A reader wrote-in asking for some advice with social customs. I won't be able to provide a complete overview, but I will try to point out a few things.
Thank you for providing your blog site. I think it will be very valuable to me as I consider an exploring trip to Argentina. My general question is, could you provide an overview of social customs in Argentina? Specifically, what social faux-pas might a North American make when traveling the country. For example, I read somewhere that wearing camo clothing is a major social faux-pas in Argentina...
Things Not To Do
You are right about camouflage clothing. You should NEVER wear something like that here. The fact is, people will assume you are a veteran from the Malvinas War and they'll think you're nuts. The veterans here are committing suicide all the time and if people saw you wearing camo, they'd think something was wrong with you.
While we're on the topic of clothes, try to dress better than you do in the States... especially for you people who live out west. People dress sharp here. Living in a small city in the southwest, people used to comment to me about how I dressed well. Here, I'm usually underdressed compared to most people. I still haven't got around to buying new clothes here yet, but when I do, I'll be buying nicer things than I own now. In fact, this rule applies to Americans whenever they travel. Americans have a reputation for dressing like scrubs when they travel, so try to pack some nice things so that you can fit in and not standout so much.
Men and women greet each other by giving one kiss on the right cheek. Men who don't know each other well greet each other with a handshake. Men who know each other well will greet each other with a kiss on the cheek as well. (I still haven't gotten used to this, but when in Rome...) When you're meeting someone for business for the first time, make sure you have a card to give them.
When you say goodbye, say "ciao" (pronounced "chow"), instead of "adios", which isn't used here.
Don't start talking with people you don't know about the military dictatorship, disappeared people, or the Malvinas war. Talk about fútbol instead. Nobody wants to hear a tourist's opinion about these things. Argentines are proud of their country and many of them understand English, so don't be talking negatively about their country or any of these sensitive issues within earshot either. I lived real close to Recoleta for 5 months or so and several times, when I was out at dinner, I heard some stupid remark made by a loud tourist about the Malvinas or something. The Argentines who understood English just shook their heads, disgusted.
Don't wear a lot of jewelry, brag about how much money you have, or talk like you're superior. Argentines appreciate modesty much more than Americans do.
Anyone else out there... feel free to add whatever you can think of.
Labels: Argentina Travel, Living In Argentina