I thought my Spanish was pretty good. I understood a lot. I did well in class. I exposed myself to music and movies. I knew I could get by, I just didn’t realize how hurt my pride would be.
By the time I got to Buenos Aires, I had already finished “Advanced Grammar” in Spanish. I was in a good place, academically. I was “advanced.” Then I got to Argentina. I had heard the accent in movies, but still got to rely on my subtitles. It was beyond hard for me to understand anything at first. As days went by, I realized that I was still “okay” in an academic setting, but the minute I hit the streets it all changed.
I went on a bike tour through Buenos Aires called “Como ser porteño” which means “How to be a porteño” but basically, “how to be a local.” While I know how to bike, I hadn’t done so in some years. I also had never biked through a city with people all over the place. We were biking through the ecological reserve. Going down hill through the entrance of the very sad excuse for a “beach,” I was going too fast. There was a little girl standing a little to the left, and a woman standing but holding on to a bike a bit to the right. I knew I was going to hit one of them and I had no time to really react, but I tried my best not to hit the little girl.
I completely T-boned the woman with the bike. I was mortified. Petrified even! I hit her hard, causing her own bike to somewhat jab into her, but she thankfully didn’t fall. But then, the drama started!!!
“¿NO ME HAS VISTO?” she yelled.
I choked, “Sí, pero”
“Entonces sí, ¡me has visto!”
I’m usually a tough cookie, but I was frazzled. “No podía…”
“¡Boluda! ¡Que peligro!”
That was it. Boluda. The bike tour guides laughed and told me that I was finally “in” or initiated as a porteño or whatever. I was sad, and also pretty pissed at my own self for not being more aware of my surroundings. I was even more upset that the minute real emotions got involved, I could barely advocate for my own self in spanish. I was tongue tied and flustered and just completely went blank.
I really worked myself up that day, only to realize it was over nothing. The Argentinian’s ultimate and favorite curse word/insult, maybe even favorite word in general is boludo/a. “Che, boludo” is probably the most frequent phrase that I have heard here since that day.