One of the toughest changes of Argentina has been adapting to the daily schedule. We still get up and go to work six days a week. We still eat three square meals a day. But everything is a little… off.
For example–store hours. I’m not quite sure when things are open and when they are closed. Since almost every store in the town is a mom and pop venture, they choose their hours seemingly at random. Not much is open past 1pm on Sundays, and there’s a siesta period every afternoon where all the stores are closed. But, beyond that, it’s a gamble if the store you’d like to visit is actually open. Most people run their errands at night this time of year (a combination of Ituzaingo being a tourist town and that it’s been in the high 90 degrees most of the time we have been here), and some stores are open later into the night. Errands often require multiple tries for us to find the store open, and someone at the counter.
Even more than the store hours, we’ve found the meal schedule to be perplexing to our American stomachs. Breakfast and lunch are reasonable. Lunch normally comes from the on-site cafeteria, and tends to be either spaghetti, lomito (steak), or milanesa (veal), often with a “salad” of rice, carrots, and tomatoes. It’s much heartier than I’m used to eating… but they need all the nourishment they can get. Dinner isn’t normally served until 10pm in Argentina–and we’ve gotten quite a few “Oh, you silly Americans” looks from servers when we show up at a restaurant at 8pm. (On a side note, I know I’ve seen multiple articles back in the States saying that if you eat past 9pm, you’re doomed nutritionally. Clearly, the Argentinian press has not picked up on these articles.)
The whole concept of time seems to run slower here. It is very much a mañana (tomorrow) culture, without the constant pressure to provide immediate gratification one sees in the States. Although people are incredibly friendly here, they don’t rush. There isn’t the pressure to run from one activity to another to another after work. If we have errands, we try to do them. If we can’t… there’s always another day. (Frustratingly, this attitude seems to be amplified within government bureaucracy. But more on that adventure in another post.)
With the exception of still not being quite used to 10pm dinners, the change in pace has been a good one. After a 2013 full of stress and deadlines (planning a wedding, going on the honeymoon, buying a new car, buying a new house, and packing everything up for the Argentina move), we are glad to have the time to sit in the evenings and catch up on reading and personal work.