By: Alec Brudzinski, Austin Glasss, Matthew Jordan, Zach Ramsey
One of the largest attractions in Argentina is skiing, especially around the time of year that our trip took place in mid May. A typical ski season begins in June and ends late September, but peaks in August. Using Buenos Aires as a gateway, skiers and snowboarders fly out to the Andes, which make up Argentina’s west coast. Initially, we thought that there would be some travelers in Buenos Aires getting ready for the ski season. Like in Denver, we also expected to see advertisements and possibly billboards promoting the skiing industry. However, this was not the case as I did not see a single mention of skiing, resorts, or the upcoming season. The Argentinian locals did not speak about skiing at all and I did not see a single advertisement for it either. In May, soccer is by far the most dominant and popular sport for everyone in the greater Buenos Aires area.
That being said, our experience could have some inaccuracy due to the fact that the ski season has not started yet. It would be interesting to see the amount of exposure skiing gets mid-season or if advertising and word of mouth hold more significance once the season progresses. Another factor to take into consideration is that Buenos Aires is quite a ways away from ski towns like Bariloche or Mendoza and the resorts Cerro Cathedral and Las Lenas. Due to the large geographical difference, it makes sense that skiing is not popular and prominent among tourists and locals. That might be the equivalent of asking a visitor or a local from Boston if they were planning a skiing trip to Vail. If we were to fly to Mendoza, I have no doubt that we would see part of the skiing culture just as you would in Denver. Pablo, our tour guide, said that this assumption was correct and that by the time the ski season gets in full swing, more exposure is given to skiing. As of right now in mid-May, soccer is casting a large shadow over the city as people were paying attention to the ending season. If the timing of our trip had been pushed back a couple months to July or August, then we would be able to see more visitors with intents of skiing. Of the people who travel through Buenos Aires to ski, Brazil makes up the vast majority of these visitors. Racers, pros, and enthusiasts from the United States and Europe most often show up in August. Our trip to Buenos Aires did not have any encounters with the skiing culture, which surprised us as we thought we would be able to speak with people on their opinions and experiences.
The difference in the culture of wine in Argentina and America is vast. In a culture where everybody has been drinking wine since a young age everybody is an expert. The younger generation in America drinks wine only in party settings because of the age requirement on the purchasing and consuming of alcohol. So when they get the chance they drink as much as they can as fast as they can, I have experienced this first hand. But in Argentina there is no age requirement so people don’t abandoned moderation and usually only drink casually. Due to these requirements there is a huge difference in the way that wine is pursued in Argentina and America. America has Napa valley as its source as the best wine (and if you don’t live in California expect a long and expensive journey to get there) and Argentina has Mendoza as its location of its best wineries. Being only three hours away from the most densely populated area of Argentina the native people only expect the best wine and if it is not served to them they are extremely disappointed. I experienced this first hand when I told a waiter to order me the cheapest wine and he became extremely angry with me and explained to me the finer points of wine. My own experiences with wine before I came to Argentina had been chugging it out of a bag at parties but not once did a see any Argentinian chugging wine. I had no idea what to expect about Argentina wine but it is undoubtedly the best I have ever had. I had many conversations with owners of wineries about how much traffic they get from foreigners just looking to buy wine. Many of them said that there are huge amounts of people who come in to sample the wines and buy them in large quantities and then ship them home. In American this is done very infrequently and if it is done at all it is usually a large company that will come in a buy from the vineries. Argentina host the best wine that I have ever had the chance to taste and the people are completely immersed in the culture and of drinking it and the lifestyle that accompanies. I am truly excited to continue on my travels of Argentina and visit the homeland of wine in Mendoza.
Attracting people to come to Argentina to learn Spanish is an interesting task for the travel industry. The difficulty for foreigners to learn Argentinian Spanish stems from the various accents, slang, and dialects. In our research leading up to our time in Buenos Aires it was expected that communicating with locals would be a difficult task limited to those with strong Spanish skills. However, from our time we learned that many people do have experience speaking some English. This combined with some limited knowledge of Spanish allowed some individuals with zero Spanish experience before the trip to communicate fairly well. Despite their being a stress on varying dialects and accents we were unable to experience this fully as most of our time was spent in Buenos Aires. We were exposed to some gauchos and farmers further from the city and there were slight differences in accents and how they spoke conversationally. Fortunately, due to Argentinians speaking Spanish at a slower pace compared to my experience with Spanish from Mexicans it is easier to pick out words and follow a conversation. From the perspective of our tour guide, Pablo, he felt Argentina is an excellent country to learn Spanish because Argentinians are patient and kind to people putting in the effort to learn their language. The difficulties that would stem from learning Spanish here would be the application in other speaking Spanish countries after. The contrasting styles of how Spanish is spoken in some countries can effect the communication despite it being the same language. As Pablo put it, learning English in America and then using English in Scotland are two very different experiences. Despite Spanish learning programs not being a huge player in tourism and attracting foreigners it is definitely growing according to Pablo and is a great option.
My communication was not perfect with all the Argentinians but I did feel they had an appreciation for English speakers who try and communicate with them in Spanish. This feeling of being more comfortable when stumbling over Spanish phrases coupled with Argentinians having decent vocabularies of English makes learning Spanish a less daunting task and ultimately makes Argentina an attractive Spanish learning experience.