October 25, 2010 ·

The Argentine Way of Time



Surprisingly, out of the biggest challenges in adjusting to life in Buenos Aires has been coming from the ridged, early start and get everywhere on time western attitude towards times to landing here in Argentina at the opposite end of the spectrum.

From getting strange looks for eating dinner at the perfectly acceptable time of 7 o’clock to arriving at empty parties at 11 or from turning up to meetings on time (or even 5 -10 mins. earlier) to waiting on street corners for no less than 30 minutes. There seems to be an unwritten code and for the average painfully punctual foreigner, it requires some serious ‘shake-off’ to let go of a lifetime of promptness.

It seems that learning Spanish will only get you so far, and confusions between cultures run much deeper than the spoken words. You just have to go with the flow, so what are the main differences in the timetable in Argentina?

1. Dinner at 10pm or 11pm. Don’t try going out for dinner at 7pm or 8pm, or you will be left looking at closed doors. Try having a ‘tea-time’ snack (merienda) at around 7pm or 8pm instead.

2. A night out really does mean all night long! It is definitely not the tucked up in bed at 2am kind of nights out that I am used to. Arriving at clubs at 3AM and staying out well until the sun comes up is a typical night out schedule here in Buenos Aires. I have even started napping until 10pm or 11pm to try and keep my stamina up! So, if you have something to do early the next day then think carefully before heading off for a night out.

3. Timings are very flexible, from trains to concerts to meeting up with friends. Major events can start an hour or two late, meeting up with people an hour or so late is normal, and most of the trains and buses have an extremely flexible timetable. So just keep in mind that no timing is set in stone.

I am now a lot better at not getting annoyed by the daily little things that come hand in hand with our differences in attitudes towards timetables, and have learned to be more patient than I ever thought was possible. It is actually really relaxing to not have the overbearing pressure of arriving on time to everything and that your plans can change with your life. It’s just a much more laid back attitude towards daily happenings, and learning to get less stressed about timings has been a great life lesson. Last but not least, I have stopped wearing a watch and have been no problem going about doing my business.


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