Thursday, March 5, 2009

Visiting Argentina: Traveler tips

Hey Ferfal,

I plan on spending a couple months in Argentina starting in late-March. I’m a white American male in my early 20’s, primarily interested in the nightlife and the architectural sightseeing aspects of Buenos Aires. Since you seem to be well-aware of the unpleasantries of Argentina, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me:

1. While I believe I’ll be spending the majority of my time in Buenos Aires, I also plan on traveling around. How do the crime rates in Buenos Aires compare to the crime rates in other Argentine cities? How do they compare to the crime rates of major cities in Chile and Uruguay?

They are worse than Chile and Uruguay for sure. How bad? No one knows for sure since we don’t have realistic numbers and to make matters worse few people bother to go to the authorities and file a report after being victims. The same cops advice you to get over it and not waste time in most cases.
The most optimistic say its as bad as any mayor city.
Many of these optimistics have never BEEN to other cities of the world and just repeat the official propaganda like zombies.
It's not like major 1st world cities, believe me it's worse. Even if the women are nicer than anywhere you've ever been to.:)

2. Aside from not wearing/carrying flashy items, showing off money, wandering side streets alone at night, or wearing a facial expression that reads “I’m a clueless gringo,” what else can I do to avoid being targeted for pick-pocketings/muggings/kidnappings?

Try dressing like locals. Similar to Americans mostly but the clothes are generally more "well worn". Dressing shiny new clothes will make people notice you, even if they do so unconciously.(clean but relatively worn T shit, jeans and sneakers is what I'd wear)Careful with your cell, cell phone snaticing is like the second unnoficial national sport. 1st one being futbol.:)

If I were you I’d carry a give-away wallet in case you get targeted by armed burglars. Have cards you don’t care about and say 50 pesos(less than 20 USD). That way they’ll leave you alone and you don’t loose your important documents and all your money.
Also carry your money in a hidden traveler’s pocket. Don’t leave the cash at the hotel, even the safe isn’t something I’d trust 100%

Try not to speak to much, the accent is a giveaway. And when you speak try to keep your voice down as much as possible.

3. Anything else about Argentina you think I should be aware of before I depart? I haven’t purchased my ticket yet, but I plan on arriving around the 19th/20th. So if there's any reason why I absolutely SHOULDN'T come to Argentina now, please let me know. :)

Thanks for your input, and keep up the good work!


Argentina is still a great place to visit.
Today I heard on the news that we went down 7 positions in the chart of the most popular countries to visit compared to last year. We’re below the top 50.
Crime and inflation is doing that. It’s not as cheap as it used to be and it’s certainly less safe.

Come here, have a good time. But remember this isn’t USA. Being stupid can get you killed.
When Bush’s daughter visited, not only did she get her purse robbed in San Telmo, one of here secret service bodyguards tried to play tough guy in one of the local nightclubs and ended up hospitalized. They beat him up pretty bad.

The best advice I could give you is stay on known tourist locations. If you’ll be traveling around, do it with someone that knows the country and you trust his good judgment.

Just picking a bus and traveling around might sound very adventurous but it’s very dangerous.
For nightlife, doesn’t matter who you talk to or what others tell you: Don’t leave downtown Bs As, places like Belgrano, Recoleta, madero, costanera.
“I know this great club out in the suburbs” No dude, don’t go. Serious. There’s enough women and nightlife in safe places, only locals know the few good places in the suburbs and even those are FAR more risky than the ones in Capital Federal.

Don’t get me wrong, you can get drunk and do lots of silly things, it’s just that the risk factor is not similar to USA.

Take my advice and have fun but don’t get totally drunk, don’t go to other people’s places. Even the hot chick that invites you over to her place near by may have a couple of very mean, very big pals to beat you silly and rob you once you get there.

In terms of crime, trust women as much as you’d trust guys.

If I were you, I’d at least buy a pocket folding knife and OC spray as soon as you get here.

These are all reputable places, find the one closest to you.

These two are relatively near Obelisco, and have knives and OC spray.
Explorer Pro Shop
Lavalle 423 (entre San Martín y Reconquista)

Lavalle 965 - Capital Federal - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel.: (54-11) 4326-3367 / 0665 / Fax: 4325-1441

There also a creepy gallery bellow Obelisco, where a guy has a shop with lots of knives and some OC as well as camping gear, etc. It's connected to the subway accesses.

Have a great time, but always be careful , ok?

If you happen to be here and need help, send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.



Anonymous said...

1) Opinions will vary, but the best security wallet I've found for traveling is the zippered pouch that hangs around your neck and under your shirt. Drawback is that it probably shows through a tight T-shirt --but not through a shirt that buttons up. See,e.g, . I like it a lot more than the kind that strap around your waist.

2) You don't access the wallet in public -- you keep a medium amount of money and things you need to use
in your pockets. You access the security wallet only after you have gone into a bathroom stall or other private place so no one sees that you have it. It looks small but you can carry a passport, credit card and a surprising amount of travelers checks /currency.

3) Ferfal, how safe are safety deposit boxes in Buenos Aires banks? -- e.g., if someone is planning to visit for more than a week and wants to stash emergency funds in a safe place.

4) There is, of course, the dead drop -- putting money in a plastic sandwich bag and hiding it under a rock in a public park while concealed (hopefully) from view. Of course , you have a problem if you can't remember WHICH rock.

FerFAL said...

3) There's less roberies these days.
Jewelry stores provide better profit.

But then there's the Martinez robbery, they went specificaly for the rich guy's safe deposit where they kepty gold and cash, escaped thorugh the sewers with jetsky. Movie worthy.

4)Good luck finding a rock in a public park in Bs As. They dont leave any because they are thrown at the cops during protests.:)


DanT said...

Tilley at sells durable low key trousers that have an excellent hidden pocket and they sell internationally. I use them all the time and never had a problem. Here is an example:

Anonymous said...

"4)Good luck finding a rock in a public park in Bs As. They dont leave any because they are thrown at the cops during protests.:)"

LOL! There's two more jobs for your profiting during a collapse post: riot supplies salesman (need shatterproof front window) and SHTF tour guide.

Anonymous said...

About the 3 sided courthouse: add four towers protruding at the corners, this avoids dead angles.
It is a classic concept.

Christopher Newgent said...

Could you do a small post on gun care and cleaning. I bought a Kel Tech PF9. They may not be the best guns but they are small and very concealable. They also come with a very crappy finish. Have you ever Re - Blued a gun and if I get the slide to a nice black finish, what can I do about the Polymer Handle?

Anonymous said...

Lol. I'm trying to figure out why people keep asking for tour advice in Argentina. After reading your blog, I'd figure that the last thing anyone would want to do is visit Argentina. I'm sure it's a beautiful country, no offense, but it sounds post-apacolyptic, and that anyone speaking english would get robbed and murdered quickly. It's not an adventure trip to the Disney 'it's a small world' ride, people! Lol. "Argentina is very dangerous. Make sure you only go here and here...". "Great! Can you reccommend any great restaurants?". LOL!

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog from time to time, and have been interested in how different your experience with the country is from mine. Have you had much experience in other parts of Argentina besides B.A.? We spent two months in AR a year ago last fall and absolutely loved the country and the people. We avoided B.A. and spent most of our time in the provinces of Cordoba, San Luis, and Mendoza. For the most part we avoided the big cities and spent our time in the small towns and cities of those provinces. Because of my husband's work, I spent most of the time alone with our six kids ages 7 on up to 2O's. We developed some lifelong friendships and are looking forward to going back someday.

We spent about 6 weeks in UY as well, and although I did feel relatively safe there, I actually felt safer in the smaller cities and towns of Argentina. UY has a large, growing expat community, so in some ways it was more comfortable because we were able to make connections with people who spoke English. But we fell in love with the Argentinian people. Don asked about safe deposit boxes. I would recommend using Gales in Montevideo if you want a safe place to store some extra cash on a more long term basis. It is only a short ferryboat ride away from B.A.

When I think about the inevitable collapse of the U.S. I often think that if I ever had to flee the U.S., my first choice would be to head to the San Rafael area of AR. Argentina has already been through dictatorships and economic collapse and they have survived. The U.S. on the other hand, has no idea want is coming down the pike. I would rather be in a post collapsed Argentina than a collapsing U.S.

In your observation, have things deteriorated that much in the past year, or are most of the problems in the B.A. area and the other large cities? I would be interested in hearing what you think the differences are between what we would experience in a collapsed U.S. vs. what has transpired in Argentina. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Your advice to "purchase a folding knife upon arrival" is seriously flawed. What do you want this kid to do? Pull a knife as he's getting mugged for a lousy 20 pesos and get himself shot?

FerFAL said...

Hi Robin,
I lived in Cordoba for 2 years and was lucky enough to travel and back pak through most provinces.

While some places are very nice, you alsohave to understand that they have troubles as well, ones that as a torist you dont see.
Infrastructure, supply and logisitcs are rather delicate, and many tiems finding a jobs is very hard.

Education is not as good as in Bs As, its actually pretty bad and hard to find good private schools.

Living out of Bs As has it0s + and -.


I preffer to have a weapon, even if its just a knife.
The guys can give up his wallet, knife or not, but at least he has a choice if what they want is his life as well.

Some of us arent willing to give THAT up without a fight.