Blog 4: Culture and Markets

Curitiba Travel Blog

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Sundays in both Argentina and Brazil are very relaxing. Few stores are open and traffic is at a minimum. For most Sunday seems to be a day of rest. However, there is one unique and very busy activity in every city I have visited on Sundays in both of these countries. This event is the market. The market life is very interesting and an excellent place to find unique arts and crafts. Each of these markets has certain characteristics depending on if it is inside Argentina or Brazil. The Argentine markets are well known within Buenos Aires, particularly the market in Ricoletta. This market is a place of arts and crafts. Tourist as well as locals flocks to such a place. The vendors are composed of primarily country folk who come into the cities for the sole purpose of selling their crafts. In this respect, the Argentine market is similar to the market of Colonia, Uruguay. In the Ricoletta market, jugglers and musicians try and perform to the crowds. The Argentine market is a wonderful place to see and become more acquainted with its rural and artsy culture. The Brazilian markets are very different, or at least the market in the historical district of Curitiba. Curitiba is a city of much diversity. Immigrants for all around the world now reside in this very modern and one of a kind city. The Sunday market is full of brilliant colors and a mixture of items. Tourist and locals also flock to this type of market. However, the principle difference in this market than that of Ricoletta in Buenos Aires is the ethnicity of the actual vendors. Instead of being composed of rural citizens who are a primarily Brazilian background. These vendors are from all over the world, and they are proud to promote their many different heritages. Germans, Polish, Ukrainians, Russians, Japanese, and Arabs can be seen dancing and selling items that relate to their unique cultures. Many groups also sing and dance down the cobblestone streets. As I think about these two very different Sunday market atmospheres I begin to wonder why Argentina has a market composed of Argentine items and not items unique to their personal heritage? Maybe, it has to do with the goal in the early days of having a “white” country, or maybe the immigrants of Argentina have been there for a longer time and all share the same heritage. If this is the case then there would be no real need to act differently. Curitiba on the other hand has so many different backgrounds, some being recent, that possibly they want to share with the world there pride in such a heritage. Whatever the reason may be, I am truly fascinated by each of these markets.
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Argentina and Brazil are historically known as countries of diversity and unique beauty. Physical fitness, personal health, and pride in appearances are at the top of many people’s minds. After spending time in each country I have come to realize that this historical view has many truths. However, I also noticed a different approach among young people my age in achieving this level of personal “beauty”. Argentina seems to have a hard work ethic when it comes to daily workouts and personal shape. As a member of a local gym in Buenos Aires I saw a level of dedication and work ethic toward getting in shape that was completely unparallel to anything I’ve ever seen. Conversely, it is no secret that the Argentines love to smoke and eat Italian style pizzas and empanadas. These unhealthy aspects lead me to believe that Argentine has more of a reactive approach to obtaining that perfect shape. They seem to do what is necessary to compensate for unhealthy eating and partying. This can also be seen with their keen sense of wearing the most fashionable but covering clothes. Brazil on the other hand seems to have a much more preventative approach to physical beauty. Unlike Argentina, Brazil labels nutritional facts on all food products. They are able to see how many fats, calories, or nutrients are in the food they eat. The food as a whole seems to be healthier as well. Fruits and fresh vegetable can be ordered in many places as well as the popular and nutritional meal of rice and beans. Freshly squeezed juices and salads, in addition, dominate the menus and tables of many establishments. By being more preventative in nature, it is not as necessary for the Brazilians to work quite as hard in the gym. The young people also seem much more happy with themselves, and as a result wear much more revealing and tight clothing. After comparing these two countries obsessions with beauty and personal figure, I found myself looking deeper into the origins of such a contrast in the two countries’ styles of ensure such beauty. I do realize that my observation could be subjective only toward the cities in which I have visited; however, I feel that I have a valid observation. Argentina was predominately immigrated by Italians, and it still has a large Italian population today. This immigration could explain the thick and hearty foods in the everyday lives of the city of Buenos Aires. Throughout its history since the Great Depression, Argentina has also been very cynical and questioning toward any subject. They often would what until something had to be done instead of fixing it at the beginning as was the case with the crisis of 2002. Brazilians on the other hand where largely populated by a mixture of cultures, and they mixed races until they now have a large mixed population. This mixture of people has lead to a unique beauty that can only be paralleled by the beautiful landscapes in its countryside. Brazil has always been proud of its natural beauty and has done many things to preserve it like the young people have done to try and preserve those perfect figures. Although, Argentina and Brazil are similar in location and pride in physical beauty, I am fascinated by their two very different ways of preserving such a beauty.
Curitiba
photo by: joesu