Argentina is a beautiful country, and it is undisovered by many North Americans who choose to vacation in Europe, a region of the world they find to be more historic and romantic.
However, I would argue that Argentina’s history is far richer, but often ignored. Consider the dictatorship that tortured the country for almost 8 years.
The Dirty War was a period of United States-backed state terrorism and lasted between 1976 to 1983. During that period military and security forces and right-wing death squads in the form of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA, or Triple A) hunted down political dissidents and anyone believed to be associated with socialism, left-wing Peronism or the Montoneros movement.
Up to 50,000 citizens were killed, or disappeared during this time. A great film that chronicles this period is called The Official Story. I’ve included the trailer below.
Since 1977, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have congregated outside of the Casa Rosada to demand answers from the government about their missing children, who were kidnapped during the dictatorship and given to the families of govermment officials, or other more wealthy families who could not have biological children.
In 2001 Argentina suffered a catastrophic economic collapse, overnight. Citizens went to withdraw money from their bank accounts to learn that their life savings were all gone. As a result, Argentina is a country with enormous economic instability. Inflation is currently at 25% and corruption is tolerated, because it’s almost impossible to fight.
Despite all of this, I do love it here. But I wouldn’t want to live in Argentina full-time. Often when I’m in Toronto I think of how the grass is greener somewhere else, and I romantacize Argentina a lot. Then, when I arrive here, once again, I remember how lucky I am, and how good I have it in Canada. There is a reason that many Argentines want to leave Argentina.
Things move at a snail’s pace, and it can be frustrating for people like me, who are spoiled by North American efficiency. For example, customer service is awful. Do not expect to be served with a friendly, warm attitude. Staff at pubs and restaurants behave as though you’re bothering them when you ask to order, and you have to flag them down to get another glass of wine. They are not attentive to say the least.
But, if you can see past that, and the often aloof attitudes of porteños, you’ll get on just fine.
On the flip side Argentines are patient when you’re learning Spanish, they attempt to help you. They always want to know what you think about Argentina, and they want you to genuinely like being here.
My trips are always different, and I don’t usually do what they tell one to do in a tourist handbook. I’m more of a person who likes to go for a walk, or to a pub, or a restaurant and observe locals going about their lives.
Saying that, I have also done what is required of me, except I’ve never gone to see a tango show. I don’t know a single Argentine who does tango, so don’t get caught up in that nonsense. Unless, of course, you want to.
It is always sunny and hot here. Despite some aloofness, Argentines can also be warm, and inviting.
But mostly, the country is beautiful, and worth your time, money and energy. To prove it, I am including some of the photos I have taken over the years.