Tuesday, August 27, 2013

May I Present You to... MAFALDA!

"...Will God have patented this idea of a round asylum?"

"Mommy, cars are beings that attack humans to defend themselves against what?"

[1] "Good morning. What kind of world do we have today: First, Second, or Third?"
[2] "No, wait..."
[3] "It's better if you go take a peek, and if there is liberty, justice, and those kinds of things,
wake me up, whatever kind of world it is!"

<3 Mafalda

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Elecciones Primarias de Argentina

Just last week, seated on the second floor of a Starbucks on Avenida Callao with a view of the street below, I witnessed my very first manifestación.
The march I saw was for this group in particular.

In the past few weeks, manifestaciones, political protests, have filled the streets of Buenos Aires with the aim to demonstrate against corruption, crime, and inflation just before Primary Election Day arrived.
Masses gather at Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential office,
to protest the government under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Source: The Sacramento Bee

Source: The Sacramento Bee
"Enough corruption!"
"¡Basta!" is a popular cacerolazo, a demonstration for which
protestors bang on pots and pans.
Source: The Sacramento Bee

That day is today, the Eleventh of August, in the year of our Lord, 2013.

Today, citizens across the country are returning to their pueblos to cast mandatory votes. It's difficult to say which way this election will go, though personally, I have heard a lot of anti-Kirchner sentiments in the time I've been here. Many say Cristina Fernández is responsible for the dramatic inflation the country has experienced in its recent past. High-profile corruption (including corruption within the police force, etc.) is also a huge concern for Argentinians.
Movie star? No. Incumbent Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. 

To read a bit about the election standing:

The thing about elections in Argentina is that with every new president, another page is turned - making a rather hefty book full of turbulent history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_heads_of_state_of_Argentina

Al final, we'll have to wait and see who will be added to that list of leaders... or, possibly, who will remain.

Monday, August 5, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 005

Thefts are, unfortunately, extremely common in Buenos Aires. Anywhere you go, you should be mindful of the valuables you carry. The following also applies if you're strolling about Corrientes or taking a coffee break with a friend; but specifically when taking public transportation: colectivos (buses), el subte (subway), or even taxis, watch your belongings.

I don't have enough fingers to count the number of Argentines (and those who have lived here long enough to know the culture) who have told me to be careful on public transportation.

The gist is this. On colectivos and on el subte:
If you have a purse, it better be one with a long enough strap to sling across your body.
If you have a backpack, wear it backwards so it's in front of you.
When boarding or waiting to board, watch yourself and the people around you.
When stepping off, watch yourself and the people around you.
Make sure you know where all of your belongings are at all times.

In taxis:
It's better to share one with someone you trust rather than ride alone.
It's better to choose a younger driver. (Why? Because older drivers have years of swindling tricks under their belts.)
Make sure you get the right change back.
Make sure your change is real money.

As a general rule, don't put money in your back pocket - or in any pocket on your back side where you can't see it and/or feel it - and don't get it out while you're riding.

You'll want to take pictures of la gran ciudad. That's great. However, you'll need to be careful every time you decide to whip out your camera - especially if you have that fancy Nikon D5300.

Know the areas you visit beforehand to know just how vigilant you'll need to be. For example, Barrio Once is notoriously dangerous. Everyone knows to avoid La Flor at night. These are the kinds of things el peregrino should know for general safety.

I'm sure all of this applies generally to any bigger city. This is my first time living among such a large number of people, so I'm a little overly-worried and over-cautious... But that's better than getting robbed, right?

Suerte, amigos --

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 004

While in Buenos Aires, shed any preference you may have had for personal space.

This rule includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Standing in line at the grocery store
  • Doing anything else at the grocery store
  • Walking down the sidewalk
  • Ordering food in a fast-food restaurant setting
  • Taking public transportation
  • Milling about a feria
  • Hanging out at a bar/club

    Refer to "On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 005."

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    On Assimilating in Argentina, Point 003

    Point 003. Ignoring los piropos.
    el piropo
    : a flirtatious comment; an amorous compliment (word reference.com)

    But let's be honest. En realidad, a piropo has less the effect of a compliment and more the effect of what we name a catcall.

    Los piropos are very common in Buenos Aires, something to be expected, part of the culture. Kind-of in the way women expect similar attention from Italian men when in Italy. (And go figure, since Italian culture has seeped into Buenos Aires as well).

    The task for this Midwestern girl is either:
    a) Accept them gracefully, with a smile or a "gracias" - or -
    b) Ignore them and keep walking.

    So far, Option B has served me well. It also seems to be the option most BA natives choose.

    Here's to becoming more Argentinian every day!