A Travellerspoint blog

Sharing in Argentina

Brush Your Teeth

In the US in elementary school you learn to share. In early middle school, boys and girls get cooties, and in high school they teach you that if you kiss someone you get herpes. By the time you graduate you've fully been trained to maintain a certain distance from people, especially strangers. That's why in Latin America us gringos have the reputation for being cold. A handshake, maybe a slap on the back, and everything geared toward the individual.

In Argentina, argued one South American friend, culture and products focus on groups and sharing. In greetings, everyone gets a kiss on the cheek, even men greeting men. Tables in restaurants are at least for 4 people. The concept of a parilla, or Argentine steakhouse, is based on sharing. Appetizers, such as fried provolone or sausage, is for everyone, just like in the States. But even the main meal, like steaks and pork dishes, are also shared. Everyone gets their own plate, but you cut pieces off pieces. It's basically everyone eating off the same plate.

At the bar, you can order a liter of beer (in a bottle), just like in Mexico. But the interesting thing is that people share beer with anyone and everyone. You sit down and someone passes you a sip of their drink. Someone you've never mrt and that may have cooties. And when you get you're drink, you're expected to share as well. To share your cooties back. The most typical "sharing" moment in Argentina is with mate, the tea. People gather around a thermos of hot water and mate to chat and hang out. If you join a group of people, you won't wait long till someone passes the mate to you.

So, so much for cooties. Even the flu epidemic that tried to curb the sharing culture wasn't able to prevent Argentines from cozying up and sharing a steak and a beer. Just be sure to share yours, too.

Posted by UnMejorHOY 18:58 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Museum of Modern Art

Short and simple- don't go unless you're a modern art freak. The Museum of Modern Art in the San Telmo neighborhood is cheap, just 2 Argentine pesos (roughly 50 cents, US). But that's the only nice thing about it. The first floor holds some interesting pieces, with artwork very similiar to what we saw in the MALBA yesterday. My favorite piece was one about the different types of vegetarians, with silhouettes made of cutout fruits and veggies.

On the bottom floor there's a room full of industrial furniture, with funky chairs and couches. To one side there's a pitch black room full of lit lamps, and a creepy guy watching to make sure you don't run off with a clunky lamp from the 70's. It's so lonely and empty you almost feel like you should start a conversation with the people working there. The rest of the museum is boring and ill-planned. Carlos and I got lost more than once, and many exhibits are around corners that you might not even notice. Or you think you're following the layout of things and you just come to a dead-end.

There is an enormous difference compared to the MALBA, even just in the vibe and ambiance. Many of the artwork themes are also similar to what's at the MALBA, so really just go there.

Posted by UnMejorHOY 20:33 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

MALBA Art Museum

Go, now.

We fiiinally got to a museum, after almost 3 weeks of travel. Friends had told us that we had to see the new exhibit at the MALBA, "Bye, Bye American Pie," so I was able to drag Carlos out there. The MALBA is in Palermo, close to Recoleta and the United Nations Park, and several embassies, like the Italian one. We took the 130 bus from San Telmo there and back. For the first time we were able to use our Casa HOY IDs, getting a 50% discount on the 25 Argentine peso entry fee. Whoo-hoo. They accept credit cards, dollars and obviously, Argentine pesos. The ground level holds some interesting, random pieces, a restaurant and a gift shop.

Up the escalator on the first floor is a crazy-ass exhibit for 18 and over filled with pieces by an artist who combined Eastern erotic paintings and Western Christian elements and braille. The collection is called "Brailles y recolecturas de la Bibilia," "Braille and Re-readings of the Bible." I saw more than enough private parts that were perforated by ironic Biblical quotes or poems by Borges in Braille. Other pieces have Eastern erotica combined in a collage with Christian figures such as angels and saints. The theory behind putting braille and visual art together is to add a second layer to the artistic experience. A sign read "prohibido no tocar" - "<em>not</em> touching is prohibited." However, we were not allowed to touch. Look up more about the artist's artistic theory and work, and enjoy some scenes of Eastern love-making while you're at it.

The 2nd floor holds the "Bye, Bye American Pie" exhibit, basically focuses on the lost values of America. The most hilarious piece is one of two robot George W. Bushes doing a pig from behind. Look up the pic online. The sick part is that there are sensors in the robot that all his stare to follow you as you walk around the room. Oh, America. The rest of the exhibit has a variety of work, photographs, collages, videos, sketches, etcetra that focus on themes such as drugs and alcohol, consumerism, war and other happy things. We watched a photo collection of people doing heroin (me peeking through my fingers- needles make me want to gag). I liked the ideas about consumerism, but it was difficult to focus on stuff about war. I'm so ill-informed and just uninterested, but when you realize how much people in other countries pay attention to our politics it's embarrassing to not be able to say anything.

The exhibits change quite often, but even if you don't like museums, these 2 exhibits are worthy seeing. So get your lazy but over there and buy me a postcard because I didn't have change at the time.

Posted by UnMejorHOY 18:52 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Yellow Fever Vaccine in Argentina

Like the thoughtful, well-planned travelers that's we are, we didn't get our yellow fever vaccines before we started on our trip. In Mexico it was going to cost us $60 apiece, with Carlos's uncle applying them for free. We just never made the time. And here in Buenos Aires, a few days before we head north, we finally took them time to find out where they apply the vaccine. There's actually quite a few places, and where we went it was free.

Right now we're staying in San Telmo, and the place we went to was literally 5 blocks away in Puerto Madero, on blahhh street. If you're in San Telmo, find Chile Avenue and head towards Puerto Madero. Cross Paseo Colon and then youll fome to Ingeniero Huergo, which is the busy street with all the tractor trailors. The street name changes to Petrona Eyle,and in a dingy, one story building on your left you'll see the Ministerio de Salud. It's right before the train tracks.

In order to get your vaccine, you need your original passport. I was lucky they let me use a copy of my passport, but don't count on it. You knock on the door on your far right, hand them your ID, and wait for them to call your name at the closest door on the right from the hallway entrance. You seriously feel like you're in a World War II health clinic; even the nurse barks out your name.

The vaccine is super quick and painless, at least for our pain threshold. If you get a fever you're supposed to take ibuprofen, NO aspirin. The certificate is good for 10 years. Just make sure it's signed and stamped. We are planning on going to Bolivia, where at least as US citizens you need the certificate proving your vaccine. Easy as pie.

Posted by UnMejorHOY 19:05 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

Ecological Reserve, Costanera

Sometimes being in such a tall city can be overwhelming and you just need to get away from it all. In Buenos Aires there are several oases where you can escape without even leaving the city. From the downtown Microcentro or San Telmo neighborhood you can head to the harbor, Puerto Madero, and cross over into the Ecological Reserve. The Coetanera is the riverside path that follows the marshy inlet of water around the Reserve. The main entrance is closer to the San Telmo side of the city, but there is at least one other entrance so walk or ask around.

Carlos and I grabbed a choripan (sausage sandwich) to go at the Desnivel restaurant in San Telmo and headed toward the coast. Apparently, though, the stands around the Reserve on the Costanera also offer an assortment of meat sandwiches if you forgot to pack a lunch. While many people exercise along Puerto Madero, the Reserve is the place to go if you're looking for some solitude and to enjoy a bit of nature.

It's free to get in, and you can run, walk or ride your bike. Or, as we saw more than once, find a secluded area to smoke some pot. Other people just grab mate (tea) and a blanket and head for a grassy spot on the shore. Obviously no swimming in the murky Rio de la Plata (river). There are several paths ranging from just a kilometer or two to 5 or 10 kilometers. I have no idea how far we walked or which one we were on. We just headed in and wandered around until we found our way out.

It's not exactly exciting, but we did see a flock of noisy, colorful parrots when we first walked in, and you can see some beautiful views of the Buenos Aires skyline. Just don't stray off the well-beaten path and don't forget to take your camera.

Posted by UnMejorHOY 19:03 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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