I am ashamed to admit that in a moment of desperation, I made the worst decision of my entire trip.

I had been living in hostels for five months.  I needed my own room.  I needed a decent kitchen.  I needed to NOT be surrounded by 22-year-old backpackers.

I used multiple websites that match up people who have a furnished room to rent short-term with people like me.  I was dead-set on living in Palermo, one of the most expensive areas of Buenos Aires, which gave me a limited selection within my budget.  (Before you judge me, my two main reasons for living in the fancy neighborhood were safety and proximity to a park that I would run at every day.)

I settled.

After looking at multiple devastatingly disappointing rentals that were at the very top of my budget, I looked at an apartment in the perfect location.  The apartment was okay.  The bedroom had more than 4 square feet of walking space and a window, so it was better than all of the other rooms I had seen.

The owner, who I will refer to as Cruella, is a little old Argentine chef. She told me that she prepares dinners some nights for friends and goes to the theater often, and I would be invited to join.  I was not in love with the overly-cluttered apartment, and I had a bad feeling about this seemingly nice old lady.

But I ignored my gut instinct.  It was the perfect location.  And at least I would be living with someone with whom I could practice Spanish and learn about the culture and people of Buenos Aires.


It is a little difficult to practice Spanish and ask questions about the culture when you are no longer on speaking terms with someone.

As soon as I moved in, I discovered that Cruella is the most anal-retentive, unreasonable, and unsympathetic person I have ever known.  Every time I walked in the house, I was being reprimanded for something I did wrong, always a new rule I had not yet been told.

My Breaking Point

I put up with it for five days, and then I remembered that I am 29-years-old and do not deserve to be treated like a disobedient child, especially when I was paying this woman an exorbitant amount of money.  After being reprimanded for using the toaster, I hit my breaking point and told her how I felt.

The conversation was in Spanish and went something like this:

Me: “I do not understand.  Why can’t I use the toaster?”

Cruella:  “Because you cannot touch any of the electrical machines in the kitchen.”

Me:  “Why not?  And why am I only allowed to use one tiny pan for cooking when you have 15 other larger pans? “

Cruella: “Because people from the United States do not take care of things.”

At this point, there was a period of silence as I processed this highly offensive statement.

Me: “I do not feel comfortable living in your house.  You have so many rules about everything.  Every day there are more rules.  Living here is like living in a prison.”

Cruella: “You already paid.  That is your problem.”

I do not think I will be invited to dinner or a night out at the theater anytime soon.

Meet Cruella

This is a giant professional photo of Cruella and her evil dog displayed proudly in the living room.

Photo of Cruella and her dog

Framed photo proudly on display in Cruella's living room.

Don’t eat the membrillo.

Cruella makes a living selling dulce de membrillo, a traditional Argentine sweet.  Because this is a multi-day process and she has the tiniest kitchen in the world, the stuff is laid out drying all over the house.  Note that some of it is only about 6 inches off the ground.  Remember how Cruella has a dog?

do you think Cruella’s misbehaved dog doesn’t sniff all over the membrillo?
Photo of membrillo around the apartment

This is what the apartment looks like every day

I don’t know where Cruella sells this stuff, but I know I will not be eating membrillo anywhere in Buenos Aires.

At least I only paid for one month…

Read part 2 of the Cruella saga: My Daily Toilet Paper Allowance & Other Bazaar Rules

It gets event better with part 3 of the Cruella saga: The Day Cruella Put Me Out on the Street