The Argentinian women... Are they really the most beautiful women in the World? Is it mere fantasy for some, myth, or hard to suffer reality for others? Argentinian folks think there's no doubt about it. But beware! Because they are quite proud, and you'd better qualifying their statements... and making up your own mind. Beautiful and smiling... Males in Argentina are endowed with an innate practice of the Art of "piropo" (compliment). Don't try to ape them; sure you'd be utterly ridiculous! But tell me, what does that "piropo" consist of? Practiced by Southern Americans, this peculiar art of seduction is more akin to romanticism and light hearted gallantry than sheer attempt at picking up. The Argentinians and especially the "porteños" (Buenos Aires residents) would revel in paying compliments (often loudly) to any attractive woman they come across in the street. And there again, just beware! There's always a pun, a compliment, a nice metaphor which will be quite effective even on the most impervious females. Most of them would answer with half a smile, which will entice the would be pretender into further piropos. Men in Argentina love that game of seduction and sure women actually take some pleasure in such innocent courting, So much so as they dress and behave to set off their figures, which is quite a delicious treat to everyone...
Argentineans and especially Buenos Aires residents (Porteños) lack social and political landmarks. Undoubtedly overwhelmed by their nearly "European" status, (i.e as the Latin American people closest to Europeans) they try to ape or even anticipate the trends of the "old" continent, instead of taking over their vernacular culture and customs, which I personally deem so strong and endearing. Of course, this is mainly the case of the "Porteños", about whom some funny phrases keep going around. Let's quote my favourite one: "Argentinians? Eh! Those Italian folks who speak Spanish and dream of being British!"
Mate is the most popular drink in Argentina. You'll be able to see many people drink it, many more in Uruguay, Paraguay, but a little less in Chile. Mate is not really a drink as such. Why? It's just because no one in Argentina would drink mate to quench one's thirst. This is a true habit, a ritual. Just the reverse of TV: if you happen to be with someone, it'll allow you to have a true conversation, but if you're alone it favours meditation. When you pay a visit to someone in Argentina, the first uttered phrase will be "Hola!" (Hello!), but the second one will be "Unos mates?" (Will you have some mate?)
Such a ritual would take place in every Argentinian family. It encompasses the wealthy and the poor, young and old people. Mate is the only thing fathers and sons can share without arguing or splitting. The purest Peronist can drink mate together with the sheerest Radical without exchanging challenging looks.
Drinking mate requires four essential components: the mate, which is the vessel, also named "calbaza". There are many possible sizes and shapes, more or less decorative. Then the herb "mate" (yerba mate). There are many possible brands, but all of them come from the same fields in the Missiones District, in the Northern part of the country. Then the "bombilla", which is a sort of metallic straw through which you sip the mate. Lastly the "Pava" (the kettle) or "termo" (thermos flask) which keeps water close to its boiling point. There's always a "cevador" (server) who prepares and serves the mate. When you don't want any more mate, you just have to say "gracias" (thank you...).
Children are given mate when they ask for it. It will be rather served tepid, over sweetened to alleviate any bitterness, and with milk instead of water. Drinking mate will give boys and girls a feeling of man or womanhood. Every father and mother will be quite proud to behold their offspring take their mate.
Then, as time passes, the same children now become adults will choose to drink mate bitter or sweetened, very hot or cold (terere), with for instance an orange peel or a lemon juice.
When two people have mate together for the first time, in order to avoid any disappointment, the "cevador" (who quite often is also the host), will ask "Dulce o amargo?" (Sweet or bitter?), and the guest will no doubt answer: "come tome vos" (the same as you have it).
The "yerba" (herb) is the only thing you are sure to find in an Argentinian's home. In a drawer or on a shelf. Always! In case of occasional shortage, sure a neighbour will have and provide for some.
Argentina, (but Uruguay as well) is the only country in the world where becoming a man (an adult) is living quite a special experience. It's quite different from leaving home to study in a University, or being separated from one's parents, or displaying personal - different - clothing. In this country, children will become adults when they feel like drinking their own mate. All by themselves. It's not mere chance: the day when the youngster put the pava on the stove and prepare his own mate, without anyone being present, there, for long long minutes sure he'll dicover his own soul. On that special moment, he will discover quite strong feelings. There is exemplified the art of mate, and the part it will play as far as human relationships are concerned.
The mate ritual demonstrates its fine values. It's leniency to suffer tasteless mares (lavados), for the sake of the conversation, which is good, interesting. (Of course the conversation, not the mate...)
It's being respectful for such nice moments spent chatting ans listening. You speak while your partner serves the mate, and vice versa...
It's being plainly sincere when saying; "hey, it's time changing the herb!", because mate is utterly tasteless...
It's being kind enough to ask in a rather stupid way: "Isn't it hot?"
It's being modest enough to acknowledge who serves the best mate...
It's generosity, to give everything
It's hospitality, invitation.
It's being required to say "gracias" (thank you) at least once in a day.
It's really an ethic, a straightforward and trustful attitude which allows you to meet other people with no other concern than merely sharing a mate...
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!