What are the things that come into your mind when you talk about Argentina…for most of us it will immediately bring up STEAK and TANGO, am I right? Or perhaps Evita Peron? Oh yes, since last week also The Pope Francis I, former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, he is from Argentine, being the first Pope from the Americas, from Argentina. He seems to be seeking the closeness to people I heard, standing in the doorway and saying hello, I find this very fresh and nice. It is stated that according to the World Christian Database Argentines are: 92.1% Christian, 3.1% agnostic, 1.9% Muslim, 1.3% Jewish, 0.9% atheist, and 0.9% Buddhist and others.
Argentina has a great history with proof of first human life around 8000 BC; with the Spanish conquistadores in early 16th century landing on the shore looking for the silver rumours in old Europe were telling about; colonialism and war for independence, Peronism and today with a first lady as President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the wife of Nestor Kirchner who brought the country out of its financial crisis. Did you know that Argentina was the first country to allow same-sex marriages?
Argentina has attracted many immigrants from Europe, especially during WW II, many families have a Germanic family background, others stemming from other European countries such as Italy, Scotland, Norway, Poland, France, Portugal, Sweden, Greece, Czech Republic, Croatia, Netherlands, Russia, and England. That makes it an interesting mixture due to which tolerance is reigning in Argentina.
A wide country with a total surface area of 2,780,400 km2, with six main regions: the Pampas are fertile lowlands located in the center and east; the Mesopotamia a lowland enclosed by the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, and the Gran Chaco is between the Mesopotamia and the Andes. Cuyo is at the east side of the Andes, and the Argentine Northwest is at the North of it. The Patagonia is a large plateau to the south, having become a favourite destination in tourism.
Many stories are told about the life in the rich cattle land, its peones, the cowboys of Argentina; about its heroes during the war of independence; the passion of the people manifested in the famous Tango that came up in the early 20th century, swept over to Europe, became fashion in Paris and went as far as Turkey where even Atatürk danced the dance of dances. Today Tango has experienced a revival in Turkey as well as Cyprus besides Latin dances in general.
Evita Peron, the actress and second wife of Juan Peron, president of Argentina twice between 1946 and 1974, Evita who did so much for Argentina and its women and died so young, and who does not know of this beautiful song: Don’t cry for me Argentina from the Musical Evita.
A country known for its rich cultural life, with Jorge Luis Borges being one of the lead authors of the 20th century, with a great and important art scene, a mixture of European and local traditions, its music influenced by political upheavals, such as famous singer Mercedes Sosa who has died some years ago. Interesting architecture due to its manifold cultural heritage with Buenos Aires being the leading and the second biggest metropole in South America, with many museums and beautiful buildings that remind us of Madrid and Paris.
A country of sports, be it football or any other ball sports, also many outdoor sports because of its mild climate, polo and the traditional pato similar to polo but in the old times with a duck inside a basket instead of a ball, given up because of its cruelty, (pato means duck), then pétanque which is the French Boule or the Italian Boccia.
A country with a wide variety of wildlife because of its various climatic zones and still space untouched and clean, to feel free with air to breathe, and if I come to think of it, a country I would like to visit more intensely.