(Blog 4) US and Argentina = Fast and Slow
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Buenos Aires is in my opinion a "city of cafes." In fact around every corner lies a café. I have already in a previous blog discussed the very unique and wonderful atmosphere associtated with these cafes, but now I would like to take the slow paced and laid back atmosphere and apply in to the everyday life of an Argentine.
Whether you are ordering food, going to the post office or bank, or just doing anything is general within the city of Buenos Aires, you will notice one thing. Everything takes alot of time. Eating at most restaraunts is almost a full day event, and waiting in line at the post office or bank fills the rest of your day. This slowness, however, does not seem to affect the citizens of Buenos Aires. For the most part they remain calm and act as if there is no such thing as being in a hurry. Compare this to the United States. Sitting in a restaraunt for an extended period of time without receiving food or service will result in yelling, screaming, and dirty looks. Long lines in banks or post offices equal pure hell for all. This notion of fast service and running out of time can also be seen by fast food chains in the United States and people everywhere walking around or driving with their "to go" cups and so on. That does not exist here. It is very rare to anyone pitching a fit or eating lunch while walking or driving. Argentines seem to have less stress day to day, and I believe that it is largely influenced by the laid back attitude of its citizens.
I think that the United States could learn from Argentina on this subject. Everyone just needs to slow down and relax. Stress is too tight in the United States and I see this fixation with time and time constraints a key factor toward that stress level. However, at the same time Argentina could learn from the United States on how to be a little more efficient with managing service and long lines. The bottom line is that these two countries have a different look on everyday life and could benefit from oberserving each other. If there is a happy medium between the two then that is where I would like to live.
In one of my first blogs, I discussed the mysterious drink of mate. I also talked about how mate was very important to the cultural and social lives of teens and young adults. Well last weekend in Colonia, Uruguay I made a very interesting discovery and saw a different side to mate.
Walking the streets of Buenos Aires, it is rare to see a group of people sitting around and enjoying mate. This act is usually done in the private of one’s home. It is also common for the teens in Argentina to share and partake in consumption of mate together as one group. However, in Colonia the attitude toward mate seemed very different. Walking done the many cobblestone streets it was very common to see people everywhere sipping on their own indivisual cup of mate. It seems to me in Uruguay that mate is more like coffee in the United States. Grap it on the run. This brings up an interesting question. Is mate in Uruguay an indivisual thing or is it still connected to the social bonding and reflection? I do not yet know enough about this subject to completely answer this question based on my observations I would think that mate in Uruguay is simply an indivisual affair. When I was thinking about this topic, an interesting thought came into my mind. It is very strange that two countries located so close to each other would have a completely differnent outlook on this mysterious drink, especially since the two countries have a history of working together and sharing ideas with one another. Even the mate cups in Uruguay are of a different shape and structure than those of Argentina. In addition it is rare to see anyone walking the streets with any food or drink let alone mate in Buenos Aires. Uruguay, however, has a variety of beverages and mate roaming the streets. This leads me to believe that the difference does not solely lie in the hands of mate, but maybe it is just a different lifestyle. Either way mate and these two countries still continue to baffle my mind, even after a month.
When walking the streets, flipping through the television, or listening to music on the radio there is one particular observation that anyone from the United States should be able to make. This observation is uncensored television, magazines, as well as music. The little news stands on the sidewalks are full of adult magazines that are not covered to hide the nudity on the cover either. When riding in a taxi it is not uncommon to hear familiar sounds from the United States on the radio. The difference is that these songs in the United States are censored by the FCC, but here in Buenos Aires they are freely aired. Even watching movies on Fox here in Argentina, shows uncensored movies (both language and nudity) on the general cable.
I started thinking about why this difference exists. Is it that Argentina is sexually and freely liberated or is it that the United States is stricter and more sensitive to such issues that the rest of the world? The sexual liberation began in Argentina in the mid-1900s. Most came about with the massive immigration as well as the attempted industrializaiton under the ISI program. Many people moved into the city of Buenos Aires and it became more and more casual with its social scene. But this movement does not necessarily differentiate Argentina from the rest of the world. Many other countries are free in showing such uncensored television and radio. This leads me to believe that Argentina is not unique, but the United States is unique in its policies. Why is the US so different in matters concerning nudity and fowl language? It could have possibly stemmed from the countries first settlers and their beliefs. The Puritan pilgrims were very strict and religious, and the country has founded with the basis of Christinity. Whereas Latin America countries such as Argentina, as well as other countries around the world, were founded for the sole purpose of making money and creating a new place to live. I think this issue is a very interesting topic to further look into and discuss in the future.
Now that the World Cup has arrived, the excitement and anticipation of Argentina is at a height. The Argentines of course want their team to win, but the attitude of the fans seems to be one of pessimism. Gabriel mentioned the other day in one of our class on wheels sessions that watching Argentina play in the World Cup was painful and nerve racking. He also made the comment that Brazilians watched the World Cup with much excitement and in a party atmosphere. These Brazilians unlike Argenitines expect victory. In other the question is why is this attitude such in Argentina?
I started to think about the Argentines in general and have developed my own theory as to why Argentines take the World Cup so seriously and always fearing the worst, defeat. I believe that this attitude stems from much more than just soccer. Over the past 50 years Argentina has been on a rollercoster ride. The economy, social life, and government institutions have both boomed and busted. The economy was promising at several points throughout Argentina’s history, and Argentines had much hope through those years. However, the economy went through many crisises and the country went into panic. The social and political structures within the country have also followed this pattern. Military coups ended presidential resimes. Democracy is only a thing know over the past 20 years. By looking at the recent Argentine history it is easy to see where this negative outlook and fear of defeat stems.
Argentines have been given a false since of excitement whether in economic matters, political institutions, or the 1994 ejection of Merodona in the World Cup. Therefore, I believe that the citizens of Argentina fear the disappointment that fills their past, so they tend to think of the worst when it comes to the World Cup. By expecting the worst, they have something to be excited about when they do better than expected. I could be wrong in my theory, but what else would explain such a different outlook on the World Cup from to two neighboring countries of Argentina and Brazil.