More Thoughts on Argentina

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

Now that I’ve been here almost two months, I’ve learned a lot…

Wow, I can’t believe two months could pass so quickly, but there you go. I’ve now been from the Southernmost point of Argentina, Ushuaia, up to the middle, Mendoza. Inbetween I’ve stopped in El Calafate, El Chalten, Bariloche, Villa La Angostura, San Martin de Los Andes, and a host of tiny towns inbetween. My favorite, so far, is still Patagonia. I’m not sure I can top hiking a glacier and walking with penguins, but we’ll see! Here are some more thoughts on the Argentinian culture…

Lighthouse in Ushuaia

Photograph by Heather Markel, copyright 2019

Money is a Problem. One of the annoying things in Argentina is cash. It’s very difficult to get and a strange business. I’m only able to take out about $100 at a time. When I’ve gone into the bank to ask if I can get more through a teller, they tell me to go use the ATM multiple times to get whatever amount I want. How convenient, for them, because the Argentinian bank charges me roughly $7 per withdrawal! A lot of places give discounts for payment in cash, but it may, or may not, be worthwhile depending how many times you have to refill your wallet.

“The good, the bad, and what I’m learning”

People are Inclusive. As a solo traveler I’ve been so awestruck by the number of times I’ve traveled alone, only to find myself pulled into a lovely group of Argentinian friends traveling the same way who don’t want me to be alone. This even happened on a public bus on the way to a beach – two couples insisted I sit with them to avoid being alone. I made a couple of Argentinian friends in one town that ended up joining me in another and at night, they would walk me home and be sure I was safe. Complete love!

A view captured on a hike in Villa La Angostura.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2019

The national diet is not very healthy. Breakfast is full of sugar (e.g. sugar coated pastries), ham, and cheese. The rest of the day you’ll find mostly meat. I’m truly not sure how Argentinians live past 20 with this high sugar, high cholesterol diet. It may be the mate, or the Malbec, but either way, I find myself constantly searching for salads withOUT cheese and craving seafood. Also, Subway here is not like in the US – all the vegetables and proteins look days old, so disappointing when you’re craving a Subway sub!

Buses are well run. One of the things I really like is how good the bus system is in Argentina. Your bags receive a tag with a number, and when you get off the bus, you have to show the matching number to retrieve your bag. Buses also offer several different levels of comfort and for long-term journeys it’s nice to be able to be in a plush, reclining chair! Sometimes you even get meal service, it’s pretty darn amazing.

The Spanish changes from North to South. As I travel North I’ve been having to adapt my ear to the language all over. In the South, I’m from “New York,” but further North I’m from “New Jork.” The language here is also Catalan as opposed to classic Spanish so they use a word, for example, “Vos” which doesn’t exist in Spanish. It’s the informal way to say “you.”

There is so much variety. From landscape, to food to activities to people to accents, I’m amazed at how diverse the country is. I can’t believe that in one place I’ve gone from, literally, the Arctic to a much warmer climate. From frozen glaciers to desert. This is truly a fascinating country.

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