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Snapshot of Argentina – The official language of Argentina is Spanish; Argentine Spanish is distinct in that it uses voseo instead of the pronoun tú. The indigenous language Guaraní is also spoken in the northeastern part of the country. Argentina’s population descends from immigrants that came from many different countries (mostly Italy and Spain), primarily during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Roman Catholic church is the largest religious denomination in Argentina, and continues to influence Argentine culture and politics. The country has several universities that are run by the Catholic church. However, Protestant churches have been growing in popularity in recent years while participation in the Catholic church has been decreasing. Argentina has a very urban society, with very little of the population living in rural areas. The country has strong traditions in literature, art, film, and theater. Tango music is a unique musical style that began in Argentina, though today cumbia, Argentine rock, pop, and electronic music are more popular. Many regions also have their own traditional folk music and dance styles. The most popular sport in Argentina is soccer, though basketball is also somewhat popular. One of the most popular meals in Argentina is asado, the Argentine barbecue. Beef is the most commonly-used meat, and the barbecues are also social events used to gather friends and family. Pork sausages are also commonly cooked at asados. Pizza, pasta, and salads are other common dishes, a result of Italian influences. Empanadas are popular snack items, and dulce de leche is used in many dessert dishes. Mate is a traditional drink in Argentina. A mate gourd or a cup is filled with yerba mate, hot water is added and then the drink is sipped through a metal straw with a filter called a bombilla. While the bitter drink is often drunk plain, sometimes sugar, orange peel, or other herbs are added for flavoring.
The Church is growing ever stronger in the Buenos Aires area! There are 10 stakes and districts located within the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission, mostly concentrated around the city of Buenos Aires. There are CES Institutes located in Buenos Aires and La Plata, and many other Church resources are available both within the mission itself and in other areas of Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires Argentina Temple was dedicated in 1986. It is located just outside of mission boundaries, and is closed on Mondays, therefore, missionaries are generally only allowed to visit if they are taking investigators there or attending a sealing of their converts.
Rice and pasta are very popular in Argentina, as a result of a strong Italian influence in the country. The Argentine barbecue, which is called asado, is also very popular. Asado consists of grilled meats (typically beef strips or sausages), and many families gather together on Sundays or special occasions to eat asado together. Pizza and empanadas are also popular food items. Lunch is typically the main meal of the day, and is often followed by a short siesta (nap). Dinners are much smaller, and are usually eaten around 8 or 9 PM.
Dulce de leche is an extremely popular dessert spread, often used in cakes or spread on toast or pancakes. Other desserts, such as scones or other cakes, are also common.
Mate is an extremely popular drink in Argentina, made by pouring hot water over certain herbs. However, it is against mission rules to drink mate, as it often results in wasted time and can upset Americans’ stomachs.
Missionaries serving in Argentina generally get around either by walking or by using public transportation. Buses, trains, and a subway system are commonly used in Buenos Aires. Buses and taxis are common both in Buenos Aires and in other cities. It is recommended to avoid taking taxis when possible, as they have a reputation for trying to overcharge foreigners.
While most areas are generally safe, robbery is still relatively common. It is best not to carry large amounts of money or to give the appearance of being a tourist, as this would make you a more likely target for robbers. Avoid parts of your area that are known to have higher crime levels, especially at night.
Argentines are happy, boisterous, and outgoing. It is a common practice in Argentina to greet people with a kiss (or beso). Because of mission rules, elders should not greet others this way, and for sisters it is only acceptable to greet other women with besos.
The cities of La Plata, Berisso, and Ensenada, (located within the mission) are distinct in being the only three cities within the country where large dolls called Momos are burned at midnight on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the start of the new year.
Argentines refer to their dialect of Spanish as castellano. Argentines differ from other Spanish speakers in that they typically use the pronoun voseo instead of tú. Other distinct parts of this dialect is that a double L makes a shh sound, and the letter Y makes a J sound.
“che” – Hey you!
“Como anda?” – How are you?
“Porteño” – someone from Buenos Aires
Both Buenos Aires and La Plata are home to several cultural and historical sites that are interesting to visit on P Day.
Generally, you need to go to the post office to mail anything in Argentina. You don’t buy stamps beforehand, but just pay for shipping there at the post office. It generally takes over a month for packages sent from the United States to arrive in Argentina.
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Straight from the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Peanut butter, dr. Pepper”
“Decent pantyhose and good chocolate”
“tampons, ibuprofen was very expensive, peanut butter, marshmallows”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Beef, pasta, empanadas, pizza”
“Beef and pasta”
“beef, rice, pasta”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“All parts of cow, chicken. (Brain, stomach, liver, heart, etc.)”
“I didn’t eat it, but a family made me chicken foot stew.”
“Crazy to me was grilled cow intestines and blood sausage, but not crazy to them. They a regular part of an Argentine bbq.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Kissing on the cheek (greeting)”
“It wasn’t shocking. I found the people of Argentina to be so warm and wonderful! I fell in love with the country and the people!”
“I loved the greeting on the cheek with kisses custom. I found a little strange clapping outside instead of knocking on the door, but quickly learned how to clap like a pro.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission?
“Soak it in and love the people.”
“Love the people, and you will get do much more in return than you ever give.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“How to cook more”
“How much work it takes on my part to have a successful companionship.”
“That I was just as imperfect as each of my companions.”
“I went to the best mission in the world!”
**Did you serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission? If so we want to hear from you! Share your experiences here or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org**