Hey everyone, I'm back with another post following a more quiet week in Buenos Aires. From new sights around the city and being able to escape the hustle and bustle of BA for the day on Saturday (8/9/14), this week has been another interesting one. With classes now in full swing, I'm getting into more of a regular routine during the week. Contrary to popular belief, yes I am actually taking classes and not just roaming around South America; but I would have no problem doing that too.
After a quiet beginning to the week, my group and I left Buenos Aires on Saturday and traveled to a typical Argentine "estancia," or ranch. It was about an hour away from BA, so having another opportunity to see more of the surrounding area was just what I needed. We got to the ranch at 11:30 in the morning and had the chance to go horseback riding. For anyone that was around for my 3rd birthday party, my parents rented a horse (or donkey?) for the occasion. After countless unsuccessful attempts to persuade me to ride it, my parents ultimately made me do it with the mentality "we rented this horse for you and you're going to get on it for one picture!" Needless to say, that infamous picture is of me screaming my head off on the horse. So ever since that nightmare, I haven't been on a horse.
To make a long story short, my friends and I rode the horses around the ranch with a guide and it was better than I anticipated. Afterwards, we explored more of the estancia, went into the museum, rode in another carriage-type-thing, and relaxed before having a traditional Argentine Asado (or BBQ). The food was worth the wait and we watched a few "gauchos" (cowboys) play music thereafter.
The day ended watching the gauchos play a famous game. The men line up on their horses and sprint towards an overhang where a small ring hangs on a rubber tube. They have to get the ring onto a small stick (about the size of a pen) that they hold in one hand. The pictures of it are below.
The significance of the game is that the gauchos played it to impress women and then give them the rings. If a woman received a ring, that was equivalent to the gauchos asking her to marry him. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it was fun to watch at the time.
Also while at the estancia, we learned that when Argentines are taking a picture, they do not say "cheese" like Americans do. Instead, they say whiskey. Just a small detail I thought was interesting.
Speaking of whiskey, the culture of drinking here is very different than that of the US. The legal drinking age here is 18, however, that rule is not strictly enforced. Not that it impacts me or anyone on the trip, but with how easily accessible alcohol is to the public, no one seems to bat an eyelid when it comes to drinking. It can be early in the day, on the streets, on public transportation, at coffee shops, etc. and no one seems to care. Argentina is tends to be very liberal and accepting with things like this. However, the most interesting part of this is that NO ONE seems to get drunk. Being visibly drunk in Argentina is a taboo because it's not socially acceptable at all. Conversely in the States, hoards of people leave restaurants, bars, and clubs incoherently all the time. From what I've noticed, Argentines that go to clubs and bars do not even overindulge and, more so, just go to hangout with their friends. I like this mentality and from what many Argentines have told me, its just the fact that they have had access to it for so long that makes it not as appealing anymore.
I bring up this point after last night when my friends and I witnessed a drunken man stumble onto the bus that we were taking. After nearly five minutes, the man was easily the most obnoxious Argentine that I've seen, as the people on the crowded bus just kept saying "borracho, borracho, borracho" (which means drunk). For four Americans to witness an entire bus look at this man with such disgust was a very interesting experience. And it did not help his case by muttering curse words in both Spanish and English directly at different people, but luckily he got off at the next stop. It ended with an Argentine couple sitting near us apologizing to us for having to see that. They basically said that they hoped that we did not think less of Argentina for it.
This Wednesday (8/13/14) some friends and I are going to Mendoza, Argentina for our 4 day weekend. Known for its countless wineries and adventure sports, Mendoza is a 15 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires. We plan to see the wineries one day, do a bike tour another day, and that's all that I know as of right now. I'll keep you all updated on my adventures in my next post. Talk to you soon!
"No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive." - Mahatma Gandhi | August 10, 2014