(Blog 3) Cafes Everywhere

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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When exporing the city of Buenos Aires, anyone will notice an aboundance of little cafes. In fact it seems as though there is a cafe on every corner. These cafes intrigue me in several ways. First, they have the most delicious coffee and patries. I think it may be among some of th ebest in the world. I also believe that I will never buy Starbuck's coffee ever again.

I am also intrigued by the atmosphere inside the cafe itself. Most cafes have many windows so that you can sit and observe passerbys.The tables are arranged in a way that almost forces the customers to look at and observe each other. In the United States, we seem to worry with time and focus on getting in and out of th store in minimal time. We also have the tendency to igmore those around us. However, in the city of Buenos Aires, cafes are set up with the purpose of taking your time, enjoying the delicious coffee, and consersing or just observing those around you. I throughly enjoy this atmosphere. it is a joy to sit and watch complete strangers discuss the news or carry on general conversations with one another. In fact the other day, I was sitting in a cafe and had a very intersting converation about one of the readings I was doing there for call. I think that it is very encouraging and relaxing for locals to enjoy the splendid environment of the cafes as well as an opportunity to make connectins or reflect the day. I only wish that this concept of sitting, relaxing, and engaging in friendly intelligent conversations with those around me will become a part of the United States culture as well.

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Yesterday, I was talking to a couple of local Argentines at a cozy, little cafe. Somehow or converstion jumped to the general feeling towards the United States for most of the Argentine citizens. One person said that Argentina has a love-hate relationship as well as a relationship full of resentment toward the United States. He said that United States influence has been good in bringin gin some products, movies, and music. At the same time however, he does not trust the United States in anyway. he feels betrayed by its power and feels that it is only trying to use countries to its advantage rather than help them.

Last night, I started to think about what was said, and I hovestly can see where this feeling of resentment is coming from. Imagine a country that brought in such "great products" as Coca-cola, Marlboro, movies, music, and many other products. Argientines ahve incorporated these products into their everyday life and accepted them. Next, the United States was looked up to and was a goal of Argentina to be like the United States. this view of the United States was particularly prevelant during the Menem years or during the 1990s. Menem as well as Argentina saw the United States as a powerhouse and they attempted to be "friends" with the "big guy." Argentina worked out relations, followed the advise of the United States, became an "associate" member of NATO, and even fixed its currency to the dollar. During this period the United States was favored by most of the Argentine people, however things world change. In the late 1990s and early 2000s the economy of Argentina crashed. The entire country was in crisis and foreign deby skyrocketed. What did the United States do to help in the eyes of Argentines? Nothing!!! Moathing but mislead a country and reap benefits from its collapse. On top of this Argentina is a country aware of human rights an dpolitical activism, and this country is definitely not happy with the war in Iraq. The United States has a long way to go in order to make pece with the Argentines. Whether it will ever happen is a mystery, but as of now it is very unfortunate that such a relationship exist. The question is...can you blame them?

Argentina has traditionally been a country that can not agree on anything. Every decision, belief, or plan of action is polarized among different groups. Take for example, the Peronist Party, the Mothers of the Plaza, or Baca versus River. There seems to be zero agreement on anythi g exept for the upcoming World Cup.

I have noticed that within the past few weeks a strong sense of nationalism and pride for Argentina and its team. The streets are full  of vendors trying to sell Argenine flags, banners, apparel, jerseys, and other memorabillia. The talk of the city of Buenos Aires is World Cup, World Cup, World Cup. Radio, television, and newspapers are set on advertising and making predictions about the games soon to arrive. Even the postal stamps are cartoon depictions of Argentine national players playing soccer.

The impact of soccer with this country is truly amazing. The fact that one single tournament can bring together an entire nation that is traditionally polarized intrigues me. Last weekend in Mendoza, which is on the complete opposite side of the country, I had a waiter at a restaurant who as we left ran outside to yell and sing for the Argentine team. Just think an entire country united by a tournament nearly ten days away. the impact of the World Cup si not new to Argentina as a country. In fact in the 1970s when the World Cup was held in Buenos Aires, both the mikitary dictatorship as well as the protesting mothers used this event in order to support their own efforts. The military of course used it to bring the nation together and "show off". Whereas the mothers used it to gain media coverage and support. No event exist in the United States, which has such a grand impact on not one but all of its citzens, and ,boy, is it a shame!!