Argentina: Land of the Generous

M

maskow

Guest
#1
I really couldn't believe that the "selfish" thread lasted so long (and now it's morphed into part2!)

How long can we continue THIS thread? Certainly as long or longer.

BsAs in particular had little or no experience with tourism 3 years ago...today it handily welcomes more than its population in annual visitors.

Argentina is still open to immigration 19th century-style. Immigration requirements are actually part of the constitution. I would love to see a ranking of countries as to their acceptance of immigrants...then I would like to see how many of those countries you would even consider immigrating to.

Do you attempt to speak the local language? You really should. It doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, it can be bad. But it represents effort, humility, and the attitude of a guest...which is what you are. If you don't you should be prepared for at least a variant of the yankee sobriquet, "If those people want to come here why don't they learn English?!?"

Do you buy a local newspaper everyday? You really should...at least the English language editions. If you do, you will very likely drum up a friendship with your local kiosquero which will be source of advise, answers and a venue for shared experiences. There are quiosqueros that remember me from years ago when I was "just visiting".

Do you buy flowers? You should (especially some of the more bitter among us.) The lowly jasmine will fill your place with perfume for a couple-two-tree pesos and give you another opportunity to fall into the rythym and music of Buenos Aires as well as friendly discussion of the weather and, possibly, some advise or answers that you might need. Not only that...you'll keep in business one of the little parts of this city's soul.

Do you walk? For all its narrow broken sidewalks (I have a collection of travelogues that go back more than 100 years of English language complaints about the sidewalks here!) this is a very walkable city and shot-through with greenspace and balconies overflowing with santaritas (bougainvillas) and little shops that harken back to the 19th century selling buttons, brushes, ladies' hats, etc. The best way to know a town...and maybe the only way to love a town and be loved in return...is to burn some shoe leather. Walk. Get tired. Stop at a cafe. Restore yourself. Walk some more. And don't forget to talk. Your health, your Spanish, and even your attitude will improve.

Notice the light. I never hear it mentioned but if you notice it and maybe mention it to others, you'll realize that the sunlight here is special. Something like the Greek isles are famous for.

Breathe. Rush hours can, indeed, make you gag. However, pay attention to how Our Lady of the Good Winds blows the nox out almost immediatly afterward. That's something I've never encountered in my safaris of the great, large cities of the world.

In breathing, you'll notice sometimes that you've wandered into the invisible envelope of a jasmine or tilo tree...if the humidity is dense enough (very rare), you'll swear as though you and your clothing have been saturated with the perfume in a lasting way.

Let yourself feel the natural cycles of the day. If you're lucky enough to be at your leisure, don't forget to feel that "skipping school" sort of feeling as you watch millions of people make their way to work, lunch, meetings, home. And if you find yourself on one of the bondis (city buses) during peak times...especially during the semana brava ("the tough week" of heat and humidity) try to notice what you aren't noticing: these are a very clean people! Try to compare that to being crammed into a bus or subway car in the middle of Summer wherever you are from...the stench back home would be deadly.

Look at the pretty girls and how they fight for their art of beauty. Look at the older men and the porteño elegance they maintain...even if it is a little threadbare on occasion, the choice of fabrics and cuts of their suits have an elegance that is/should be a national treasure. Notice how the elderly are completely and totally integrated into the activity of the city. Ancient women do their shopping and make their purchases...and sometimes you'll see them chance to meet friends in the street. It's really beautiful. It's also something I've never seen to this extent in the US (maybe in Chicago's Little Italy...back when that was really in existence.)

Go out at night...even if you are older or just not used to late night "carousing". You'll find that you feel safe...probably safer than in your (old?) hometown. Notice how lots of foot trafic on a street makes things safer. Keep an eye especially open for octogenarians taking an ice cream after midnight. There is, of course, crime here. But whatever the crime rate, it doesn't scare the elderly or anyone else off the street like it does in the country of my particular birth.

This might surprise you but my foreign visitors to Chicago would always ask the question, "Where are all the OLD people?" If you can't notice it here and now...try to remember to notice it when you return home to the states.

Depending on you're background, you will soon get a feel for what it is like to live and work here. When that happens, try to develop a little tolerance for young people that work hard under difficult conditions, pocketing each week what you spend for dinner...even as they maintain their hopes and dreams in an unsure country and world. They are inclined to let off steam...but I'm unaware of young people anywhere that don't. Keep in mind while you apply your foam earplugs (you should!) that many more of them will be partying in your apartment building Friday and Saturday now that the city has embraced a northern hemisphere attitude of 24/7 total prohibition toward protecting your right to smoke-free bars and nightclubs (those places and hours among which one writer to this forum aparently likes to take his children.) A bit of imported intolerance that comes with a price as does everything.

I haven't covered everything! Let all lovers of the beauty and art and artfulness of this tremendous city and country post here and post here and POST HERE...until the admin is forced to close the thread!!!

Your friend and lover, Buenos Aires,
maskow

p.s.

"Friendly and open" are quite subjective qualities. In the interest of full disclosure, I lived in Le Marais, Paris for a month...dying for a "souvenir" experience of classic parisienne rudeness...I never got one. In fact, I was daily beset with random acts of senseless kindness. (Now you know who you're dealing with.)

My 3 years here have been even more enjoyable in this regard. I think I can explain this: people from rural, small-town, and even suburban parts of the US consider my hometown of Chicago very rude...notwithstanding much anecdotal evidence of it being the friendliest big city in the country. Buenos Aires is a big city...big cities are difficult to live in, work in, move around in, stay-on-schedule in. Don't expect to be treated and accorded the recognition that you would in Peoria or a small Thai village...people just don't have that kind of time. However, sociologists will tell you that there is a method to approaching "bigcityites" and receiving the attention you need and/or crave. To wit, don't approach strangers with a big, open smile and greeting...you will look suspicious to them. Instead, approach with the words, "Pardon me, I have a problem, I was wondering if you could help me." Then stand back as the flood gates of personal aid open. As busy and harried and, yes, suspicious as these residents are...(perhaps, even, because of that!) they each consider themselves to be tremendous experts in surviving and enjoying the city in which they live. They will, in Paris, NYC, Chicago, and any other megopolis that I have visited, literally go out of their way to help you and make your experience enjoyable if you make their acquaintance in this way. Try it. You'll like the results.pps. See you tonight, Igor.
 
#5
Thanks for cutting the gripe.
You have instilled true poetics in your appreciation of Buenos Aires. You reminded me of what I once felt for this city: passion.
I propose you as the BA Expats writer of the year!
 
#6
I saw lots of people generously throwing their trash today. in fact the street was a pile of blowing litter, so generousity abounds. then around 11am as i was doing errands, each street, and each corner i turned i encountered a generous amount of black smoke just pouring out of the busses going by and the morning delivery trucks which are generously allowed by the govt. and police to aim their tailpipes at the sidewalk and engulf you in unburned hydocarbons. Then, with my bags in hand, i saw the people who in their generousity i guess, were parked in the pedestrian crosswalks, forcing people farther out into traffic and anyone wanting to use the handicap ramp could just forget it. those people can be SO selfish wanting a ramp etc.
I guess argentines are so used to this that it means nothing. to them a bus actually sounds like an airplane and they can walk through a cloud of pollution and not miss a beat. well, were all over the place on this topic, nearly 100 posts on the various threads and all over the place.
When i arrived in argentina, there were so many daily, hourly kidnappings the news couldnt report them all. movie stars would scream and cry for their father, children wouldnt come home from the movies. my students all had accounts of horrors. one was carjacked outside a relatives home, the mother put the infant under the seat thinking they would all be killed and barely got the child back. then when they survived, they called the Martinez (upscale suburb) police, sorry he was told, we have no cars. you must come here. there were some 10 robberies in that small area that night. hmm, what a coincidence.
there were about 10 or more currencies around at the time. and even then, no change.
i think the money weve all poured into this place either in investment or tourism dollars has made a big difference for them.
 
#7
And I guess you so generously graced everyone in Agrentina with your presence, huh? True, there is lots of trash. Pick it up and/or write the government. As for the buses...well, how do you expect people to get around? I use the buses everyday. It would be pretty much impossible to impose California like emisson standards on a country where someone with a Phd is forced to drive a taxi. How could anyone afford it? I thought this thread was for those of us who actually enjoy Argentina enough to say so.
 
#8
"JG" said:
i think the money weve all poured into this place either in investment or tourism dollars has made a big difference for them.
Hehe, JG, no-one with real capital is going to invest (in any real sense) in Argentina. What passes for investment is speculative activity in property and moving jobs like, say, translation and call centre work from other countries to Argentina. There is a plethora of countries that are friendly to capital, that bend over backwards to provide docile, educated workforces and adequate infrastructures. How is Argentina, with its venal politicans, lazy and unreliable workers, and culture of dependency and whining, going to compete in world markets for capital? The politicians -- from Kirchner on downwards -- don't even know how the world works. Their university degrees are in law or psychology or some such nonsense. How many engineers and scientists does the country boast? And how many engineers and scientists are in charge of things? China's senior people are mostly engineers. Just South Korea graduates 55,000 engineers annually (with a population of under 40m). Argentina isn't even on the map in these areas. As I said before, it missed the boat a long time ago. Argentina is renowned for beef, tango and football (and not experimental plasma physics or just-in-time manufacturing): Argentinians should be distressed by this, not proud.
 
#9
Tourism will continue to grow as most of the tourism comes from Brazil a country of over 200 million people with a ever increasing middle class .
Sure it will be dearer in the coming years and that will put the brake somewhat on american tourism but the surrounding markets of Brazil and other south american countries will give this country many years of economic growth
 

nikad

Registered
#10
"JG" said:
I saw lots of people generously throwing their trash today. in fact the street was a pile of blowing litter, so generousity abounds. then around 11am as i was doing errands, each street, and each corner i turned i encountered a generous amount of black smoke just pouring out of the busses going by and the morning delivery trucks which are generously allowed by the govt. and police to aim their tailpipes at the sidewalk and engulf you in unburned hydocarbons. Then, with my bags in hand, i saw the people who in their generousity i guess, were parked in the pedestrian crosswalks, forcing people farther out into traffic and anyone wanting to use the handicap ramp could just forget it. those people can be SO selfish wanting a ramp etc.
I guess argentines are so used to this that it means nothing. to them a bus actually sounds like an airplane and they can walk through a cloud of pollution and not miss a beat. well, were all over the place on this topic, nearly 100 posts on the various threads and all over the place.
When i arrived in argentina, there were so many daily, hourly kidnappings the news couldnt report them all. movie stars would scream and cry for their father, children wouldnt come home from the movies. my students all had accounts of horrors. one was carjacked outside a relatives home, the mother put the infant under the seat thinking they would all be killed and barely got the child back. then when they survived, they called the Martinez (upscale suburb) police, sorry he was told, we have no cars. you must come here. there were some 10 robberies in that small area that night. hmm, what a coincidence.
there were about 10 or more currencies around at the time. and even then, no change.
i think the money weve all poured into this place either in investment or tourism dollars has made a big difference for them.
Selfish and Generous, Ugly and Beautiful Buenos Aires is very well described by one of the most well known tango lyrics: Cambalache

Que el mundo
fue y sera una porqueria,

ya lo se...

En el quinientos seis

y en el dos mil también!

Que siempre ha habido chorros,

maquiavelos y estafaos,

contentos y amargaos,

valores y dublés...

Pero que el siglo veinte

es un despliegue

de maldad insolente

ya no hay quien lo niegue.

Vivimos revolcaos en un
merengue

y en un mismo lodo

todos manoseaos...
Hoy resulta que es lo mismo

ser derecho que traidor..!

Ignorante, sabio, chorro,

generoso o estafador!

Todo es igual! Nada es mejor!

Lo mismo un burro

que un gran profesor!

No hay aplazaos ni escalafon,

los inmorales nos han igualao.

Si uno vive en la impostura

y otro roba en su ambicion,

da lo mismo que sea cura,

colchonero, rey de bastos,

caradura o polizon...
Que falta de respeto,

que atropello a la razon!

Cualquiera es un señor!

Cualquiera es un ladron!

Mezclao con Stavisky va
Don Bosco

y "La Mignon,"

Don Chicho y Napoleon,

Carnera y San Martin...

Igual que en la vidriera
irrespetuosa

de los cambalaches

se ha mezclao la vida

y herida por un sable sin
remache

ves llorar la Biblia

contra un calefon.
Siglo veinte, cambalache

problematico y febril!

El que no llora, no mama,

y el que no afana es un
gil.

Dale nomas! Dale que va!

Que alla en el horno

nos vamo a encontrar!

No pienses mas,

sentate a un lao.

Que a nadie importa

si naciste honrao.

Que es lo mismo el que labura

noche y dia, como un buey

que el que vive de los otros,

que el que mata o el que
cura

o esta fuera de la ley.

And here is the english version

That the world
was and it will be filth,

I already know...

In the year five hundred
and six

and in the year two
thousand too!

There always have been thieves,

traitors and victims of
fraude,

happy and bitter people,

valuables and imitations

But, that the twentieth
century

is a display

of insolent malice,

nobody can deny it anymore.

We lived sunk in a fuzz

and in the same mud

all well-worn...
Today it happens it is the
same

to be decent or a traitor!

To be an ignorant, a genius,
a pickpocket,

a generous person or a swindler!

All is the same! Nothing
is better!

They are the same, an idiot
ass

and a great professor!

There are no failing grades
or merit valuations,

the inmorals have caught
up with us.

If one lives in a pose

and another, in his ambition,
steals,

it's the same if it's a
priest,

a matress maker, a king
of clubs,

a cad or a tramp.
What a lack of respect,

what a way to run over reason!

Anybody is a gentleman!

Anybody is a thief!

Mixed with Stavinsky, you
have Don Bosco

and La Mignon

don Chicho and Napoleon,

Carnera and San Martin.

Like in the disrespectful
window

of the bazaars,

life is mixed up,

and wounded by a rivetless
sword

you can see a Bible crying

against a water heater.
Twentieth century, bazaar

problematic and feverish!

If you don't cry you don't
get fed

and if you don't steal you're
a stupid.

Go ahead! Keep it up!

That there, in hell

we're gonna reunite.

Don't think anymore,

move out of the way.

Nobody seems to care

if you were born honest.

It's the same the one who
works,

day and night like an ox,

than the one who lives from
the others,

than the one that kills
or heals

or than the one who lives
outside the law.

-----------
I never trust the media, they show what they want when they want for their own reasons, you just cannot be so naive!