I should have written most of this while I was on the road, but now I guess I have the luxury to write everything with a bit of reflection. I do have some entries that I put on my laptop that I made in Argentina, but I will post that later. Here are random thoughts and observations:
- Argentina had a military dictatorship in the 70s. There was absolutly nothing which referenced or alluded to that during my trip except for one sign I saw outside of a historical building in Cordoba.
I don’t think you need to know spanish to figure out what is says…
- Nowhere did I see any beer or soda in a keg or founatin. Everything was in bottles. If you went to a bar, you got a big bottle of beer and glasses. All of the normal bottles of Coke/Diet Coke were glass. The 2L bottles were plastic.
- Due to a strike at the airline we were flying from Cordoba to Buenos Aires, we had to take a bus. The bus was far and away the nicest bus I’ve ever been on. All the buses looked like double decker Greyhound buses. The seats were all leather and were wider and had more legroom than a first class airline seat. You could easily sleep in the seat…..which we had to do.
- Meat. My God they like meat. We had a meal at a restaurant for 5 people with wine (3 bottles). The meat was all you can eat, and it wasn’t cheap-o meat either. It was big hunks of steak and rib. Total cost for 5 people with the exchange rate was $40. The exchange rate makes most stuff cheap, and food is additionally cheap on top of that. Ate at a buffet one night (very nice) that was less than $5.
- I still know nothing about the Argentinian revolution, but they are celebrating their bicentenial in 2010. They allude to the revolution on all their currency and many official signs/postings. Interesting how we may put the faces of founding fathers on money, but never refer to “the revolution”, but rather “the revolutionary war”.
- Argentina seems to be a nation shooting itself in the foot economically. They are very closed and protectionist compared to other Latin countries. The husband of one of the scientists we worked with ran a company in Guatamala and said business conditions there were better than Argentina. I was really suprised by that statement.
- When we use the term “Latin” in the non-ancient Roman sense of the word, we are almost exclusively using it to reference the world south of the US border. However, I heard many more reference to the word encompassing all the latin countries in Europe as well. I think the Argentinians view themselves as a European country more than a “latin america” country. (And there is some truth to that statement. Most of the population is descended from Spanish, Italian, or Swiss immigrants.)
- Much of our view of Latin America seems to come from Mexico. We tend to see all of it through the lens of Mexico or Central America. Other than language, Argentina seemed very very different. People have talked to me since my trip who assumed their cusine was similar to Mexican. It’s totally different. No tortillas anywhere .
- They REALLY like soccer.
- I had a geology student at a party come up and ask me in broken english if a) we really landed on the moon and b) if we had aliens in Area 51. I was sort of dumbfounded and I don’t think he got the reference when I told him we didn’t have aliens in Area 51, but we did in Area 51a.
I have photos up on Flickr now and you may see random ones appear on the left. I have a few short movie clips I’ll be adding soon.