How I Learned to Get Lost

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—While I can’t say that my Spanish skills are getting any better here (and my English is certainly getting worse,) I can proudly say that I have developed one skill during my three weeks here in Buenos Aires. I learned how to get lost.

In my defense, Buenos Aires is huge. It is over 30,000 kilometers squared, and since I don’t understand the metric system, I can only assume that this is like a billion miles. Plus, it’s filled with thousands of people who don’t understand my gringo accent and who apparently used the video game “Grand Theft Auto” to learn how to drive. To say pedestrians do not have the right of way here is an understatement. They are more like targets.

So, it is not surprising that the first few times I tried to get to school I got lost. My knowledge of public transportation is worse than my knowledge of the metric system, so when I took the bus to my school, I had no idea where to get off. I got off at the wrong bus stop (surprise) and immediately panicked.  Not only did I have no idea where I was; I had no idea how to ask for help.

After a couple of minutes of helplessly looking for street signs, and praying that I could magically end up where I needed to go (turns out I don’t have teleportation powers), I decided to do something rational, so I called one of my professors in a panic and screamed, “Como se dice I’m lost in the middle of nowhere?” into my cell phone.

“Where are you?” he asked.

I was in Bulnes, but my accent was so bad I had to spell the street name out for him. It is hard to talk and fight back tears at the same time. Ten minutes later, my teacher arrived in a taxi and walked me to class. I was only half an hour late!

Now, after three weeks of consistently getting lost, I have finally got it down. I now skip steps one through seven (which involve plenty of tears and a small snack) and proceed immediately to steps eight through ten.

8. Get out my map.

9. Realize that I have no idea how to read a map.

10. Hail a taxi.

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