comes to split the bill one runs to the bathroom, one takes a phone call and the other has to answer the door. Leaving the fool (boludo) left to pay for everything. Diego, fully aware of the dangers of buying 300 pesos worth of meat for a group of strangers let me in on a little Argentine secret:

“We will just walk around the block, and pretend that we could not find any meat!”

So we walked around the block for about 25 minutes before coming back to the house meatless. The city of cows was today in fact out of cows, we lied. After some expert acting from Diego about the skimpy poor steaks we ‘found’ and the hopelessly inadequate loin, we managed to escape the 300 peso bill, and ended up roasting a few chickens instead, everyone was happy.

I have seen countless other money related quirks like this and I am slowly getting a little more street smart on how not to be the boludo que paga (fool that pays) in Buenos Aires. Equally there have been times when I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people, it is funny to work out and discover about how the sensitive issue of money is dealt with by such a range of different people in a different culture. But you learn and adapt, so next time you find yourself asking for ‘la cuenta por favor’, ask yourself what tricks you have missed if you’ve ended up splashing out more than the rest!

Eduardo

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