Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Good bye Argentina

I travelled two months in Argentina. Four weeks in Buenos Aires, the Capital and then another five weeks, by bus, plane and ship covering major tourist attractions and also out of the way regions. I am glad I spent the time ‘exploring’ this land. While a lot of information is available on line, there is nothing like actually interacting with Argentineans on a daily basis. I shared their hopes, dreams and daily lives throughout my journey. I am not speaking as an expert, but my comments were as I saw life.
There were some things that amazed me even though I anticipated many things through my study of Argentina before I actually took the trip. I knew the Pampa is flat. I knew that Patagonia is desolate. I knew that the IguaƧu Falls were in the jungle, etc. What I did not realize is that very few Africans live in Argentina. I saw only one black person in all the time I travelled throughout this Land. I never knew that I would be eating meat on an almost twice daily basis. That ‘sandwich’ almost always meant just ham & cheese. How about a tuna fish sandwich? I saw lines at gas stations, long lines.
I never knew there was a shortage of gas or was it the distribution system? I found the monetary policy of Argentina puzzling. No banks will change your pesos back to US Dollars if you do not have a receipt that you bought them at an exchange office or a bank. I saw people stand in line for buses, for taxis, for new subway cards and at the post offices. Obediently, they stood and seemed resigned to the fact that this is the proper behavior everywhere. Well, I can tell them it does not happen in the rest of the world.
Argentineans are fun loving people. They love to party and have a good time. They eat and drink well and seem to have some disposable income for social affairs. Family seems dear to them. The greetings, the small talk during daily lives was very important. A hello without a hug or a kiss was unheard of. Lots of smiles, lots of help to strangers were offered and I certainly loved that one. Argentineans are a friendly people. They are very social, very talkative, very open if a little loud sometimes. Sometimes I craved some quiet time but that was not in the cards, talk was everywhere.
Argentina is unlike other South American Countries I have visited so far. I name Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico for example. Yes, I can compare Argentina with some European countries I know, like Portugal or Spain, or some aspects of Italy, too. Argentina is huge. Traveling by bus made this especially noticeable. The distances are measured in days, not hours. The major cities are spread far out from each other with almost nothing in between them.
Over the last centuries all the land has been set up to be used for agriculture and or animal husbandry. I did not see much heavy industry; I did not see a huge fishing industry. Maybe I was in the wrong spots.
What I did see is that Argentina is very conscious of its natural heritage and takes the stewardship of the land it owns seriously. Or was that due to the fact that I lived among very young adults in hostels all those weeks and that the new generation is more conscious of the environment.
I don’t really know, but as it is, I liked Argentina. I would recommend it as a place to visit. If you visit, spread yourself across the land; visit the North, the South and everything in between. Argentina has a lot to offer for every point of view in life. I am glad I came.
Good bye Argentina and thank you for having me. I enjoyed my stay!

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