In Chile, and especially in Patagonia, you may discover quite typical settlements, which strongly differ from Argentinian ones. In fact, although Chilean currency is fairly strong, all the houses built there are quite modest. Most of them are made of corrugated iron and Alerces wood (quite water resistant). Moreover, they're many coloured, ranging from green to red, with yellow, pink and blue patches. People will say in Chile that they paint their home with so bright colours to alleviate the hard winters there, and make them merrier. You'll be able to watch "Palafitos" which are houses on piles, only accessible by sea because of the high tides there. Such kind of housing has been discontinued on account of the current problem of public - free - access to the beaches. You may watch the most typicaland easy to reach palafitos on Chiloe Island, near Castro, the capital. This island is also famous not only for its many coloured houses, but for its wooden churches. Sixteen among them have been classified in the UNESCO Human Patrimony...
It is as well quite an important place as regards fishing industry. Fishing and Cargo boats are being built there. In the fish farms, salmon and other king of fish breeding has been developing apace. Chiloe is the main island of the archipelago, surrounded by many smaller mainly inhabited islands...
Lost at the end of one adjacent path to the Carretera Austral (Southern Route...) Colete Tortel ranks as the most typical place where palafitos can be watched...
In my opinion, La Boca is the most popular district in Buenos Aires. It's a disadvantaged subburb, where numerous people of Italian or Spanish origin have been living for a long time. To day it has become quite a rather trendy spot, praised by tourists. They'd flock together to watch and admire the coloured house fronts, and share the boisterous way of life prevailing there. La Boca is also worldwide famous for its local football team: the Atheltico Boca juniors club, which plays in its equally famous stadium "la Bombonera".
This is quite a good opportunity to entertain you with the passion shared by all Argentineans people: i.e. football and of course Diego Maradona.
Sure you'll be quite surprised to encounter so many TV sets in bar rooms, restaurants, where football matches are broadcast. To my mind, Argentina is the most football addicted people in the World. It's quite impressive, really. Of course Diego Armando Maradona is the universally worshipped icon. Born on October 30th 1960 in Buenos Aires; nicknamed "el pibe de oro" (the golden foot); Pelusa, Dieguito or even the Master; he is considered as the best football player of all times.
The first image you'll get of Argentina is Buenos Aires, its capital. Let's deal now with a few figures and customs linked with the City history:
There's no discociating Tango and Buenos Aires.
Argentinians are right to be proud to practice and master no doubt the most complex dance in the World. Tango is a culture. Obviously to sum it up to mere music and dance would be quite unfair. Argentineans would keep saying that dance mainly enhances woman's feminity and sensuousness. The woman only takes advantage of her partner's guiding and of the various pauses to express her fantasy and her character.
Sure you'll live a great moment when attending a "milonga" (tango dancing session) in Buenos Aires. Do grasp such an opportunity! And sure you'll feel ilke - as I did - learning to dance the tango. But beware! It's quite hard!
Among the most famous tango composers, let's quote Astor Piazzola, Osvaldo Pugliese, Anibal Troilo, and of course Carlos Gardel.
Carlos Gardel ranks as the most famous tango singer. The place where, and the date when, he was born have been the subject of a harsh debate, triggered by three equally proud nations claiming paternity. He is supposed to be born either in Toulouse in France on December 11th 1890, or in Tacuarembo in Uruguay on December 11th 1887.
According to the first theory, Carlos Gardel would be born in France, in Toulouse. He'd pretended to be Urugayen to avoid problems when having tango rounds in Europe, and especially in France (as a Frenchman, he should have been mobilized during WWI, and liable to be sued for desertion as he'd not joined the army...)
Acording to the opposed theory, Gardel would be actually born in Uruguay, as mentioned on his papers. His would be French origin would come from his will, forged to enable Berthe Gardes (1865-1943) his step mother to inherit, after his brutal and unexpected death. Be that as it may, Carlos Gardel's voice has been classified in UNESCO Human patrimony, in which the artist is officially presented as "a French Argentinian singer born in France". To put a definite end to such controversy, many voices in Uruguay have kept asking for DNA tests to be achieved. Vainly so far.
On Monday June 24th 1935, Carlos Gardel died in a plane crash near Medellin, in Colombia. He was at the apex of his artistic glory. Therefore never would he see again his beloved Buenos Aires. One of his greatest hits, Volver, (in English Returning) testified such henceforth impossible coming back. His body was carried back to Argentina by ship, his favourite way of transport. He lies in the Chacarita Cemetary in Buenos Aires...
You must attend a "Peña" in Argentina. The Peña is quite a popular place where you'll be able to listen to folklore. Sometimes with one or two musicians, sometimes more. Quite often musicians and the audience are as one. Quite often the tunes played there are "samba" and "chacarera".
Soon the musicians reach a sort of rhythmical frenzy, shouting "arriba las Palmas" ("clap your hands!"), and for sure you'll behold everybody clapping hands. Obviously the Peña peculiar atmosphere in not to be missed.
Sometimes, the music will stop abruptly, one of the musicians shouting: "Aro, aro, aro!!!" When you can hear that, the moment has come to crack a little joke.
But mind you! These jokes are quite special ones. Slightly dirty, quite often overtly manly, it's a hard time for the mother in laws, whose characters are seldom spared. Quite often, when thinking that joking time is over, one of the musicians will put an end to it, shouting anew "Aro!" Then music will prevail again, with sodden laughters in the background. Of course, there's beer flowing galore, until the peak of the next day. The most intersting peñas can be encountered - and enjoyed - in the North Wertern part of Argentina and in Patagonia as well.
There you'll be able to grasp the opportunity to discover and eat one of Argentinian and Chilean specialities: the empanadas.
The empanadas are some sort of little pies stuffed with fish meat, eggs, potatoe, or any other ingredients. As part of traditional Iberian cooking heritage, you may have them served almost anywhere in Southern America, with slight differences. The word itself comes from the Spanish verb "empanar", which means "to stuff" or cover with bread. They were traditionally made with dough, but flaky pastry is also currently used. They can be served hot, as starters, but quite often they will be served throughout the whole meal.
In Argentina, their edges are festooned. They are stuffed with minced meat, raisins, cheese, vegetables, tuna, olive, seasoned with pepper and cumin. They can be bought by dozens or half dozens.
In Chile, there's a special empanada, slightly different from its Argentinian counterpart. It is made of much more dough, stuffed inside with meat and onions, one quarter boiled egg, olives and raisins baked in the oven. But it can be fried as well (with a slightly different pastry recipe). There is also a different recipe with grated cheese.
There are many other sorts of empanadas with sea food (mandatory during the Holy Week), vegetables, pear or apple jam, or even fresh apples (in the Southern districts), but as a rule, empanadas are consumed with plenty of cheese, and quite often made with flaky pastry.
The myth of the Gaucho is intimately linked with Argentina, especially with the Pampa (i.e the Great Plains in the Western and Northern parts of the country.) As the Southern hemisphere counterpart of the American cow boy figure, he epitomizes freedom and extensive territories...
Patagonia in all seasons menu. For example, according to the climate, from Bariloche, in Patagonia Argentina, it is possible to go to Puerto Montt, in Chile, crossing successively three lakes by boat, as did the Jesuits and the first German settlers. I offer a tour that leads to the Pacific Ocean. It is quite long, but the beauty of the sites - forests, volcanoes and crystalline lakes - is such that it is worth to be carried. The Argentine side, cross the west arm of Nahuel Huapi and Lake Puerto Alegre and, the chilen side, Lake Todos los Santos. Moving from one lake to another by bus. This tour is feasible in all seasons, but in winter, it takes two days to reach Puerto Montt, stopping for one night at Peulla. We returned to Bariloche by air or by the same way, after a night in Puerto Montt. Borispatagonia is also responsible for visas to go to Chile and to book hotels. In Patagonia, winter and summer are tourist seasons. In summer, besides explore the surrounding, many activities are available: climbing, torrent fishing, sailing, horseback riding, hiking, rides, visits to Aciendas... In winter, the main activity is, of course, skiing, especially in July and August on the side of the Andes, but not only: snowshoe hikes, thematic tours, many walks to admire the beauty of Patagonia Argentina and Chile in this season, due a unique light, the warmth of the people of Patagonia... Just to talk about, I get goose bumps!