7 Things I Miss Back Home

Things Missed - Downside of traveling to Latin America

A lot of people have asked me over the last few months if I miss anything from back home. Besides the obvious answer “friends and family” I have to say there are a few things that I do miss. So, here’s my list:

1. Holidays – Holidays are definitely when I miss home the most. I love learning about other cultures and how they celebrate special occasions but there is nothing like enjoying traditions with friends and family. In particular Christmas. For me, there is nothing better than having Christmas dinner at my Grandparents house and looking outside at snow covered pine trees. My Christmas was spent in 85° weather, surrounded by very few decorations, and no access to The Christmas Story on TV. I also missed my annual New Year’s Party and I just missed my Grandparent’s 63rd wedding anniversary party.

2. Food – Turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and a good breakfast are tops on my list. I used to eat turkey sandwiches and PB&Js every single day back home and there just isn’t a good supply of either here. Also, the accessibility to fast, cheap and healthy food is hard to come by in Buenos Aires. I have a new found love and respect for the great lunchtime delis and breakfast diners back home. As I mentioned many times before empanadas and pizzas reign supreme here and you really have to hunt for any sandwiches other than ham & cheese. Good, inexpensive mexican and seafood are also few and far between in Buenos Aires.

I split most of my time between the East and West Coast over the past 2 years so here’s my list of favorite spots I miss from both:

  • San Diego – The Firehouse, Yogartland and The Broken Yolk
  • Buffalo – The Mulberry, Salsaritas and Jim’s Steakout.
  • Rochester – Schaller’s, Dinasour BBQ, Nick Tahoe’s and the Hilton Family Diner.

3. Driving – My 2002 Hyundai Accent (pictured above) wasn’t the fastest or biggest ride on the road but shegot me from point A to point B and I miss her for that. Now I wait for buses, crowd onto trains or spend too much money on taxis. Without my own transportation I have to plan for delays and keep a close eye on all my stuff whenever going around the city. Not to mention people look at you funny when you ‘accidentally’ burst out into song (and/or dance) on public transportation like I would in my car… that is, unless you go around and ask for money after. Hmmm… idea. See My Rides in Buenos Aires

4. Service & Efficiency – Dear Wegmans, I apologize for not appreciating your amazing efficiency and friendly staff sooner. Thank you for everything you do. Now that I said that, let me tell you that grocery shopping here in Buenos Aires is a frustrating event. The food selection is limited (or very expensive) and the check-out procedure more often than not is slow and painful. The cashiers will ask you for change or smaller bills and then they will ask their managers for change because they don’t keep much in their drawer. I haven’t used a credit card yet but have been behind people who have and let me just say… good luck.

In restaurants, cafes and bars the service is slow and you have a 50-50 shot of getting a friendly waiter. But, that is the “culture” here. People eat slow and hangout in cafes unlike in the States where everyone is go, go, go. So, I guess I can’t really blame them for that. Although I do wonder sometimes, kind of like the chicken or the egg thing, what came first, bad service or bad tipping?

5. Sporting Events – Watching a Bills game while eating chicken wings with friends is my idea of a perfect Sunday (until the 4th quarter anyway). Needless to say I missed that this season and I missed watching the Super Bowl in English and filling out March Madness Brackets. Probably most of all however, will be missing the best weekend of the year in May when all my buddies and I go down to Charlotte, North Carolina for “Race Weekend”! Which is basically just an excuse to get together and drink beer, wear funny Nascar clothes and talk like rednecks for a few days.

6. Gym Routine – At the risk of sounding like a meat head I enjoyed getting in the gym on a regular basis back home. A routine that I haven’t been able to stick with since I’ve been down here. I also miss protein powder and jager bombs but thats a whole different story.

7. American Money – Not so much fiscally as I’m talking physically. The money here is flimsy. It rips, falls apart and is often taped up. You also always have to worry about fake currency. Taxi’s will give you fake 100s and 50s if you pay with large bills. They take your large bill and then switch for a fake one and say they can’t take it. Furthermore, nobody ever has change for big bills because of the risk of fakes and because of short supply. Don’t even bother asking for coins that’s a whole other story.

The last thing I missed doesn’t really apply to this list but… man College was fun.

All-in-all, it’s good to be away sometimes because I think you appreciate even the simplest things a lot more.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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