This is a continuation of the recap of my 3 week experience in Argentina and Chile. Click here for part 1 of this post.
- Mayo: both Argentineans and Chileans love their mayo – it’s on everything
- Pebre: this is essentially home-made salsa with the freshest ingredients – tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, lime, jalapenos – served with bread at pretty much every restaurant
- Chimichurri: as I mentioned earlier, since Argentineans don’t like spicy food, this is as close to picante that I got. It’s a marinade made with parsley, minced garlic, vegetable oil or olive oil, white or red vinegar, and red pepper flakes. I had it with a pizza at a restaurant in Palermo called “Kentucky” – amazing!
#8: The Work/Life Schedule: Argentineans are sleep deprived. They usually start work around 9 until noon; go home for lunch and siesta for about 4 hours; then return back to work for another 5 hours. I would be so unproductive if I worked this schedule. With a work day ending so late, it’s no wonder no one has dinner till about 10. The party-goers, sometimes even on weekdays, then begin hitting the bars at 1:30 or later and party till 5am. Talk about carpe diem.
#9: Generosity and hospitality:
It’s amazing the hospitality and overall kindness that I experienced on two occasions during this trip. In Santiago, a friend and I were having lunch and the couple sitting next to us went out of their way to suggest dishes we should try and gives my Venezuelan friend their home address so that they can cook him a traditional Chilean meal.
In the second instance, I met Ornela, who’s a stunning Italian/Argentinean guide for the wine tour I did in Mendoza. I coincidentally saw her the day after the tour and she invited me to an asado (grilled meat party) with her friends when she found out that I was going to have dinner by myself. We crammed 6 people into her tiny Subaru and went to a friend’s place 45 minutes away. I met a whole bunch of locals and expats and had an amazing time trying all cuts of beef and pork and drinking my first fernet and coke. Dinner at 10 pm, conversations till 4:30 am. That’s hospitality!
#10: Obsession with futbol: my experience at the Boca Juniors home game against Colon was by far the craziest sporting event I’ve ever attended. Unbelievable energy, chats and songs by the fans, and young and old alike swearing at the opposing team – amazing!
#11: Buses and coins: you need coins to take the bus. No change, no bus for you. Apparently there’s a shortage in coins being minted, so Portenos hoard their coins – don’t bother asking for change, you will get a “no es posible”.
#12: ATMs: I left my credit card at a restaurant and had to deal with ATMs for the rest of my trip. Argentina is a cash society. It’s common that ATMs run out of cash on weekends and at the end of the month. Makes for interesting budgeting.
#13: 20k, 1 year of travel: I met quite a few backpackers at the hostels that were truly getting to experience all of South America. Many of them were in their early to mid 20s, just out of university but some had been working for years and decided to take a year off for adventure. With the availability of cheap meals in South America and lodging at hostels for typically less than $10 a day, you can get by with $50-60 a day. So if have $20k burning a hole in your pocket and want to travel for a year, check out South America!
I loved planning this trip. It worked out beautifully to take in 2 big cities, hiking and the outdoors in Patagonia, and wine tasting galore in Mendoza. I met great people, tasted great food, experienced the kind of hospitality you only read about and will most definitely return to South America. I think Columbia, Peru and Brazil are next on the list.