The Secret to Being Thin: Ride the Subte

Wednesday marked my first month in Buenos Aires. I’ve been having a grand old time down here. The clothing is so cheap! The leather such high quality! And the food, oh the food. It is all so, so good. But I still have a lot of unanswered questions about the city and its people.

Today’s question: why, considering the amount of meat and fried foods I’ve seen people eating, is everyone so damn skinny?? I couldn’t figure it out. I generally think of myself as a healthy person but because I messed up my heel a few weeks ago and haven’t been exercising I’m gaining weight like nobody’s business. But these people who have been surrounded by all this rich food their entire lives? They are like STICKS. Could you imagine growing up with diet staples like dulce de leche and fried chicken or veal cutlets (milanesas) and NOT weigh a thousand pounds? Plus the fact that everyone eats so late here means they’re not even digesting before they go to bed, which certainly doesn’t help in the flub department.

This week, though, I think I discovered the reason why everyone is so thin: it’s because they have to fit on the subway. The subway system here, or subte, is pretty nice. It’s laid out really stupidly– all trains go towards the center of the city and there are only two connecting the city lengthwise– but it travels really quickly and the trains come fairly frequently. The subte during rush hour, though, is NOT somewhere you want to be. The subte during rush hour is the time where anything goes. People push their ways into the cars, mindless of the fact that there is no space left for them. I’ve had people’s elbows in my sides, my arms have been in people’s armpits, and I’ve been wrapped around metal poles. There are so many people in these cars that when the train goes around turns or stops short we all move as a mass, like a gigantic living Jell-o mold. Yesterday morning I was actually IN some old guy’s pot belly. It was like we were grinding in a sardine can but about a million times more uncomfortable.

I love the subte, I really do. Except for the one problem trip I’ve had with it– this past week I got stuck in a subte train stranded between two stops, but that is perhaps a story for another time– it’s been a good travelling companion and it’s cheaper than the buses. But having to deal with the cramming and the pushing during rush hour is less-than-savory, for sure. I honestly couldn’t ever imagining something like this happening in the US. We like our personal space way too much. Plus– and I know this isn’t an accurate representation of my country but it’s still what I think of– the thought of cramming elephants into a subte car during rush hour is both hilarious and horribly inefficient.

As crazy as it is, I’m going to stick with the subte. We’ve become pretty good buddies and it wouldn’t do to abandon it for a few obnoxious people that decide to ride it sometimes.

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