Wednesday, February 10, 2010

About Argentina and the people

A great article we found about Argentina and the people.
As the saying goes: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Following
this logic, when you’re in Argentina, eat, sleep and say it how it is.
Below, we have compiled a cheat sheet to clue you in on some of
the cultural nuances that make Argentina so very Argentine.
Hellos and Goodbyes
Entering a room full of Argentines takes a while. As is the custom,
you should go around and say hello and kiss everyone once on the
cheek. Repeat as you leave. And yes, we mean everyone in the
room, including babies. If you decide to slink out without the kisses,
be aware you run the risk of seeming rude or cold.
Grilled over the embers of poplar trees, asado (bbq) is a staple
in the diet, social and family life of nearly every Argentine. In
fact, Argentina’s per capita consumption of beef is way off the
charts. Eating a stunning average of 150 pounds of red meat a
year, Argentines consume double the USA’s average and almost
quadruple England’s.
While passing out for hours after a big lunch may not generally be
socially acceptable back home, here taking a siesta may even be
considered a compliment to the chef!
Even during the week it’s common to go home for lunch (the biggest
meal of the day), see family and catch a few zzz’s. Because of this,
the workday ends around 8 p.m., but it’s considered worth it for
quality of life. Besides, most of the stores are closed from 1 p.m.- 4
p.m., so you might as well take a snooze!
Thanks to the siesta, you may actually be able to keep your eyes
open at dinner, which may begin as late as 11 p.m.! This local
schedule may actually work in your favor, as it is never a problem
to get a table at 9 p.m., though most likely your fellow diners will
be foreigners.
It’s not just the late start that makes dinner an endurance activity.
Argentines also usually partake in what’s called the sobre mesa or
“over the table,” which is basically an extended chatting time after
the meal. It´s very rare for a waiter to hover or rush a table out; in
fact you usually have to go to extreme lengths to get the bill.

Another notable difference at gatherings here in Mendoza is the
separation of the sexes. While it’s not always the case, it isn’t odd
to see all the males of a group on one side of the table, with all the
females on the other. When asked why the dining sex segregation
exists, most Argentines give the same answer, “So can men talk
about what interests men and women can talk about what interests
Punctuality (or lack thereof)
It is not a big deal to be late. In fact, the more time you’re here,
you’ll come to expect it. Outside of tourist excursions and buses,
nothing runs like clockwork. Invitations that say 9 p.m. should really
be translated as 10 or 11 p.m. This is not considered rude, it’s just
how it is. If your instincts won’t let you show up late, do yourself
a favor and bring a book because you’re going to be waiting for a
Football/SoccerFútbol, as it’s known here, is the national passion and has the power
to capture the whole country’s attention. International offices are
shut down, streets are abandoned and appointments cancelled
during the World Cup. On an average Sunday, it is normal to watch
hours and hours of soccer after a big asado, especially, but not
exclusively for men.
Political Correctness
In general, Argentines are not worried about political correctness,
from other people or themselves. We assure you, in no other place
would someone so readily admit to being 30, overweight and living
with their parents.
According to your weight, you are labeled either gordo/a (fatty) or
flaco/a (skinny). Despite the bluntness, these comments do not
regularly inspire anxiety or weight complexes. In fact, weight is
an open topic that is regularly commented on by locals. Friends
and family members make you immediately own up to a few extra
pounds and will probably try to serve you an extra helping if you are
looking a little thin.
Age isn’t off limits either. Many people even mention this taboo subject
in conversation of their own accord.
If you have dark skin and hair you will be called negro/a (darky) and
you don’t even have to have blonde hair to be a rubio/a (blondie); all
it takes is light skin.
This call-it-how-it-is honesty doesn’t stop there. Just consider
yourself lucky if you aren’t called pelado/a (baldie) or enano/a
Also, Spaniards are gallego/a (Galician), Arabs turco/a (Turkish) and
all Asians chino/a (Chinese). The same follows suit with Americans;
despite the many years since the end of the Civil War, they are
known as yanquis (Yankees).
RomanceIt’s quite normal here to live at home until reaching the age of 30
or marriage, whichever comes first. It is rare for “children” to move
out of the house before that, even to study. Most stay in the city they
were born, keeping family ties strong. It is not, however, normal to be
single until you’re 30, which makes for awkward dating sleepovers.
But Argentina’s got an answer for that as well… introducing the
telo. These “romance hotels” are reserved by the hour or the night
and aren’t nearly as sketchy as they sound. Like hotels, there are
options for every budget. The level corresponds to price, the highest
of which may include jacuzzis or even themed rooms.

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