Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bitcoin in Buenos Aires: La BITconf

La BitConf was a conference held the first weekend of November in the center of Buenos Aires concerning Bitcoin (BTC) and the crypto currency. Several influential speakers who are key players in the development and progression of this new, revolutionary currency presented their new advances with BTC, security around it, side-chains to increase its usability, and other crypto currencies such as Dash and Zcash.
            If you do not know what exactly BTC is or what it is all about, you are not in the minority. BTC is a decentralized currency that is not represented by any central bank but rather a system of verification and connection between all users who use BTC. It can be used completely anonymously as there is no registration for it, and many businesses are starting to accept payments in BTC such as Steam, Expedia, Microsoft, and even Tesla. It is a relatively volatile currency, having traded at over $1,200 in 2013 to go down to 500 days later. It has been on a steady rise since then and is currently trading at over 740 at the time of this article (17/11).

            The conference featured an international mix of people. Attendees came from diverse backgrounds. Several presenters represented their companies from Argentina and many more from the United States, China, Peru, and Brazil to name a few. Diego Zaldivar, the founder of Roostock, was a big presence with their new technology seeking to add to the usability of BTC as a smart contract as Etherium has achieved. There were many attendees who were present to network with other influential members of the BTC community such as Alejandro de la Torre who came from Amsterdam to represent his company,, a Bitcoin wallet and news center. As the conference unfolded, it became apparent that although BTC is an international currency that is almost entirely decentralized among the world, it still consists of a tight knit community of players.

This tech savy group of economists is an odd mix between geek and banker. Several presenters were the founders of multi-million dollar companies, yet they had the presentation skills of a nervous teenager. Almost everyone had a galaxy s7 or and iphone 6 on the go, and it was not uncommon to see people on their laptops in the middle of a presentation. The stereotypical programmer with poor hygiene was well represented as was the classic banker with a suit, tie, and slicked hair. This juxtaposition of cultures highlighted itself more with the venue, an old tango theatre located in a basement of a gallery on Florida street. Tango, an old pastime of Argentina mixed together with a new, revolutionary technology that aims to completely change commerce across the world.
Resultado de imagen para bitcoin miningThis mix of old and new, money and technology, culture and progression fits in quite well with Argentina as it is one of the most prominent countries in South America in the BTC world yet also one of the most plagued by corruption and economic slugishness. Since the election of Macri, there has been an explosion of BTC activity in Argentina, from tech companies such as Rootstock to bitcoin ´miners´ that produce Bitcoins. This rise in something new, progressive, and revolutionary in anything related to economics is not exactly characteristic of Argentina, but it could be a great source of financial success for tech savy people looking for jobs and bring futures.

After the first day at the conference it seemed that Argentina could become a powerful player in Bitcoin and potentially draw in other technological advances to help it get a step ahead of the global competition. But being Argentina, progress does not come without a fight. After leaving the conference and walking out onto the street, there was a protest of people marching through Avenida de Mayo to protest the new government and some of the new changes that have been made to make the country more appealing to investors. A great impression to leave for the international people seeing Argentina for the first time. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Buenos Aires Skyline: Views from above

Here are just a few photos from the past few months of rooftops and planes here in Buenos Aires.
The skyline in Buenos Aires is a truly unique thing to see. Like many cities, the skyline has a different feel depending on the neighborhood. The thing about BA is that it goes on and on in an endless sea of concrete.
Sometimes a rooftop offers a cozy getaway in the middle of the pandemonium. Palermo Holywood has some of the more relaxing terraces in the city.

Above: Caballito at nighttime

Below: a view of the Microcentro neighborhood from San Telmo. You may not be able to tell, but this is the most congested area in the city.

Coming in to BA from above give you a glimpse of the millions of lives living together in chaotic harmony.

Above: Monseratt
Below: Chacaritas

If you want to find a relaxing spot in Buenos Aires, check our hostels out!

Charlies Hostel BA

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How to Ride a Bike in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is not too hard of a city to get around in, but all too often the public transit gets crowded, and you find yourself up close and personal with all 8 million of its inhabitants who are moving around the city at 5 in the afternoon. The best way to avoid all that traffic is with your own means of propulsion. Traveling by car will take forever because of the narrow streets with few lanes and all of the stoplights. A motorcycle is efficient, but not everyone has a moto license and the money to rent/buy one. The bicycle is the most economic and time-efficient way to get around the city. With several options for rent, lots of deals on used bikes in shops all around town, and government sponsored bike stations, Buenos Aires is slowly becoming a bike haven.

Many people talk trash about biking down town, saying it is dangerous, that all the drivers are out to kill pedestrians and bikers, and that it is a slow way to get around town. Biking can be dangerous if you do not know how to ride a bike, but it is by far faster than a car or subway, and the motorists are rather tame as long as you make yourself present and are willing to share the road.

If you do not know how to ride a bike or do not feel comfortable with riding in a high traffic area, do not worry, there are still some options for you! Plaza Holanda is a park located in Palermo that is a pedestrian paradise with a big circular path and road that is just under 2 kilometers. It features a pedestrians and bikes only side and a road with very little traffic just outside. They rent bikes here, so this could be a great place to try your skills out or get them tuned in to go hit the streets.

From Plaza Holanda, you can get on one of several bike paths (¨Bicisenda¨) that stretch out into all directions of the city. These bicisendas are a safe way to get just about anywhere in town without having to worry about getting hit by an oblivious taxi driver. Scattered along these bike baths are stations for renting bikes at no cost. For more information about how to get a bike and maps of all the bike lanes, check out this link from the city government.

If you do decide to get off the bike lanes and into the streets, here are a few pointers to stay safe and get around quicker.

1 Wear a helmet. Even if you stay on the bike lanes, you should definitely use a brain bucket. 

Keep your head on the swivel. Always know your surroundings and be aware that buses have huge blind spots and are most likely presuming that you are going to yield to them and not the other way around. Pedestrians and motorcycles crossing during stop and go traffic can come unexpectedly. If you are passing by all the cars stuck in stop and go traffic, don´t let your guard down, maybe it´s too good to be true.

3 Make yourself present and be confident. If you feel confidant and present, you will be more likely to be noticed and respected by other motorists. Here in Buenos Aires everyone is pretty good about respecting each other on the streets.... except for the taxi drivers, watch out for them. They are less likely to notice you and less likely to yield any space. Also, they cross the road much slower than other cars because they are looking for fairs.

4 Try to get on a one-way road, and go to the left. If you are on a bigger avenue, the left lane is generally for people on motorcycles and bicyclists. 9 de Julio is an exception. Try to stay on the right there. It can be more intimidating to stray away from the bike paths, but you can get around the town much faster. Corrientes goes from the Palermo area to the city center, and Córdoba goes the opposite direction from the center westward. 9 de Julio goes north/south in the downtown area, but it can be somewhat congested during peak traffic hours. Going to a street parallel to 9 de Julio during peak hours will be a small sacrifice in time for a big increase in safety.  

5 Have fun! Weaving in and out of traffic can be a blast. Going around the city on a bike is exhilarating and is the best way to cover a lot of ground in a day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

5 parks in Buenos Aires you haven´t heard of

Buenos Aires is full of parks and plazas, and your hostel told you all about El Rosedal, Plaza San Martin, Los Bosques del Palermo and Plaza de Mayo, but here is a list of a few parks that are less talked about, but just as worth visiting.

Parque Las Heras

Located just a few blocks east of Plaza Italia on Avenida Las Heras lies this park with a big city vibe and lots of activity. There are several soccer courts, lots of paths, a children's play area, and even a school. This park is surrounded by 15-20 story buildings, and it is a great place for people watching.

It is close to ´Alta Shopping Palermo´ and can be most easily accessed by the ´Bulnes´ stop on the D line in the subway.

Plaza Rodríguez Peña

This is a great park to visit if you are in the city center, and want a place to have lunch in between activities. It is just a few blocks away from the famous library/bookstore ´El Ateneo´ and is right in between the medical school and the main avenue of the city, ´9 de Julio´. The park many taller trees and has a symmetric design with plenty of benches to enjoy the pleasant scenery.

It is right next to the Callao stop on the D line of the subway.

Plaza Güemes

If you want a plaza with a European feeling, look no further. Plaza Güemes is a small plaza overlooked by the ominous´Espiritu Santo´ cathedral. The plaza has some trees surrounding it, and feels like it was pulled out of somewhere in Western Europe. Right next to this plaza is a path with grass, fountains, and monuments that goes for a few blocks along Charcas street. This plaza is pretty close to the aforementioned Parque Las Heras, but on the other side of the Bulnes stop. There are several coffee shops on the Charcas street as well as some tasty parrillas.

Parque Centenario

If you are willing to go a little farther from the downtown ´microcentro´, Parque Centenario is a great place to see another, less metropolitan side of Buenos Aires in the Caballitos neighborhood. Made during the city´s 100th birthday and located directly in geographic center of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires you can find yourself in this sprawling park. It has a laguna in the middle and is basically a huge circle. The park is a one-stop location with multiple playgrounds, an amphitheatre, a museum of natural sciences, a decently sized skatepark and an astronomy center. Getting here can take a little longer from the center, but it is just a couple blocks away from the Ángel Gallardo stop on the B line.

Plaza Mitre

Right in the middle of all the chaos of the city, Plaza Mitre offers a tranquil spot to take a breather and regroup before you hit the next destination. One of the best features of this plaza is that it has a hill, so you can sometimes watch people longboarding, rollerblading, and skateboarding down. The whole park revolves around a towering statue of Bartolomé Mitre, an iconic figure in Argentine history.

This plaza is right next to the National Library (a building you cannot miss while you´re in Buenos Aires), the national law school, the recoleta cemetery, the museum of ´Bellas Artes´, and many other plazas and parks. Getting to this park is relatively easy from most places. The closest subway stop is Las Heras off of the H line.

During your stay, dont miss out on these great spots in the city. They are just as full of beauty and charm as the more commonly known parks!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tips for traveling to Iguazu Falls

Resultado de imagen para iguazu falls
A popular destination in Argentina is Iguazu Falls, a scenic waterfall located in the Missiones province on the boarder between Argentina and Brazil.

If you want to see the falls, you have two options to see them, the Argentine side and the Brazilian side. To put it simply, Brazil has the panoramic view of the falls, and Argentina has the actual falls themselves. In the Argentine side, you can walk around the national park with miles of trails through the jungle bringing you to different viewpoints of the falls. The Brazilian side has a smaller amount of trails and can be thoroughly explored in less time.

Both sides offer boat excursions where you can go along the lower part of the river up until the falls, where you get an up-close perspective of the roaring thunder of the falls. Some excursions actually bring you into the falls to ´ducharse´ and get soaking wet. Whether you choose the tamer excursion or  choose to get wet, this should be the one thing that you do not miss out on at Iguazu. Seeing the falls up close and personal from the water is the best way to see them.

The Argentine park has 2 main trails that service viewpoints of the falls. The upper trail and the lower trail. The upper trail goes along the falls from above, so you can see the water falling down into abyss. It goes along the ridge of about half of the falls, and offers several unique viewpoints. There are a couple monkey clans that common this area, and almost the whole trail offers spectacular views. The lower trail goes below the falls, and offers a more complete view of all the action.

Aside from these two trails, there is the infamous Garganta del Diablo ´devil´s throat´. A train can take you from the park´s center past the upper trail and to the station for the Garganta del Diablo trail. From there, you walk on a path that goes over the river for about 500 meters right up to the tip of the falls.

The ´Sendero Mapuco´ is another popular trail with a more rustic path that goes through the jungle to a small waterfall (not Iguazu Falls) with a swimming area. This is a great option for the summertime to swim and cool off. At the writing of this article, the trail is currently closed due to a group of at least 5 pumas circling the area of the mapuco trail. Pumas are very dangerous, but they do not generally attack adults. Still, the park is taking all precautions to avoid any animal or human harm.

The brazilian side offers a much more relaxing way to enjoy the falls. Less hiking and wider viewpoints offer a quicker way to see the beauty of the park without straining yourself. You can still do some hiking and get wet at the ´Garganta del Diablo´, but the southern side of the falls is much farther from view. With less time walking that means more time drinking caiparinias!

For lodging, Foz do Iguazu, the Brazilian side, offers bigger, more developed hotels with better price for value options than the argentine side. However, this side is also more dangerous and has more robberies and gang problems. The Argentine side is less developed but is very safe. You can walk around pretty much anywhere at any time with no problems. There are some good food options here as well, and just about every corner has ´milanesa´, an classic Argentine dish. Long story short, Brazil has nicer hotels and caiparinias, and Argentina has safe streets and milanesa.

Ciudad del Este in Paraguay is also close, about a 30 min taxi ride. Here you can do some cheap shopping with knock-off products. If you are living in Argentina or Brazil, this can be an opportunity to get electronic goods at a more reasonable price, but be careful about the quality. Sometimes it is too good to be true, and that 100$ iphone isn´t really an iphone at all.

If you go to the falls, no matter what side you choose, you will definitely never forget the immensity of the falls. They are one of the 7 natural wonders of the world for a big reason. Don´t let this amazing place not find its way on your bucket list!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rainy Day in BA

It´s a rainy day in Buenos Aires, you´re walking to work/school/lunch/whatever it is you do, and your shoes are soaking wet. Your clothes are soaking wet too because you forgot your umbrella. Great.

After putting saldo on your phone in a kiosko, you notice this building on your way out.

What´s going on here? Why does this building have so many little windows?

It must be even weirder from the inside, looking out through all those tiny windows.

One of the corners of the rooms is round instead of a more traditional corner. Does that add fung shway?

So many questions, and too much time out in the rain to ponder them.

At this point you are already saturated with h2o, so you start to take your time on your way, to stop and enjoy the odd things in life like that strange building. What´s the hurry to get inside if you will then have to be soggy and wet at your job/class/whatever? Once you have reached this level outside, it´s actually kindof nice to walk around the city in the rain. The dimness and soaking shimmer on everything sheds a new light on your surroundings. In some ways, it makes the surrounding more beautiful.

Take this tree, for example, hiding refuge and escape from the downpoar while spreading its roots to drink paccha mama´s nectar of life.

Even the obelisque has a sort of gloomy bliss to it.

After some retrospective thought, you realize that the sulky atmosphere has a sprawling life to it, showing off the vibrance and strange juxtaposition in life. You see a family inside a cafe enjoying themselves and laughing, you see a newspaper vendor chatting along with his friends, standing in the rain, with a big smile on his face while there is a homeless man right next to his stand begging for change.

Life must go on.

It´s full of odd combinations, and nothing like a rainy day to show it off.

Buenos Aires helps to make the distinctions in life even more obvious with colonial architecture stacked up in the middle of modernized, industrial boxes.

The architecture is like an analogy for the culture in general. Argentina is mostly Spanish and Italian, but it also has a vast population of people with native ancestry, peruvians, germans and all sorts of spots around the world.

This diversity is somewhat unique in South America, and it adds a melting-pot feel that stands out in the whole, Latin America, everybody looks the same, move your hips way of life. People walk fast in town with a mission to get stuff done, but there are still plenty of people living ´pura vida´ taking their time to do stuff at their own pace.

After you take all this in, the rain starts to fade away, and now it´s a pretty nice day out. You see the umbrellas go away, and your clothes start to dry in the sun. Things sure can turn around quick down here....

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sarkis: The Best Restaurant in Buenos Aires?

You have been in Buenos Aires for a week or so, and now you want to eat something tastey that isn´t asado. Is there such a thing as good food that isn´t a big fat steak on a plate with french fries in this town?


While there are, of course, plenty of tastey spots in town that don´t revolve around asado. The one that stands out above them all is Sarkis, a romanian restaurant that has one of the best bang-for-your-buck meals in town.

This is one of the most popular places in town with great prices considering the quality of food. Most plates will cost you around 10 dollars US, and you can get some insanely tastey appetizers for around $5.

What is armenian food you ask? Think shawarma, couscous, zangy meatballs, and humus.

One of their staple appetizers is taboule. It is couscous with onions and other zesty spices. It tastes great, but it will make your breath smell like raw onion.....

Another unique offering is keppa cruda. Keppa is a type of meat and vegitable mix that puts couscous and other spices together into a wonderful combination that will knock your socks off. If you speak spanish then you know that cruda means RAW. Keppa cruda is raw meatballs basically. No, the meat is not treated with lemon like in ceviche either. Don´t worry, the meat is prepared cleanly, and it WILL NOT make you sick. If you want to try something new, go for it.

Another big one is ´puré de garbanza´ - hummus. Its a classic hummus, and you can´t really go wrong with this stuff. Here you can really tell that it comes from garbanzo beans because it has a freshly mashed texture, which makes it stand out from your traditional grocery-bought hummus.

Moving on to the main course, go for the ´kefta con yogurt´, its a big stick of meat with yogurt on it. Enough said.

They also have all sorts of veggies with fillings. Zapallitos rellenas, berenjena rellenas, hojas de repollo rellenas. It doesn´t matter if you don´t understand what these things mean in English. Just go for it.

Once you have filled yourself to the brim with food because of the three extra orders you made before the food arrived to the table because your eyes were bigger than your tummy, it´s not over. Now you have to get dessert.

The ´deditos con helado´ is one of the most popular desserts here. Its a flakey breading over a sugary, mapley crunch served fresh next to some ice cream. This is a classic arabian dessert. If you have tried it, you already know. Another good option here is their walnut sundae. It comes drizzled in chocolate and is full of... yep, walnuts.

The food and service here are great, but the biggest obstacle is actually getting a table. Generally wait lines are over an hour. They do not accept reservations, and the host does not accept any washingtons to put you higher on the list. A big reccomendation is to put your name on the list and go to the other corner of the street where Cachito is located to have a few drinks while you wait.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

South American Ski Resorts: Pros & Cons

When the snow starts to melt away in the northen hemisphere many ski bums begin to ask themselves existential questions about life, meaning and how to have as much fun outside without snow. Luckily for them and any other ski enthusiast, there are plenty of good options for skiing in the southern hemisphere. Argentina and Chile are at the forefront for the skiing in South America.

Here is a list of the pros and cons of the biggest resorts in Argentina and Chile.

Valle Nevado

Valle Nevado is like Chile´s Vail. It´s big, it is relatively modernized, and it is just an hour away 
from Santiago. With a full park, great views, and a good amount of annual snow, Valle Nevado is guaranteed to be a total blast.


It´s big for southern standards with over 2,225 inbound acres of skiing and plenty of backcountry access to put some hair on your chest.

It´s only 45 kilometers from Santiago. The road up has a long switchback section with over 40 turns, but in less than two hours from the center you can be getting your boots on. 

It´s literally connected to 2 other ski resorts, so you could cross over, buy a pass, and check out a whole other resort.

You can see santiago from the top. 

They have helicopter skiing available for some long open powder runs. The terrain can be steep, but it is not as avalanche prone as in other areas like Colorado or Utah.


As with any southern ski resort, the air is humid and a few days of sun can lead to rock hard conditions. A great time to test your variable terrain skills. 

There is next to nothing for night life, food, and accommodation. There are a few buildings at the base and nothing else. 

In-bounds, there is not much to test your courage. Most of the runs are quite mellow, and it takes a bit of hiking to find anything truly steep.

Las Leñas

Just on the other side of the Andes from Valle Nevado is Las Leñas, one of Argentina´s premier ski resorts. If Valle Nevado is the Vail of Chile, Las Leñas is the Aspen of Argentina. 


Las Leñas has some of the driest snow in the southern hemisphere. It has a higher altitude than any of the other resorts in Argentina, and it can get some serious dumps. 

If Valle Nevado was too tame for you, Las Leñas might be able to do it for you. The steeps here are truly steep, and the backcountry run, entre rios is a serious no-fall run. 

While Las Leñas excels in the steeps, it also has a long, flat run that runs for kilometers at the bottom half of the resort. It´s a great place for beginners to get a good grasp on skiing before they decide to tomahawk down a double black.


Las Leñas is rather isolated, and there is not much for a night life outside of a select few bars and restaurants.

A lift ticket is at Las Leñas is generally the most expensive in South America. Lessons are higher here too, but still nothing to compare to Colorado.

 Flights to Las Leñas can be quite expensive as the closest airport is rather small. 


A small resort near the boarder between Chile and Argentina holding some of the best skiing in the world.


Amazing terrain is waiting for you in Portillo. Steeps, pow, and cliffs are sprawled throughout this sliver of paradise. The gnarliest run on the mountain is the super c couloir, the steepest, longest sidecountry couloir in South America.

The runs are awesome, and they have snow quantity and quality to back it up. Portillo as of the writing of this article (mid-July) has the deepest snow pack in the western hemisphere with over 2 meters of a base already.


There are a lot of pomas at Portillo, and some of them can be difficult to use. The infamous slingshot lift is a poma where they put up to 4 people on one poma and stops at the top of a very steep run. Many people fall at the top and sometimes fall halfway down the run. 

Another big issue with Portillo is its remoteness. This may be a perk for some people, but there is literally one hotel, and that is it. Good luck finding a good aprés happy hour here!

Cerro Catedral


Cerro Catedral is Argentina´s largest ski resort located in the city of Bariloche.


Catedral has the most beautiful views of all the resorts on this list... by a long shot. The top of the Nubes chairlift will blow your mind away. The Nahuel Huapi lake can be seen from just about anywhere on the mountain, and it contends with Tahoe´s beauty, perhaps even exceeding it.

There are some awesome runs here too. Inbounds there is a lot of diversity, from easy groomers to some steeper chutes. If you hike alittle, you can reach ´La Laguna´ which has been voted as the best side country runs in Argentina. 

Another great thing about Catedral is that it is in Bariloche, a mountain town full of breweries, restaurants, and things to do. There are plenty of other winter activities in the area as well, such as cross-country skiing, mountain cabins, and snowmobiling.


The biggest letdown of Catedral is that it does not get very much snow. For most of the season you cannot ski down to the base. Downloading is never fun, and the lines can be long at the end of the day to catch a lift down.

Speaking of lines, Catedral has not invested in their chairs lately, so there can be long waits to get on the fixed-cable chairlifts running at less than optimal speeds. The resort seems to trade hands every few years, so maybe Vail will pick it up one of these seasons.

p.s. Vail has actually been trying to get Las Leñas for several years. Just wait, it will happen soon.

Nevados de Chillán

Located several hours south of Santiago lies Nevados de Chillán.



Chillán is one of the only resorts in Chile that actually has tree skiing. Given that skiing in the trees is one of the best things ever, you should check this spot out.

After shredding in the trees all day, you can relax into the resorts hot springs. Chillán is actually a volcano, so you can enjoy the benefits of volcanic activity while thinking about tomorrow´s turns.


Sometimes the weather can be warm, and the precipitation comes down in the form of rain. Coming here during a warmer part of the season may lead to some rock hard turns before the sun gets to soften that snow up. 

Cerro Castor

Literally meaning beaver hill, this little resort is located near Ushuaia, the bottom of the world.


Being located at the bottom of the world means the season runs longer. Generally from June to October, Cerro Castor enjoys the longest season in South America.

Tree skiing here is probably the most consistent in the continent. Chillan and Catedral have better quality runs, but most of the time you cannot ski the trees in those resorts because of a lack of snow. You can ski the trees here for most of the season.

Castor also has a more consistent snow pattern than other resorts. They don´t often get huge dumps, but they get more of them. This keeps the groomers fresh and the trees safe-ish. 

The park scene here is also way better than anywhere else in Argentina. They have a really nice medium jump line and a full park crew to keep everything in good condition. This is not too common down south, so if you´re a park rat, Ushuaia is for you.


The mountain is not very steep. The very top has a little bit of steeps but only for a few turns, and then it goes to a mellow pitch all the way down. This could be a pro if you are just looking to get a few casual turns in with your onesie and selfie stick though.

There is also little variable terrain outside of the top quarter and the trees. Great groomers, but not too many bumps.

So there you have it. Keep in mind that there are many more resorts in South America. This is just a list of the biggest, most well-known resorts. There is a plethora of little hills scattered throughout Patagonia with just a couple chairs that can bring you all the face shots and secret stashes you have been dreaming about. But just like your secret stashes back home, they´re best kept secret while waiting to be found by YOU!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Argentine Cine´s Fascination with Ricardo Darín

Argentine cinema stands out in Latin America as one of the best, holding an oscar, a few international hits, and a great variety of styles and genres.

One of the most recognized argentine movies is ´El Secreto de Sus Ojos´ (the secret in their eyes). It is a crime mystery/thriller which won an oscar and was recently remade in Hollywood staring Julia Roberts.

While having great cinematogrophy and story development, it also exemplifies another common phenomena in argentine cinema: it features Ricardo Darín. Just about every other movie that comes out of Argentina features Ricardo Darín as a central actor.

A google search of best argentine films will lead to a list full of Ricardo Darín. Out of the first 10 on the list, he is the protagonist in 6 of them. If you continue down the list, he appears in many more.

While he certainly is a great actor, there are no features about him that stand out from the rest of the A-list actors in Argentina. He is just an average guy, usually playing the role of an ornery person who is either fighting corruption or resisting the burden of day to day life. Maybe that strikes a tone with the Argentine audience allowing them to put themselves or their loved ones in his role. The idea of a normal person in extraordinary situations.

Regardless of his saturation in Argentine cinema, he is in some quality movies. Here is a list of just a few movies with Ricardo Darín that are worth checking out.

Nueve Reinas     

Un Cuento Chino

Relatos Salvajes  

Elefante Blanco   

Reccommended Accommodation in Buenos Aires: Charlie´s Hostel 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

5 Quintessential Cultural Factors in Argentina

Argentina is a unique place that sets itself far apart from the rest of South America. Buenos Aires is referred to as the Paris of South America, and some say that passing through Patagonia is like being in the Alps.

Here are a few factors that make Argentina unique.

#1 Mate

Ah yes, mate, an ubiquitous symbol of Argentine culture (Uruguay too).

Mate is a bitter, loose-leaf tea that is drunk through a metal straw in a small cup. It has a strong flavor and contains a chemical compound very similar to caffeine. Often consumed as a social activity, each individual finishes the water in the cup, which is also referred to as the ´mate´, and a person in the circle dedicated to the preparation of the mate refills it and passes it to the next person in the circle. There is a special way to prepare it that if done properly will yield a layer of foam on top as can be seen in the photo above. If not done properly, an Argentine will be quick to inform. Most people drink mate in its utterly bitter form as is without adding anything, but some brave to stray away from the cultural norm and add sugar or honey.

Expect to see mate everywhere you go: on the bus, in a shopping center or even behind the bar at a restaurant. Mate is to Argentines as cigarettes are to the French. Odds are very high that you will encounter several opportunities to drink a mate. Try it, but don´t expect it to blow your mind. The flavor is quite strong and bitter. It is a more efficient ´upper´ than coffee though.

#2 Passion for Soccer (Futbol)

This country revolves around soccer. Some say that a local match in Buenos Aires is one of the most intense sporting energies in the world. These guys live and die for their teams. There are rivalries in the league that span over 100 years with two teams at the forefront, River Plate and Boca Juniors. Traveling through the country you will see fans for Boca and River in all corners.

While these two teams are the source of much tension among Argentines, the whole country unites for matches with their national team who boasts some amazing players such as Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.

Another famous icon for the country is Diego Maradona, a footballer considered by many to the the greatest player who ever lived. After having brought his team all the way in the 86 World Cup with some amazing goals, including the´goal of the century´, he started along a path of drugs that ultimately led to his demise in what could have been an even more proliferous career.

#3 The Slang ´Lunfardo´

Anyone who speaks Spanish will surely admit that Argentina has a very special way of speaking. Lunfardo is a form of Castilian Spanish that started in Buenos Aires and is now the common dialect for all Argetines and Uruguayans. It is similar to the way Italians speak in that it is loud, punctual, and has tonal swings. It has a melodic and elegant aspect to it as well making it very identifiable. If you hear an Argentine speak Spanish, you will know their nationality immediately.

Swearing is very commonplace and makes its way in casual conversation. It is not unusual to hear someone say ´la concha de la lora´ as a way of expressing dislike. Go ahead, try and translate that. Hint: concha does not mean shell in this situation.

The flow of conversation is very casual and is sparked more frequently between people who do not know each other. Sometimes the cashier at the supermarket will keep talking to the customer in front of them about a futbol game even if there is a long line of people waiting.

For more information on Lunfardo, check out a previous blog that explains many commonly used words and phrases.

#4 BBQ ´Asado´

It´s not Argentina without meat..... lots and lots of meat.

Grilling is considered an art, and it goes all the way from the meat selection at the butcher to eating it together with friends. Here you do not just go to a supermarket to get a good cut of meat. You go to a ´carnicería´ where the butcher knows anything and everything about what cuts you want, how much you should get, and even will give you advice on how to best prepare each cut.

The real action happens at the asado where they start a fire in the corner of the bbq and then place carbon coals over the fire until they are red hot and ready to be spread under a ´parrilla´ (a parrilla is the actual grill where the meat is cooked).

A good weekend in Argentina is not complete without an asado accompanied by a fernet. Doing an asado should be the #1 thing on your list for the true Argentine experience.

#5 ´ya fue´ attitude

One of the most characterizing aspects of the Argentine culture is the fact that the country is almost always in a near economic crisis on the brink of collapse. The average inflation rate has been 20% for several years, and economic experts are always predicting a market collapse within the next few months. While these collapses have happened before, they do not happen as much as the experts predict. Argentina has been chugging along pretty well considering.

Given this turbulent economic state, many might expect to find the people in a state of panic or total chaos, yet the people still continue their lives, knowing that the best thing to do is take advantage of the good times while they are here and hope for the best. As they say in Argentina, ´ya fue´ - It already happened.

Recommended Accommodation in Buenos Aires: Charlie´s Hostel , Charlie´s Apartments