The ¨Bondi¨ Identity

(Photo by Libertinus)

Colectivo and bondi (Lunfardo slang) are the common local words for bus. And, the colorful bus lines, with their character bus drivers are truly a part of the local identity.

The bus system in Argentina dates back to the 1930’s when due to the economic crisis, taxi passengers began to dwindle and cab drivers came up with the idea of collective taxis. The exact date is the 24th of September of 1928; it was then that taxi drivers stood on their stop and began to holler out promotional tariffs to specific destinations (Plaza Once and Plaza de Mayo).

From then on routes began to be established, and bigger cars were purchased until the lines were made official and actual buses began to circulate.

As many travelers have noticed, one of the defining characteristics of the Argentine bus system is its colorful bus lines.  As this mode of transport was private, the initial reason for this was to distinguish one line from the other.

One of the most popular color combinations was red and black. Some speculate that this was because the owners of the buses were anarchists.

The colorful system however did not last long. In 1936 the Transport Corporation was founded and bus lines were either bought or confiscated, their colors traded in for a uniform red and ivory.

Then, during the 50’s,  the Ministry of Transport determined that all buses should be silver with a blue lining.  It wasn’t until the privatizations in the 60’s that buses recovered their traditional coloring.  Bus tickets, were also different colors depending on the bus line and distance, and many collected them.

Now a days bus tickets have been homogenized thanks to the ticket machine, yet this colorful city emblem keeps unique chromatic combinations, as well as occasionally sporting fileteado porteño, and decorations inside the buses such as engraved mirrors, curtains and special lighting, amongst others.

Mate: A Community Tradition

(Photo by Evelyn Proimos)

A bitter beverage brewed from the leaves of the Yerba Mate has been circulating Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay from before the Colonization. Drinking mate has become a  kept tradition of the Guarani Indians, carried out in a ritual and collective form.
Popular belief states that the Guaranies planted Yerba Mate on the burial sites of their loved ones. As the plant grew, they collected the leaves and brewed mate with it which they shared in a round with their families. It was their belief that the spirit of their deceased would grow with the plant and seep through the beverage into their own bodies.  Many other legends exist around this infusion drank from a calabash gourd through a metal straw, but despite diferent versions it has allways been a tradition valuing the preservation of the culture and sharing amongst the community.

Throughout the colonization, the many cultural and social changes, and the large waves of immigration that the country has gone through, this custom has remained and has been adopted to a larger or lesser degree by all, having become a symbol of local identity and really keeping a piece of the Guarani alive.  The mate culture has many peculiarities, such as considering the first fresh mate to be the “fools mate” because it is still too bitter.   The custom of sharing mate in a round has also been kept and has made this drink more than just an antioxidant packed infusion. Rather, it is a tradition which brings people together to share a beautiful and ancient ritual that comes from the land.

Would you like to know how to brew your own mate? Click here.

Dominguero #1: The balconeer

 ”Dominguero” is a local slang word that refers to the people driving around, sitting in parks, window shopping and basically enjoying their Sunday. This segment is a snapshot of those characters that could very well be “domingueros” and that give the city its character.  

   

Balconeers are usually older generation Argentines who come out to their balconies in the summer to sunbathe, watch the people go by, and drink some mates.  Cheerfull, curious and sociable they are likely to wave or smile if you look up and catch their eye.