At times, it's hard to recognize the Latin American setting of the metropolitan center of Buenos Aires. The strong Western influence on the architecture, food, culture, and people of the city can often make it feel like some transplanted European city in the middle of South America. Pasta, cappuccinos, and posh fashion sense are ubiquitous, while the indigenous cultures than many associate with the region seem all but a distant memory. Coupled with the decidedly monochromatic porteño (Buenos Aires) population, sometimes the only thing that reminds me that I'm in South America is the Spanish language.
Regardless, I'm starting to feel the Latino-ness of the city.
"Well, remember that this is South America, after all "
That was how my home-stay mom responded to my surprise as she described the nature of gender relations here in Argentina. After reminding me of this, I saw how everything she had explained was no different from what I had learned about the region in school. (Male privilege, females living with their parents until marriage with certain expectations of comportment that makes most American girls seem uncivilized by comparison). Some of these more traditional gender values seem at odds with the progressive attitude of Buenos Aires, until I considered the entire context of where I am.
Later that night, my friends and I were happy to go to our first boliche that played more music in Spanish than in English. Although there's always going to be the fair share of imported North American & British pop, the bumping reggaeton and salsa music reminded us why Latin American dance clubs are so much fun.
On Saturday, friends and I decided to check out the weekly feria [outdoor market] in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. There, we marveled at stand after stand of traditional artisan goods like silver, mates, art, and jewelry. The smell of leather goods and roasting meat--Argentina's two biggest exports--filled the air while we browsed rows of ponchos and sheep furs. Around the market, street performers and musicians played and danced to traditional South American genres while pesos filled their hats.