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.

Top Destinations in Argentina (outside of BA)

(Photo by teipsum)

Summer is the time when locals take vacation and in Argentina there are many locations that are well worth visiting during the year’s warmer months. Of course, the most popular destinations are the beaches, both in Argentina and in Uruguay.  The Atlantic coast is a favorite of many and some of the hottest places to visit include Pinamar, Villa Gesel, Mar del Plata, Necochea and Punta del Este in Uruguay (find a full list of recommended beaches here).

Further South, in the Chubut province is Puerto Madryn a beautiful spot that is popular for scuba diving and for whale watching between the months of July to December.

(Photo by Perfídia)

The rest of the Patagonian region is also very popular due to its stunning lakes, forests and mountains. Recommended places in this region include Calafate in Santa Cruz, where the famous Perito Moreno glacier is located; El Chalten, which is the Argentine trekking capital; Bariloche; the beautiful Villa La Angostura, and many other towns and hidden spots, surrounded by vibrant buzzing nature.   The climate in the South is dry and it is an area known for its cuisine based on lamb,  trout,  smoked meats, berries and chocolate.

(Photo by gkamin)

Bordering the Andes, a little further up north is the Argentine wine region in the provinces of Mendoza, La Rioja, San Juan,and Salta. This area’s sceneries are also stunning and there are several wine routes in which visitors can stop by different wineries and try everything wine related. The fiesta de la vendimia  (harvest festival) will take place in March this year and from the 26th of February to the 5th of March there is a fun-packed event being prepared by La Morada de los Andes.  (http://www.lamoradadelosandes.com)

(Photo by David Alberts)

As previously mentioned Salta is part of the country’s most prolific wine region and it is also the home to a large indigenous community and unique landscapes. This makes it a very popular destination along with its northern neighbor Jujuy, despite the scorching heat. In this region referred to as el Norte (the north), some of the top attractions are the Cerro de los Siete Colores in Purmamarca and the famous Quebrada de Humahuaca in Jujuy, amongst many others.  Along with Gualeguaychu, in the province of Entre Rios, this is also one of the areas that make big celebrations for Carnival.

(Photo by Carina_85)

Another very popular tourist destination is Córdoba, which is a province in the center of the country with access to hills, rivers, streams and small cascades.  Some popular places are Villa Carlos Paz, La Cumbre, Capilla del Monte (reputed to be a place with unique energy and alien sightings!), the German village Villa General Belgrano and other tranquil towns (including San Pedro, a hippie commune and Cumbrecita an eco town). This region is also known for its typical alfajores.

(Photo by bitxo)

Finally, Argentina’s most popular tourist destination is the Iguazu Falls in Misiones. The sweltering heat dissuades many but still the stunning beauty of these well-known waterfalls attracts many a visitor. The province is also known for its unique vegetation and red earth, and for a stunning location called Saltos de Moconá, which is a long line of 10m high waterfalls that can be seen when the river tide is low.

Argentine Pre Hispanic and Colonial Art

(Photo by Historias de Cronopios)

Argentina is well known for its strong artistic identity and its history, as far back as prehistoric times, is reflected in its art.

The oldest registers of art in Argentina are the many cave paintings that remain throughout the country in the provinces of Salta, San Luis, Tucumán, Jujuy, La Rioja, San Juan, La Pampa, Cordoba, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz. The most famous of these is the Paleolithic Cueva de las Manos (Hands Cave),which is in the Santa Cruz province and has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Later art work by indigenous groups also spanned across the country but mostly flourished in the Northern region, which was the most developed prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.  The materials used in the North, mostly in Salta and Catamarca, were ceramic, metal and textiles on which geometric figures, and both realistic and fantastic representations of humans and animals were engraved. Many of these relics can be seen at the stunning Archeology Museum in La Plata.

With the colonization of America, European style art was introduced. During the early settlements the artwork was mostly religious, with the intention of Christianizing the local indigenous people.

Jesuit painters worked in the Rio de la Plata city (known today as Buenos Aires), Tucuman and Paraguay, and not only incorporated religious paintings and sculptures, but gave the locals artistic education. German Jesuit Florian Pauke’s watercolors of the Argentine colonial period remain as a testimony of the time.

A few years later there was a great influx of foreign artists amongst which Emeric H Vidal, Carlos Pellegrini and Cesar Hipolito Bacle’s work stand out. These artists paved the way for the nineteenth century artists that would define the new Argentine art.

The Museo Hispanoamericano Isaak Fernandez Blanco has an interesting collection of art from the colonial period. Suipacha 1442, Downtown. 4327 0228.

Wine Regions of Argentina – Patagonia

(Photo by ARACELOTA)

The Patagonian landscape is well known for it’s beauty, and tales of  dwarfs, gnomes and fairies. More recently however, the country’s Southern region is becoming increasingly known for brining promising new wines to the country’s viticultural industry.

Due a lower latitude and altitude, the area is very different from the northern Mendoza, San Juan and Salta regions and much cooler. Additionally many of the vineyards lie on the Patagonian dessert which receive irrigation from the a canal system providing water from the Colorado,  Rio Negro and Neuquen rivers.

The two main wine making areas in the South, Rio Negro and the more recently developed Neuquen, are acquiring a name for producing the exclusive Pinot Noir grape, as well as other grapes such as Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Semillon which are also acquiring a great reputation.

This unique wine making area of Argentina is undoubtedly very different from the traditional viticulural regions, however  and although it is still developing, it is proving to be a promising land for top quality wine production.

For a special sample of Argentine wines, accompanied by snacks from HG Restaurant, book your place at our exclusive weekly tastings every Thursday starting at 7PM at Fierro Hotel.  Soler 5862, Palermo. 3220 6800. recepcion@fierrohotel.com.