Argentine Aborigines

(Photo by canosadaniel1)

Argentine cultural identity is a mix of many influences stemming from the encounter of local aborigines with Europeans since the Colonization of America, and after the many migratory currents that the country underwent.

In Buenos Aires, the presence of European influences is more than evident: French architecture, Italian and Spanish food, language and gesticulation, and so on. The indigenous influence in the capital however is less apparent, although in many other provinces local tribes are still a significant part of society.

The Argentine aboriginal map is divided into three main regions: the Andean Northwest, which at a time was an outpost of the Inca Empire and the indigenous culture still thrives today; the Northeast, where some tribes, like the Wichis still exist today, related to the Tupí and Guaraní peoples, and finally the Pampa and Patagonia regions, populated by mainly nomadic tribes that are mostly extinct.

Within each of these regions and large generalized groups of indigenes there are many tribes, each with their own cultural characteristics, many which make up a part of the local identity today. Mate drinking for example, is a ritual that comes from the Guaraní who planted the mate herb over the burial ground of their loved ones and then shared the beverage made from the leaves to keep the spirit of their people alive.

The Argentine Gaucho

(Photo by tim ellis)

The gaucho is one of the few local characters which the national culture has adopted as truly Argentine. Allthough the origins of these nomadic cattle herders is ambiguous it is generally accepted that they appeared after colonization as the offspring of Natives with Europeans. A few things characterized this new generation of locals; one was their skill riding horses and handling cattle, another was their nomadic nature. They were also proficient with knives, boleadoras and guitars and many of them were payadores, which means they recited poetic stories about their lives to the strum of the guitar. It is the gauchesque payadas that led to the posterior gauchesque literature that was key to transforming the Gaucho into an emblematic national character.

The image of the gaucho was not always positive. For a long time they were considered to be outlaws and rebels, and as social castaways they were readily sent to fight the civil wars. Once the wars were over, there was no place in society for gauchos, so they were culturally resignified. The parallel influx of immigrants to the city had created a need for a national identity, and for the countryside to become appealing as it was the land that needed to be populated. Amidst this context, gauchesque literature, which portrayed the life, tradition and used the language of the gauchos, found its perfect place. From then on, through the local literature of emblematic authors such as José Hernandez who wrote the famous Martín Fierro, Leopoldo Lugones who wrote La Guerra Gaucha and  Ricardo Güiraldes, who wrote Don Segundo Sombra, amongst others, the gaucho acquired a mythical place in society.

Popular literary adaptations to film were also made from gauchesque novels, completing the insertion of this rustic character into the Argentine culture. Some noticeable examples are Juan Moreira adapted to film by Leonardo Fabio, Los Hijos de Fierro, which makes a parallelism between Peron and Martin Fierro, by Pino Solanas and Don Facundo Sombra adapted to film by Manuel Antín.

We Recommend: San Antonio de Areco

(Photo by Eduardo Amorim)

To the North of Buenos Aires province, just 113 Km’s away from the city, lies a little town abuzz with visitors looking for a bit of history and a taste of gaucho life. The homeland of Segundo Ramirez, a local gaucho who poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes was inspired by when writing Don Segundo Sombra, one of the pillars of Argentine literature, is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the typical countryside  gaucho life, to find native silverwork and traditional crafts, and explore historic landmarks.

 

Our suggestions:

Check out historic Gaucho artifacts and learn more about this Argentine archetype at the beautiful Museo Gauchesco y Parque Criollo Ricardo Güiraldes which is structured like an eighteenth century hacienda.

The Pampa Indigenas were already adorning their wives with silver bracelets way before the Spanish colonized the area so it should come as no surprise that one of the local specialties should be silverwork.  The Centro Cultural and Museo Taller Draghi showcases some of the finest examples of the elaborate designs of renowned silversmith Juan José Draghi.

Visit the historic bridge (Puente Viejo) and the San Antonio de Padua church, two of the first constructions of the town.

Take a canoe down the river, ride a horse through the open fields or go sports fishing to enjoy the natural environment San Antonio de Areco has to offer. Contact services here.

Stop for a sweet treat at La Olla de Cobre, where Carlos and Teresita make their own chocolate starting from the processing of the cacao bean to the delicious end product. Don’t miss their fantastic alfajores!

 

How to get there?

Two options are available to get to San Antonio de Areco, one is by car, the other by bus.

By car take Ruta 8.

By bus: Head to the Retiro Bus Terminal where  bus companies are grouped together by region. Chevalier  has a bus to Areco that takes about two hours.  During the summer season it is advised to buy tickets ahead of time.

 

Where to stay?

There are various estancias, inns  and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. Some of the more known options are  Estancia La Porteña de Areco, El Ombu de Areco, and Paradores Draghi.

 

Tips:

Go on a weekday to avoid crowds and if you’re traveling in November don’t miss Tradition Week where festivities and local customs are celebrated all month.

We Recommend: Cooking Classes in Buenos Aires

 

One of the best parts of traveling is trying the local food, and, for those who like to cook, discovering how to make it! Alfajores, empanadas, asado, locro stew, chimichurri sauce, dulce de leche, and pastries are all part of our traditional menu. We are sure you will enjoy tasting these savory meals and recommend you try making them by taking a cooking class in English.  Find some options below:

(Making empanadas by Scorbette37)

 

Cooking with Teresita:

Different cooking class options are offered in this bed and breakfast in the outskirts of the city. Whether its a short empanada lesson, a one day food tour or a chance to make asado you’re sure to enjoy this popular option, where you will be able to cook and sample delicious food and wines.

 

Contact:

http://www.try2cook.com

4293-5992

teresitabella@gmail.com

 

Argentine Cooking Clases

Norma is a warm and welcoming woman who teaches how to make empanadas, locro, and alfajores in her Saturday classes where you will also enjoy a great lunch with wine. The plus side is that her classes are in Belgrano.

 

Contact:

http://www.argentinecookingclasses.com/

nsoued@gmail.com

15 4470 2267

 

Cecilia D’Imperio

Certified chef, Cecilia D’Imperio, has been teaching cooking classes for twenty years having written books and articles as well. She teaches a variety of personalized courses and short seminars, which you can adapt to fit in your schedule.

 

Contact:

http://www.ceciliadeimperio.com

info@ceciliadeimperio.com

 

Other links:

How to Make a Typical Argentine Asado

How to Make Dulce de Leche

Rabbit Empanadas Recipe

Hernan Gipponi’s White Salmon with Sauteed Squid

Off the Beaten Path- Villa Ocampo

Villa Ocampo

Villa Ocampo, a beautiful homestead in the suburbs of the city, was a meeting point for intellectuals and authors of the early twentieth century. Rabindranath Tagore, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Borges, Bioy Casares, Octavio Paz, Albert Camus, Stravinsky, Le Corbusier, Malraux and Indira Gandhi are just a few of the guests that were welcome to the villa by renown Argentine author Victoria Ocampo.  She later donated the stately residence to the UNESCO out of fear that the Peronist government of the time, who censored her, would destroy the place. Additionally, it was her wish that Villa Ocampo remain as a cultural juncture.

Now a day the property functions as a museum with temporary exhibitions and live music.  The current exhibitions include a presentation of Victoria and architecture, (she introduced rationalist architecture in the city), and an exhibit of an unpublished issue of the SUR magazine on Surrealism.

You may also sit down for lunch or tea in the gardens (we suggest some tea with scones).

Opening hours- Thur-Sun 12.30pm-6pm

Tours- Thur and Fri- 2.30pm and 4.30pm

Sat and Sun- 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4.30pm.

Entrance fee- 18 pesos

Elortondo 1837

Beccar, Partido de San Isidro

Tel (54-11) 4732-4988

Informes@villaocampo.org

www.villaocampo.org

www.facebook.com/villaocampo

How to get there-

By train- From Retiro on the Train that goes to TIGRE. Get off at the Beccar station and either take a cab or walk 7 blocks until Puente Uriburu and then turn to the right at El Ortondo.

By car-Drive straight down Av.Libertador up to the 17,400 where Puente Uriburu is and turn right, one block, then right again at El Ortondo.