By Molly Kraisinger
While Cincinnati has been experiencing some extremely cold weather lately, I was able to spend a week in Buenos Aires January15 through January 23. My mom was one of the top sales people at Epicore, so she won a week trip to Argentina as a business vacation. I was her lucky guest that she was able to bring along. My plane left in the winter snow of North America and arrived after the 12 hour flight in the 102 degree summer weather of South America. I found that Buenos Aires was similar to Cincinnati. It is a big city of about 3 million people, budding up to a 100 mile wide river, the Rio de la Plata. I was a little disappointed to find that the closest beach was four hours away.
The first day I arrived we were tired from the long overnight flight, so we lounged by the pool then went and slept in our hotel. The second day my mom had a business meeting so I sunbathed by the green pool. The filter had broken, so to cool off I would rinse off at the outdoor shower. On the third day my mom and I went on a boat tour through the canals of the Rio de la Plata. Even though the river is fresh water it is very brown and dirty. It looks like the Ohio River after a storm. In recent news there had even been piranha attacks in the river. Along the canals there were beautiful big summer houses, and little kids who dared to swim in the river.
Argentina is well known for its meat production and leather goods. At almost every restaurant you can get a slab of beef about the size of your head. Most people in Argentina don’t go out to dinner until 9:30 PM. They do everything there a lot later. A person we met at the pool who lived in Argentina told us how teens and people in their twenties usually don’t go out at night until 3am and stay out until almost 7in the morning. I wonder when they ever find time to sleep!
While in Argentina, I went with my mom and checked out the very famous cemetery in the Recoleta neighborhood. Tour guides told us how cool it was and that it was a “must do” while visiting, I was a little confused how going through a gravesite would be cool. The cemetery itself was like a neighborhood, containing rows and rows of both old and new mausoleums. Only very prominent people were buried there with generations of families dating back to the 1700s. One of the most famous is the burial spot of Eva Peron a former first lady of Argentina and beloved actress. We heard an interesting story of how her body was taken from her grave and put on tour, then later returned to her grave.
A very important sport to the culture is polo. The world’s best polo player, Adolfo Cambiaso, is from Argentina. My mother and I went to his family’s house and received personal polo lessons from his brother. A man Ezekiel picked us up from our hotel and the whole way there was telling us how big of a deal this was. He compared Marcial, the brother of Adolfo, to a famous NFL football star in the United States. By the time we had arrived we were so nervous to meet the family. They set us up with our horses, helmets, and mallets. Polo is a lot harder than you think. Not only was I trying to learn how to ride and control my horse, but I was trying to hit a ball with a mallet as well. The family was very welcoming and we had lunch and tea with them after spending a few hours on the horses. After lunch they usually have coffee or tea. Ezekiel told me about the traditional mate tea of Argentina. I hate tea of any kind, but he insisted I try it. It is a bitter tea that you can have warm or cold, for our purpose we put a spoonful of sugar so it wasn’t as bitter. It is in a gourd cup that you fill with the mate leaves, then pour in water and sip through a filtering straw. At first when they handed it to me after sipping through it, I was hesitant to drink out of the straw that all of their mouths have been on. It would have been disrespectful to wipe of the straw, so I put my germaphobe ways aside and drank it. It is a social thing they do where one person pours water in the gourd drinks it up, then passes to the next person to fill and drink to their pleasure.
Tango is a big part of their culture and one night while there we attended a dinner with a Tango show. I enjoyed it a lot and they even pulled willing customers away from their dinner table to try and dance with them. While shopping at a festival by the cemetery, we bought a couple handmade oil paintings of people doing the tango. The festival had a long winding strip of booths containing mates, handmade items, and art work. There were several stands there holding Argentina pastries and multiple fruit cups stands.
It’s always great to be able to go out and experience a new culture. I found the Argentinian culture very alive and the people extremely polite and inviting.