Studying Abroad in Buenos Aires

Ok, I’ll admit it! Like many AA women out there, the idea of taking an international trip outside a known relaxer-condition-and flat ironing (“RCF”) zone was the most agonizing part of my trip to Argentina!

Buenos Aires is very hot and humid during the summer months of January to March. I have natural hair that I generally wear straight, which I did myself during my first six weeks in the country. Though I’m told that several years ago, you could not find a black hair salon in Buenos Aires to save your life, you’ll be happy to know that Afro Hair, a full service salon that caters to black clients has sprung up in the downtown neighborhood of Belgrano!

Stylists are Brazilian and use some Brazilian products, so unless you can communicate in the Portuguese, I’d recommend bringing a Portuguese-English dictionary to help explain the services you’d like and describe any particular requirements. You’ll find many familiar products at Afro Hair, and although my wash, left a little to be desired, my stylist did a phenomenal job straightening my hair with a blow dryer and flat iron.

(Another salon to try: Villa Crespo which also offers braiding and salon services. We haven’t been there yet. If you have, send us your review!)

If you want to prolong the pampering following your salon trip, visit Espacio Oxivital. While upscale Palermo is home to well-off Argentines and foreign diplomats alike, you’ll find that prices in this Palermo salon are very reasonable for those paying in dollars for services that are among the best in the city. If you can communicate in Spanish, Oxivital’s two black pedicurists (who seem to be from other parts of Latin America) are great conversationalists. And if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, you’ll be happy to know that a five hour spa treatment will “only” set you back about $100. Take another peek at Oxivital here.

A few other recommendations while you’re in town:

Shopping:

Since Argentina’s financial crisis of 2001, prices in formerly expensive Buenos Aires have fallen dramatically for American visitors. In fact, if you’re a shopper, you might say that the cost of living is the best thing about the city. You’ll find that luxuries like high quality leather goods, and spa treatments are all very reasonably priced compared to similar goods and services in the average American city. If you love leather, you’ll find a healthy supply of shoes, belts, jackets, and bags all over the city. Di Poggio, a trendy handbag, shoe, and accessory shop is a great place to try. Doma, another good shop for affordable Argentine leather is known for its jackets.

Word to the wise: Argentines tend to be thin and clothing sizes definitely reflect this. While I am normally a size two in the States, in B.A. that translates to a medium or large, so brace yourself and pack accordingly! If you’re looking for even more leather and upscale shops, walk into almost any shop on Avenida Santa Fe in Recoleta and you’ll be set!

Day Trips and Visits Worth Taking:

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls in neighboring Brazil: You can easily view these spectacular falls in a day or two. I took a day trip with my parents and stayed at the Sheraton Iguazu. A night or two is more than enough to see the upper and lower falls and the guides do an excellent job of describing the local wildlife and fauna.

Tour Patagonia: Patagonia, the region that contains the southernmost portion of South America, is immense and breathtaking. I toured Bariloche, the Rio Negro city nestled at the foothills of the Andes and El Calafate, Patagonia’s small town on the southern border of Lake Argentino. Known for skiing, site seeing, water sports, trekking, and climbing, you’ll find that Bariloche is still fairly chilly even during the Argentine summer, so if you head that way bring a winter coat! Since I’m a city girl with little athletic ability, I opted to use Bariloche’s Circuito Chico (short circuit bus) and Seven Lakes drive to San Martin De Los Andes.

This drive will give you a great view of the region’s scenery. While in San Martin, visit the picturesque village of Colonia Suiza where you’ll find ample opportunities to sample chocolate fondue. Insider Tip: Bariloche is riddled with chocolate! Hot chocolate in Patagonia is phenomenal, especially after a long day in the chilly outdoors so be sure to get a mug full.

Visit Perrito Moreno: Just outside El Calafate, you’ll find one of the most awe-inspiring sites in the region: Perrito Moreno. If you trek this beautiful glacier found in Los Glaciares National Park, you’ll also have the option to sample a whiskey on “rocks” that come directly from the glacier. I cannot overstate what an amazing experience this is! Photos just don’t do this wonder justice, but we’ll throw one in anyway.

Perrito Moreno

If you’re heading to Patagonia, Perrito Moreno is not to be missed.

(Keep in mind that driving in Patagonia is time consuming. Long stretches of road are unpaved and others are subject to roadblocks from the occasional workers’ strike, not to mention that your bus could also be interrupted by hundreds of cows and a few gauchos along the way!)

Want more insights and tips on AA travel to Argentina? Check out The New York Times Frugal Traveler Blog on B.A. and download a free copy of the AA Abroad Buenos Aires mini-guide!

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