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Argentina local culture - traditional gaucho

A day in the life of the Argentinians

With Argentina Travel Plan you’ll travel the way we ourselves like to travel: discovering a new country and immersing yourself in the local way of life. It’s about experiencing local culture, and who better to teach us about the local culture than the Argentinians themselves? When we’re travelling in a new country, learning about the culture and values of the people you meet can be an enlightening experience.

In Puerto Madryn we met 35-year old local guide Julio Pérez. Like many Argentinians, family plays an important role in his daily life. Julio lives on the outskirts of Puerto Madryn with his wife, son and daughter. When we were in Puerto Madryn we noticed quite a lot of stray dogs on the streets. Julio explained to us that these aren’t stray dogs, but actually people’s pets. Argentinians love dogs, but they don’t take them for walks, instead they just leave them out on the street during the day. Julio and his wife both work full days, and in the tourist season they’re extra busy. Children go to school for half a day each day, so in Argentina it’s common for another family member to look after the kids while the parents are still at work. Besides his job as a tourist guide, Julio has a flexible schedule so every day is different in the Peréz household. Friends are always welcome and guests are always expected to stay for dinner.

Julio is particularly busy during the whale migration season. Puerto Madryn is the largest town close to the Peninsula Valdes and the place is teeming with tourists who come here to see the whales and other wildlife.

Tea or wine?

In Argentina food won’t be served until very late in the evening giving plenty of time to chat and laugh over a couple of glasses of Malbec. Even though the wine is poured generously, drinking too much is a no-no for Argentinians. Julio told us all about the best Argentinian wines from Mendoza. Because it the mild climate it’s the ideal place for growing Malbec. You can see more of the area and do your own wine-tasting with our Mendoza trip.

When friends get together they’ll drink a cup of mate, Argentina’s version of the British cuppa. Maté is a lot more bitter than the tea we’re used to. Drinking mate is more of a social ritual and often involves sharing one cup (mate is served in a tin cup with a metal straw). A common expression in Argentina is “let’s drink a cup of mate”, which pretty much means “let’s have a chat”.

Argentina is the 7th largest country in the world, so inevitably there are large cultural differences between say the cosmopolitan Porteño (Buenos Aires) and the gaucho on the pampas. Although the gaucho culture isn’t as widespread as it once was, you can still experience the traditional rural life on the estancia (working ranch) with our Argentina gaucho trip.

Argentina local culture - maté time
Argentina local culture - barbecue Argentinian style

Learning about local culture

When you’re travelling to a new destination you’ll also experience different sights, smells and sounds. It’s what enriches your travel experience and sensitivity to the local customs will certainly help you engage with the local people. For example, while we in the UK expect people to show up on time, in Argentina you should never be in a hurry. In fact, being late is considered more polite.

It is said that Argentina has more cattle than people and the highest consumption of beef per capita, so there’s no shortage of juicy steaks. For dessert try the dulce de leche; a type of thickened condensed milk. It's common to have a large meal at lunch time, and the restaurants start to fill up around 9pm.

Tango passion

Argentina has literally hundreds of folk festivals, from the gaucho festival to the Indian harvest festivals and wine and food festivals introduced by the European settlers. But no matter how diverse the cultural origin, all these festivals have one thing in common; the asado, or barbecue. A predominantly Catholic country because of the European settlers, Argentina also has plenty of religious celebrations, so chances are you’ll bump into a procession or observance somewhere on your travels.

One third of the population lives in greater Buenos Aires, home to Argentina’s most popular export besides beef and football; tango. Originating in the slums and brothels of Buenos Aires, the tango gradually gained standing among the upper classes. These days tango is performed across all social layers. Tango expresses the words of the people through music and sometimes song, telling the melancholy stories of everyday trouble and strife. The working-class immigrant district La Boca in Buenos Aires is considered the birthplace of the tango. On our Buenos Aires sightseeing trip you can explore the different districts of Buenos Aires and see the authentic tango tradition in the milongas (ballrooms).
Argentina local culture - tango in Buenos Aires

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