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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.
There are no temples in the Argentina, Mendoza mission. The closest temple to travel to are the Santiago, Chile temple and the Buenos Aires, Argentina temple. The Cordoba temple is currently under construction. Mendoza is the largest area of members, with five stakes and a district, followed by both San Juan and San Luis.
- Mendoza (Capital)
- Godoy Cruz
- Maipu de Cuyo
- San Rafael
- Valle De Uco (district)
- San Luis
- San Juan
The food in the Argentina, Mendoza San Juan and San Luis share many similarities. Like most South American countries, lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Families gather from work and school to each lunch together. Popular main courses are Milanesa (fried Chicken), Pasta and chicken, rice dishes with meat, locro (a bean soup), Asado, and gnocchis. There are always side dishes during this lunch meal: tomato salad, green salads, cooked or sometimes fresh vegetables, and bread.
The Asado is one of the most important meals ever prepared. It consists of all different types of meat cooked over a low, burning fire. The meat is usually prepared with salt and lemon, or occasionally marinated with different sauces. Asados are costly and infrequent, but very important.
Empanadas: These tasty treats are a standard party food or easy lunch and dinner option. They consist of tortilla-like dough, shaped as a crescent moon, and filled with a variety of food combinations. The most traditional empanada of Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis is filled with ground meat, onions, and hard-boiled eggs.
Mendoza, San Luis and San Juan all utilize two main systems of transportation, the bus systems and taxis (or remises, private taxis). Buses run all throughout the day and night, frequenting most towns and major cities. Bus lines are color coded and numbered to help people move throughout the city and state. The local bus routes usually run every 15 minutes to destinations 20-30 minutes from the town center. Longer destinations offer limited runs. Each major city has a central bus station, which all buses pass through, along with multiple stops along the route. Mendoza has the most complex and utilized bus systems between the three provinces. Each bus run has a certain fare. These fares can be purchased with change or small bills in all three provinces. In Mendoza there are rechargeable cards that anyone can buy and charge an amount to and use to buy fares. These cards are purchased at stations and designated areas near the town centers.
Taxis and Remisses are other commonly used modes of transportation. Taxis function like any other taxi in another city. They are bright yellow cars that transport people from one place to another for a fee. The Remisses do the same thing, except they aren’t able to wait in all the places taxis can wait for tourists or locals, they are cars of all shapes, colors and sizes, and they also take personal calls to transport people from one place to another. It is agreed that taking a Remis is cheaper than taking a taxi, but they also tend to be less reliable if one calls them from a far off distance, but they find a better deal along the way.
All three provinces have their own small airports and host flights to and from Buenos Aires. The Mendoza airport also includes flights to Cordoba and Santiago, Chile.
Mendoza is also unique in that it has the Metrotranvia light rail system, which sends people from Mendoza to five other departments (counties) including: Las Heras, Central district, Godoy Cruz, Maipú and Luján de Cuyo. It is called “Linea Verde” or the Green Line and runs daily from 6am-2am.
Mendoza and the Cuyo area are generally safe areas. Like all places, there are certain areas and neighborhoods to avoid. It is wise to ask local members about the safety of the area and balance these opinions with personal feelings. As long as individuals use their common sense, they won’t run into much of anything suspicious.
In the outer towns and countryside of Mendoza, San Luis and San Juan there are few street lights for walking. The sidewalks are uneven and make it difficult for running, so if one’s morning routine involves an outside jog, where good shoes to absorb the stumbles from the uneven paths.
The Argentinian people are a very loving and welcoming people. They always greet friends, family and strangers with a kiss on the cheek. Most provinces only kiss on the right side, but some Argentinians are accustomed to two kisses, one for each cheek. It is an expression of endearment. Argentinians are very direct people and will ask you very personal questions. They aren’t trying to be nosy, it’s their way of showing engaging and being genuine.
Families are a major part of daily life. Eating with the family at lunch is important. Many of the city businesses close for lunch and almost all of the stores outside of the city will be closed for lunch and the “Siesta.” The Siesta is a period of time when people take naps and rest from the morning and quite often take naps. It lasts between 1-4pm every day. Households prefer not to be bothered during the Siesta.
Catholocism is the national religion, which means there are a variety of holidays celebrating important Catholic saints and influential individuals all throughout the year. Christmas Eve is celebrated with huge fiestas and fireworks, along with New Years Eve and Easter Week features many celebrations.
In Mendoza, San Luis and San Juan, the agricultural industries play a major role in society. Festivals in all three provinces highlight specific harvests and put on pageants to crown a festival queen for the coming year.
Sending Goods to Argentina
The Argentinian mailing system is slow and expensive for the sender and the receiver. Although it is great to send things to your missionary, there are a few things every friend or family member should know. The mailing system in Argentina is very slow and takes weeks-months before a package arrives. Letters tend to be faster than packages. The moment a package leaves the United States, the possibility for pieces of that package to disappear increases greatly. Boxes coming from out of the country are likely to be opened. Write general explanations on the customs sheet. Camouflage important items. Hide things in socks, cereal boxes, etc. Most boxes sent to Argentina receive a pick-up fee, meaning a missionary pays a fee to pick up the box. The heavier the box, the bigger the fee for the missionary. It’s more cost efficient to send items with flat rate boxes. The smallest box can pack a lot in it and usually the post office in Argentina doesn’t add a pick-up fee to it.
Casilla de Correo 631
Straight from the Argentina Mendoza Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“peanut butter, candy bars, microwaves, A/C”
*What did you eat the most of?
“pasta, bread, and meat”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“cow stomach and liver”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Although I knew that Argentina has a large European influence, it would still surprise me to see blue-eyed, blonde-haired people who didn’t know how to speak English! Also, the tradition of passing around a shared cup of the herbal tea mate at every social function was very different. Finally, the fact that much of Argentina still takes a daily siesta for a few hours during the afternoon was very unique. The whole city would shut down. Shops would close, streets would empty, and everyone (except the missionaries!) would go home to sleep for a few hours during the late afternoon.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Argentina Mendoza Mission?
“Be open minded to the culture. Argentines have a reputation of being somewhat proud and haughty and in some ways they are, but there are humble, beautiful people that need the gospel everywhere there as well.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish that I would have known that I would make deep, meaningful friendships on my mission that would change my life forever.”