Distinctly Argentinian Challenges (as told in gifs)

It’s Memorial Day weekend in the USA! (Which I completely didn’t realize until about an hour ago.) I love gifs–they so succinctly signal an emotion or thought. So how better to start off the weekend then talk about some Argentinian peculiarities (at least to this estadounidense) through the lovely use of gifs? Without further ado…

1. Lines everywhere.  It is a very Argentinian thing to stand in line. You stand in line to pay your bills at RapiPago every month. You stand in a 45 minute long line for the ATM. You stand in line at the gate at the airport 20 minutes before your flight is supposed to be boarding. Clearly, Argentinians enjoy standing in line much more than I do.

waiting2. Diets are not “eat healthier.” Diets (at least for the ladies I’ve met) are not solved by eating healthier and/or exercising. It is far more common to hear that they drink more mate (to suppress their appetite), take up smoking (yuck), do those weird electrodes on your beer gut things in a local “health spa,” or just stop eating. It’s odd.

qgpyule520vfyl7x2pbp

tumblr_mn7tmrdaIP1qfgdsoo1_5003. Work to live, not live to work. I’m kind of all about this philosophy. In Argentina, family comes first, and work most definitely comes second. This means that they’ll work the hours required, and even overtime (paid), but then get the heck out of Dodge and not think about work until Monday. Admirable.

u4dnverv3gke1a63shxy4. SO. MUCH. CANDY. Argentinians are serious about sugar. It’s not a party without Coca Cola (just the regular kind, please), and it seems like every occasion calls for chocolates, cookies, or pastries of some variety.

kimmy schmidt candy for dinner5. They party hard. I’m a big fan of sleep. I am in bed by 1am at the latest, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve pulled an all-nighter, whether for studying or for fun. But the Argentinians start early, and just keep on going. It’s not abnormal to start eating dinner at an asado at 8pm, and by 2am you’re at the club… and you’re expected to be there until 8am or 9am. (Caveat: they do not binge drink the way Americans tend to. But they also, inexplicably, don’t seem to hydrate enough in general. I’m downing liters of water and people look at me like I’m crazy.)

dalek party hard hnzwa07qmi6x5r2lmxep r57beg6zjidepvfj0d2nHappy Memorial Day, everyone! Cook some burgers, go to the beach, enjoy that summer weather! I’ll hold down the fort here in the southern hemisphere.

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What to Buy in Argentina

If you’re going to Argentina for a week, a month, or several years, you might be wondering what to pick up along the way. We certainly were! Here’s what we’ve come up with as either good deals and/or quintessentially Argentinian items:

Alpargatas

Don’t know what these are? I actually bet you do.  Known in the US as Toms, these canvas slip on shoes with rubber soles are incredibly common footwear in Argentina. You can find them in every store (even the grocery store), and they are significantly cheaper than their $60 per pair US cousins. Stock up on the fun patterns and colors.

alpargatas jastyle

image from jastyle.com

 

Mate Kits

Is there anything more Argentinian than mate? I think not. Take away an Argentinian’s mate cup, and it’s like you took away his left arm. Needless to say, with mate being so ubiquitous, there are thousands of mate designs and materials. Mates can be gourds, wooden, ceramic–the ingenuity given to this simple item boggles the mind. I’ve even seen some extremely high end ones made of sterling silver. Just be careful about bringing yerba mate back to the US–it looks suspiciously like marijuana to US customs. You can buy yerba mate Stateside in more hippie-dippie grocery stores like Whole Foods, and it’s also available on Amazon (as all things are…).  Even if you don’t like the taste of mate, having the actual mate kit is a fun souvenir that really is the most Argentinian thing ever.

image from salmiartesanias.com

image from salmiartesanias.com

Gems and Other Stones

At all of the tourist traps and in all the airport shops, you’ll see all sorts of little statues, beads, and jewelry made of precious stones. Argentina is full of beautiful gems (see: Wanda Mines near Iguazu).  A lot of it can get touristy very quickly–but some of the pieces are beautiful! Generally reasonable prices, particularly outside of the heavily touristy areas.

Wine

Argentina is the land of Malbec. Beautiful, delicious malbec. It’s easy to grab a great bottle of wine at the grocery store for less than $10USD–so save some room in your luggage or home goods shipment for some bottles. Just be ready to pack them up nicely–I like these wine bags.

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

Leather Goods

From purses to belts to shoes to jackets–leather is king, and it is good quality and cheap. There are some really inventive and high quality leather goods to be found in Argentina. I’ve found it best to not just frequent the stores on Avenida Florida, but instead to branch out to more of the boutique places to find some really good deals on really interesting pieces.  If you’re looking for a good brand name, try Prune. They’re based in almost every city in Argentina, and make very good quality. Also, their stores make you feel incredibly fancy–they’re set up like very high end boutiques in the US, and often their associated speak at least a bit of English to help the confused tourist.

Via ArgentinaIndependent.com

Via ArgentinaIndependent.com

ALL THE MEAT

This one only applies if you’ll be here for a while, but if you’re going full on expat and you have a kitchen, take advantage of the incredibly low meat prices (especially high quality, grass-fed beef). That random braising method you were nervous to try with pricey US meat? Do it here!

Home Accents and Hardware from the 1890s to 1940s

Do you have a home in that age range? Get thee to San Telmo! We found lots of neat hardware (doorknobs, drawer pulls, fixtures) from this time frame–and for reasonably cheap. Those years were Argentina’s hey-day, when the world saw Buenos Aires as one of the richest and most luxurious cities in the world. (Harrod’s even had their ONLY other store in Buenos Aires! It’s now shut down since the 2001 economic crisis, but the building still stands with the original sign on Avenida Florida.) Stock up on some of these awesome little items–not just souvenirs, but really practical as well!

The other item in large supply at San Telmo are the old glass seltzer water bottles. In beautiful green and blue glass, these are virtually never seen in the US–but are incredibly common in flea markets in Argentina! Even today, you can get a seltzer man to come to your house and fill up your bottles. (Apparently this is now a hipster thing in the US. )

Via Gringo in Buenos Aires... otherwise known as one of the best blogs about life in Argentina

Via Gringo in Buenos Aires… otherwise known as one of the best blogs about life in Argentina

I’m sure we’ll think of other good things to pick up in Argentina and I’ll have to do a part two! The country is full of exciting street fairs and flea markets–with lots of inventive craftspeople showing their wares.