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8 more random things you might not know about Argentina

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More of the low-down on Argentina that does not include all the usual tango, maté, soccer, gaucho, asado, plastic surgery, blah blah blah.

See the previous list here.

1) The portion of a woman's bum that is covered by 'normal' underwear is totally different here.

Thongs are still thongs, of course, and granny underwear and boxer shorts and that kind of thing are also exactly what they sound like. But normal, non-thong underwear - your typical bikini-style bottom - cuts the bum cheek at a different angle. Rather than the 20-25° angle common in my North American world, it is more like a 45-50° angle, making the front and the back of your panties be kind of hard to tell apart.

This style is not just for the young, or the cellulite-free. It is the standard. And I must say, though it reveals more, it is a more flattering look, generally giving a smoother, rounder appearance to your behind under pants, and avoiding that I-have-4-bum-cheeks problem. (I did mention I would be talking about random things).

2) The word 'turd' - as in, piece of poo - is actually used quite a bit, sprinkling (so to say) a number of expressions, and just an all around kind of useful word.

You might especially like to learn the phrase, están cayendo soretes de punta. This means that it 'is raining cats and dogs' or 'it is pouring / raining really hard', but it translates literally to 'turds are falling endwise' or 'vertical turds are falling'. Used by young and old alike. True story.

3) You can go to a shop and buy just one band-aid, one balloon, one candle, one aspirin, one diaper, one cigarette.  (Pretty much true all over Latin America, as far as I remember).

And it is generally not much more expensive per item than buying the whole package.*

It seems so strange, in fact, to buy a whole package of any of these things, unless you are in a larger scale supermarket or pharmacy, that I sometimes will ask for just a few, even though my intention had been to buy a package. I ask for birthday candles, for example, assuming they will give me the whole package (almost nothing is self-serve here, you have to ask for everything over the counter), and they ask me how many. Umm, give me four, I guess. 

* Eggs are also sold individually, but they pile them into a plastic bag here in Macondo, instead of wrapping them up in newspaper as I've seen in Buenos Aires and elsewhere. This creates the 'One Will Always Break' rule, which makes it more economical to buy a dozen, than to just buy two (losing 8% of your purchase as opposed to 50%).

4) They have the best system for helping a kid when she/he gets lost at the beach.

Seriously, check this out:

When a child gets lost at the beach, a tall man lifts him/her up onto his shoulders and starts to walk up and down the length of the beach. As they walk past, everybody (and I mean everybody) claps loudly, drawing attention to the pair, and allowing the parents or caregivers to quickly and easily find the child.

How did this get started, and how can it be imported everywhere? And why does it only happen at the beach? A kid gets lost in the mall here and people act as if they don't already have the Best System in the World for helping her/him get found.

5) Birthday parties for grown-ups involve the birthday boy/girl hosting family and friends at home and providing all food and drinks.

I may be just a grump, but I find this to be a hassle. I love a good dinner party and everything, but cleaning the house, doing a major grocery shop (spending lots of money) and then cooking for many is not my idea of a fun birthday. On the other hand, it's generally not a fancy thing (unlike birthday parties for kids). Homemade pizza seems to be a standard, which Macondo Papa has perfected to an art. Then there's salads, boring beer, fantastic wine, and the best ice-cream ever.

6) Ice cream places deliver.

Holy crap, is that not amazing? Not here in our little Macondo (the ice cream place is only open on Saturday night and part of Sunday), but they deliver in just about any urban centre, as far as I can tell, and definitely all over Buenos Aires.

7) The Olympics barely exist. The winter Olympics do not exist.

Who really cares? But I do miss watching figure skating.

8) Many perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, responsible for stealing babies, tossing people out of planes and disappearing 30,000 people are currently (still, finally) being tried for their crimes, and finally being given the life sentences with mandatory prison terms that decades of impunity had protected them from. 

This might be last on my list, but it is HUGE, in a historic, international justice, society-healing and collective memory-constructing kind of way.

Here's a good, recent article about it in English.

5 comments:

Amber said...

Delivery ice cream? That really IS amazing. I bet you I could bring it to Canada and make a fortune.

Flo said...

I know now that the expression which has been missing for me, which would aleviate so much frustration and truly encapsulates so much in my day-to-day life is "turds are falling endwise". This post has been life-changing (though yes, my life is rather small, but still).

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

YOu know when I was in Chile in the 90s, Pinochet was still in power. It was really interesting to be there while he was still around and hear what people said about him. There were families that I met that said they knew people who were disappeared. It's amazing how long it has taken for the beginnings of justice to happen in these situations.

And as far as the rest of the list....awesome!! Esp. the ice cream delivery and ability to buy diapers singly. Gotta love that!

macondo mama said...

Amber - I agree that delivery ice cream would go over really well in Canada.

Flo - I'm glad (and sorry) that the expression works for you. Argentina is full of great profanity...

Organic - It really is so fascinating and disturbing and unbelievable. Chile has been much more divided in their opinions about the dictatorship and Pinochet than Argentina, where a majority of the population condemns the dictators and their crimes. But the extent of impunity is so scarring, so damaging to society as a collective and to families and individuals.

Paula said...

Yes!
The delivery ice cream is awesome.
I was in Argentina 2 years ago, and i love it. I was staying in an furnished apartment in Buenos Aires. My friends there told me that almost every shop does delivery. So that night we order Mc donald's and yes, as you may guess, it was delivered to our house.

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