Posts Tagged ‘IDargentina’

That’s Che to You, Amigo…


Next time you hear someone cry out “Che!” while you’re walking down the street in Argentina, no, you don’t need to start looking around for the guy you’ve seen on all of those t-shirts and posters in your college dorm. Che Guevara has not returned from the dead, and you can probably just ignore it, unless, of course, that cry is directed towards you.

See, “che” doesn’t only refer to the famous 20th-century Argentine revolutionary, and in Argentina, that association is made very rarely. Instead, “che” is used informally much in the same way native English speakers use “dude”, or ‘hey”, as an attention-grabber. Especially among friends or family, the phrase can refer to someone specifically or rhetorically, so while you don’t need to excitedly whip your head around looking for the real Che, make sure nobody is talking to you either before ignoring the call.

While the origins of the word to the Argentine culture (as well as neighboring Uruguay, where it is also very popular) is unclear—linguists often argue whether it stems from an indigenous language to the region or whether it was brought along with northern Italian immigrants—that it is hugely popular in Argentina today is not.

Che Guevara


He Who Honks First: Seven Tips for Driving Argentina


While Argentina has traffic rules like everywhere else, your first time behind the wheel in Buenos Aires can be quite an adventure. Given the extensive bus system (see how to ride here), you don’t really need to drive in the city, although driving can be among the best ways to get outside of BA and explore some of the vast countryside. But since you’re likely to have to traverse greater Buenos Aires at some point, it’s best to know how the game is played!

Here’s a few tips that will keep you (and hopefully your vehicle) in one piece:

1. He Who Honks First…has Right of Way

Yes, while there are traffic signals here, that doesn’t mean everybody obeys them. More often than not, cars will honk to announce their approach into an intersection, and are likely to take that honk as having earned right of way. So be careful!

2. Don’t Turn Left

From main roads anyway, left turns are not typically permitted here. This is not always followed (as you may have guessed from Tip #1), but unless it’s specifically stated that you can turn left, you probably aren’t supposed to. Circle the block!

3. Get Ready for Tolls

Many of the main highways, especially around Buenos Aires, are privately owned. As such, you’ll probably have to pay a toll to ride.

4. Check Your Suspension

Not that you will really able to do much about this, but given Argentina’s tenuous financial state, road maintenance is not among the top priorities these days. You’re likely to hit a pothole, or three, so just keep your eyes on the road and don’t expect smooth sailing!

5. Don’t Leave Anything Visible

This should be common sense for most people in cities around the world, but if you park your car and leave anything that can even be perceived to have value in plain view, don’t expect it to be there when you return!

6. Wear Your Seat Belt!

In case you haven’t picked up anything else from Tips #1, #2 and #4, you’re not likely to have the smoothest Sunday drive you’ve ever had here. So be smart!

7. Enjoy the Adventure! 

Drink the Wine at Home, Drink the Mate Here!


Traditional Mate Tea Gourd

Traditional mate gourd

So you finally made it to Buenos Aires, and you want to fit in among us, huh? While you may have brushed up on your wine tasting, cuts of beef and a few Spanish phrases, what you really need to learn is what mate is, and how to drink it!

See, while we definitely produce plenty of wine, this is what we really drink on a daily basis. I guess you can say it’s like tea, since it’s made from Yerba Mate tree leaves. But we like to think of it as something special, and our very own (although of course one may debate that its origins stem from Paraguay or Uruguay as well, but we’ll never agree to such nonsense).

A little bit of mate in your everyday diet will wake you up, lessen your appetite a bit (which is a good thing considering the copious amounts of red meat cheaply available here), and the doctors even say it is good for your blood pressure, immune system and pretty much every other part of your body.

Ready to join us?

Mate Tea

Seven Dont’s of Drinking Mate

1. Don’t be Selfish: Sure, we all crave our mate in a pinch when we’re looking for some energy to get moving. But mate is really about sharing time with those we love to be around. We may even argue that the health benefits of some healthy camaraderie and conversation are just as real as whatever those doctors say mate helps with.

2. Don’t be Polite: Kidding, of course! But really, while your inclination may be to thank the server upon receiving your fill, in our culture, saying “gracias” means that you will be having your last pour of the session. So make sure you don’t thank the server until you’re ready to check out.

3. Don’t Touch the Straw: As you can see in the picture, mate is served with a straw-like device called a bombilla. Since the server is responsible for the flavor of the mate and will deliver it to the best of his or her ability, you may be offending someone by messing with it.

4. Don’t Ask for Sugar: While some parts of South America serve their mate with sugar (“dulce”), you probably don’t want to ask unless it’s offered. If you find the mate bitter at first, it will become a bit more mild as it is passed around. Hang in there.

5. Don’t be Reckless: You should be able to feel how hot the gourd is before you drink it. Just make sure to be cautious at first, as it may be scorching hot. Drink with caution!

6. Don’t Jump Right In: If you want to become a real mate drinker and buy your own gourd, don’t drink from it immediately. The first time you use yours, fill it will yerba leaves and pour in hot water. Leave it for a day, then rinse it out and you should be good to go.

7. Don’t Clean It with Soap: And for goodness’ sake, never use soap to clean your gourd! You’ll forever ruin the flavor. Unless you plan on spitting up all over it (which you shouldn’t), just rinse after each use and have another round!

New Yorkers Are Proud; Argentinians Are Humble


There is a joke in Argentina—New Yorkers are proud while Argentinians are humble. This is because while New Yorkers are always looking up, presumably at the buildings surrounding them, Argentinians are always looking down.  Why?

Pardon my crassness, but no discussion of Argentina can be complete without bringing the dog poop that is firmly entrenched as sidewalk decor all over the capital, as well as Argentina’s other cities.  So, if you want to be Porteño for a day, it’s okay to dream big, but keep your head down! I don’t post this to be, umm, foul…just conveying a fact of daily life in the streets (and sidewalks) of this canine-friendly place.

See some of the different styles below…I just wonder, are these pups the culprits?

Dog in BA

Buenos Aires Dog 2


“So Small Could Fool You…”

Buenos Aires Sidewalk Poop 1


“Fresh Brew…”

Buenos Aires Sidewalk Poo 2


“Lump Sum…”

Buenos Aires Sidewalk Poo 3


“Spacey Special…”

Buenos Aires Sidewalk Poo 4


“Dragged Out…”

Buenos Aires Sidewalk Poo 5


And last, but certainly not least (disgusting), the “Already on My Floor at Home…”

Buenos Aires Sidewalk Poo 6




MyID: 01 April 2012 into Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza Airport


MyID: 8:49am, Sunday, April 1, 2012: Buenos Aires-Ezeiza International Airport

United Airlines flight UA847 from Washington-Dulles

Getting ready for my first visit to Argentina, I remember reading a lot about the country’s problems with corruption (although it is hardly alone there), and just giving myself the typical abroad-for-the-first-time pep talk about watching my back, making sure I looked like I knew what I was doing, where I was going, etc.

Rio de la Plata

Looking down into the brown waters of Rio de la Plata

When we began our Initial Descent into Ezeiza, I remember being surprised at what I saw out the window below, despite not having any preconception about what to expect in terms of physical landscape. Looking at the Rio de la Plata glistening below, I did not see what looked like a sea at all, but rather something that resembled a mud puddle. It was completely brown, as far as I could see. It turns out that it is just sediments that are carried into the body of water by local rivers–not pollution–but it is definitely eye-catching to see how it appears in the image below.

In this NASA satellite photo, you can see how the Rio de la Plata appears brown from sediments beginning around Montevideo, Uruguay (the large city visible left of the inlet), up through Buenos Aires (the larger city towards the bottom right).

Having gathered myself from the sight of the brown water, as we approached land I could see the outskirts of the city, then a vast plain of green and brown farmland rolling onto the horizon, and minutes later I was outside in the Autumn sun looking for Bus 86 to whisk me away to the city.