Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Chile - South America's Switzerland-esque West Coast

Relaxed Chile is a diverse landscape from the famous Parque Garden Zoo and railway, to the stunning Torres Del Paine National Park, the amazing Valle de la Luna and the Atacama Desert. Proclaimed independent from Spain in 1810, Chile still practices Old European Manners (see post from August 12, 2020). As well, chic Chile has excellent wines and seafood. Although Easter Island is 3,500 miles away, it is a big attraction from Chile. 

  • The beautiful Republic of Chile is a bit larger than Texas with a total population of 14.5 Million. The Capital is Santiago with a population of 5.5 Million. Other large cities include Valparaiso and Concepcion with populations of 300,000 each. Currency is the Chilean Peso. 1 Peso = 100 Centavos. Median income is $5,680.00. All citizens are required to vote by law.  
  • Average temperatures are varied from the subtropical to four seasons. Best to layer your clothes. 
  • Natural resources include fruit, fish & minerals include copper, iron, steel, timber, pulp, paper, and cement. You will be judged by where you stay in Chile, so stay in a top notch hotel. 
  • Famous Authors and Poets include Nobel Prize winner Gabriels Mistral in 1945, and Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Pablo Neruda, in 1971. School in Chile is mandatory from age 6-14. Languages include Spanish (Castillano), German, Italian and English. Literacy rate is 95%.
  • Sports include "Futbol" (soccer) and dances include the Tango, Cumbia and traditional Waltz.
  • Ethnicity includes Mapuche (largest group of South American Indians) and European. 
  • Dress code is casual chic and clean. Black clothes and shoes in the cities are the best for blending. Layer as the weather varies greatly per location. Do not wear shorts in cities. Only wear shorts at the beach on your vacation. Gentleman wear slacks at night. 
  • Family is the primary structure of Chilean society. Respect and courtesy within the family unit are of the upmost importance. Kindness is valued. Hard work to help the family is valued as well. Never criticize or embarrass anyone in public, even if it is in jest. Humor rarely translates.
  • expect to be interrupted in conversation. It's the Chilean way! It shows interest! 
  • When smoking, offer a cigarette to everyone. Never refer to anyone as "Mestizo." It's rude.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing, yawning or sneezing. Then, immediately excuse yourself and go wash your hands. Stay away from all hand gestures. Often they translate as obscene. 
  • Do shake hands. A hug and 1 kiss on a cheek among friends is acceptable. Greet the head of the household first. Stand for all introductions. Formal titles are important. Use them until invited to do otherwise. Chileans are close talkers. Do NOT back up. Direct eye contact is important. Smile, be very polite and positive. Never talk about politics or religion. One can ask about occupation, but do not mention salary and never talk about money. 
  • Meals are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Eat Continental style only. Never touch your food with your fingers including grapes, strawberries or french fries! Never lick your fingers either as both are considered not only rude but vulgar. 
  • Summon the wait staff by raising your hand. Never bacon the wait staff with your index finger. Considered rude. Never place your hands on your lap which is why you must eat in the Continental style with your wrists above the table to show you have nothing "up your sleeve." No separate checks. One must ask for the check. Summon the wait staff by raising your whole hand. Stay a bit after the meal as it shows you are enjoying your meal and time at the restaurant, maybe with a rum or coffee, and enjoy. Leave small cash on the table as well as a 10-12% tip. 
  • Lunch is the main meal of the day from 1:00-3:00pm. Tea time is 5:00-6:00. Dinner is light and late from 8:00-10:00pm. Taste everything that is served. Don't talk with food in your mouth.
  • Drink bottled water only. Always travel with pink chewable pills to coat your stomach before each meal. Vacations are fun but foreign foods you are not accustomed to can be challenging. BBQ's are very popular! Arrive 30 minutes late for social parties. 
  • Tip the wait staff 10-12%, It's tradition to leave a bit of cash on the table after the meal, and coffee. Tip the Porter $2 per bag. Tip the Maid $4-5 per day. Don't tip the Taxi driver, but do round up the fare to the nearest dollar and let them keep the change. Tip the Concierge $20. Do NOT bribe service people. 
  • Chilean cuisine includes: "Empanadas de Horno" = baked turnovers filled with meat. "Asados" = Grilled Beef. "Pastel de Choclo = meal of beef, chicken, onions, corn, eggs and spices. "Cazuela de Ave" = a pot pie of chicken in broth with vegetables & potatoes. First drink the broth, then eat the meat and vegetables. "Sopaipillas" = Deep fried pumpkin fritters. "Humitas" = flat corn pancake stuffed with corn paste. 
  • The Chilean culture is "machismo." Men stare at women. It is common flattery. Ignore it and keep walking. Respect for women is traditional, but, do NOT sit at a bar alone, and do NOT walk alone at night. Don't bring or wear expensive jewelry, purses or luggage.  Pick pockets are active at the airport, in crowded spaces and public transport. Be aware. Smog and smoke are common place in Santiago. Take a mask. 
Read the book: "House of Spirits" by Isabel Allende
It is a book showcasing Chilean culture and traditions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Brazil - a costal Lusophone country famous for the infamous, the "Torpedo" and the traffic.

 Colonized by Portugal, not Spain, The Republica Federativa do Brasil, a Lusophone country, (Portuguese speaking), is where men might ask for a date while stuck in traffic & get one! Brazil is where Supermodels, fancy beachfront hotels & beautiful people Samba in style. Brazilians are a traditional "Old European Society" (see post from August 12, 2020) who adhere to these manners and influences. 

A union of 26 States, Brazil is the size of the United States. They are a country of 200 million people. 90% of the population lives on 10% of the costal land. The Capital, Brazilia, has a population of 4.7 Million, Sao Paulo = 46 Million, & Rio de Janeiro, 17.5 Million. Don't refer to Brazilians as "Latins", but rather "Lusophones." Like many European countries, it is common for three generations of family to all live together, as family is the #1 priority. School is mandatory until age 14, with an 82% national literacy rate.

Brazil is the 10th largest economy in the world, however, income distribution in Brazil is extremely uneven. One third of Brazilians live under the poverty line. GDP is $8,727.00 USD. The currency is the Real (pronounced 'Ray-owl'). Portuguese is the official language. Spanish is understood but not spoken. 

Brazil is the world's largest producer of oranges. They are known for their coffee, cocoa, soy beans, bananas, beef, rice, cattle, pork, sugar, rubber, and corn. Their industry is cars, textiles, minerals, ship building, paper, wood products, and pharmaceuticals. 

Remember, Brazil's seasons are reversed. Brazil is a breezy tropical climate, so wear your bug spray always, a hat, and mind the sun. Travel websites have anti-mosquito bandanas and clothing. They also have clothing with hidden pockets and zippers to guard against pick-pockets. Wait for a sale and buy!

It is said there are more Italians in Brazil than Venice. The same is true for the multitudes of Lebanese in Sao Paulo. A class system society still exists & men comment and stare. Keep walking. 

"Carnival" is the week before Ash Wednesday. Don't plan on doing any business during Carnivale week or on Ash Wednesday. The entire country is either "hung over" or repenting! 

Some shops & businesses close from 12-2, as lunch is the main meal of the day. Most shops are open 6 days a week from 9:00 to 6:30, or later. Shops are closed on Sundays, but a few food markets may be open. Plan accordingly. Brazilians love to bargain too! Enjoy.

Dress code is feminine sexy chic for women with clean hair & manicured nails & toes. City chic for men, and long pants at night. Be sure to have clean shoes. Jeans must be clean & pressed. Do not wear green and yellow together (flag colors).  Dressing up a bit when traveling means you can go anywhere!

The #1 sport is soccer "Pele." Hang gliding is popular too. Games are friendly, warm & fun. Enjoy!

The ethnic make up of Brazil is extremely diverse: 47% White European "Brancos", 22% Mulatto, 12% Mestizo, 11% Black African, 150,000 Native American, and 1.1% Asian/Japanese. 

The "thumb's up" hand gesture is rude. The "Ok" gesture is acceptable. Rubbing your hands together means: "doesn't matter", but when abroad anywhere, it is probably better to stay away from all hand gestures all together! 

In meeting, take time to greet and say goodbye to everyone. Women kiss twice: once on each cheek if married, and three times if single. Brazilians maintain eye contact, stand & talk close & are touchy feely.

Good conversation includes Brazil's famous soccer team "futebol" and beautiful beaches. Don't mention politics, religion, poverty or rival Argentina. Never ask someone's age, salary or talk about money.

"Cafezinho" is Brazil's famous very strong coffee. All dining is in the Continental style. Dinner is late, from 8:00 - 10:00 pm. Wash your hands before eating. Also, take 2 pepto chews before eating. Never pick your teeth in public. Never touch your food with your hands, even grapes. It is tradition to ask someone if they would like drinks. 

The waiter is "Garcon." Ask for your check "A costa pro favor." Never eat and leave. Meals are to be enjoyed with friends and family. Hang out at least 1/2 an hour after dessert and enjoy. 

"Mate" or "Yerba Mate" (chimarrao) = a type of tea brewed from dried evergreen shrub leaves or Holly tree leaves. Cold Mate is common on Brazil's beaches. 

Breakfast is mostly Continental with fruit & "Cafe com Leite" (coffee with milk). Lunch is the main meal of the day, between 12-2. Brazil's national dish is "Feijoada" (beef, pork, sausage, tongue). Snacks may be served at 4:00pm, and consist of cookies, cakes, beverages and "Pao de Queijo." 

"Bife a cavalo com fritas" = meat with eggs & french fries. ""Betides" = sweet fruit beverage made with rum. "Americano" = ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato & fried eggs in a sandwich. "Churrasco" = charcoal broiled meats. "Aguardiente" = Brandy like drink made from sugarcane. "Pudim" = a flan dessert. 

A note from an admirer in a restaurant is called a "Torpedo." Be cordial but be aware. Always drink bottled water. Never eat uncooked or unpeeled food. Always take pepto chews before each meal. Wear mosquito repellent always. Travel websites have mosquito repellent clothing.  Buy on sale!

Tip the Taxi driver 10%. Tip the Porter $2 per bag. Tip the Maid $4 per day. Tip the waiter 5% cash at the end of the meal (hand it to him in person) because there will be a 10% Service charge on the bill. 

Carry your Passport & immigration permit always. Travel websites have annual sales on clothing with hidden pockets. Have patience in Brazil. You will always be in a line. Be aware of pick pockets, and especially at the airport.  Don't wear a watch or wear jewelry on the outside of your clothes. 

As of 1997, all Brazilian citizens are organ donors after death. Brazil is 73% Catholic, 20% Protestant, and the African Voodoo "Macumba" service on Friday night is not uncommon. 

Gift giving includes: gourmet chocolates, fine wines, champagne, aged Scotch, and products from the USA. For children, give hard candies, soccer themed gifts (T-shirts) and NBA hats. Very expensive gifts may be interpreted as bribes. Nice gift wrapping will be appreciated. Always open the gift in front of the giver. Send flowers before visiting a home for dinner. No purple flowers (funeral color). 

On New Year's Eve, locals throw lipstick, flowers and compact mirrors into the sea to celebrate the Patron Saint of Rivers and Sea named Yemanja (Lemanja). It's called: 

"Jumping 7 Waves."

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Bolivia - The Land of Pasankhalla & Pacena

 Popcorn "Pasankhalla" was originated in Bolivia. They also have many well known varieties of potatoes, the main staple of the Bolivian diet farmed by farmers called "Campesinos." Pacena is their famous beer. Spicy Salsa and BBQ are also common. Although voting is mandatory, and begins at 18, which is progressive, Bolivians adhere to Old European Manners (see post from August 12, 2020), so be sure to be very polite and use your magic words. 

Bolivia is a large country in central South America the size of Texas and California combined! It has 4 different geographical areas.  Altiplano is in the West. It's between the Andes & is a very high elevation where the temperatures are cold and dry. Yungas is in the North East which has a medium elevation. The Valles Region is in the South where there are hills and valleys. Oriente is in the lowlands where the grass lands are and tropical forests. So, it's best to layer! A thin, wool pashmina will be perfect! 

Population in Bolivia is 8 million, half of which is rural. Santa Cruz is 625K. Sucre is the Capital, but there are many government offices and international travelers in La Paz. GDP is $784USD per capita. Natural resources include Coca, sugarcane, coffee, soybeans and corn. Bolivians are known for their cattle, goats, sheep, petroleum, NG, tin, zinc, gold, iron, silver, timber and fish.

Language is Spanish & local Indian dialects. DO NOT wear traditional Indian clothing. Insulting. Ethnicity is multi-cultural, including 30% Mestizo, 30% Quechua, 25% Aymara, 15% European. Bolivia is a 95% Catholic country with indigenous beliefs and traditions. Multi-generations live together. Family is a #1 priority. Elders are revered. Women are traditionally homemakers. Dress is conservative. 

Waiving your index finger means "No." Street vendors and Taxi Drivers use the "so-so" hand gesture, which also means "No." The "fig" hand gesture is rude. Best to stay away from all hand gestures. 

Never eat while walking down a public street. Cover your mouth when yawning. Never whisper (rude) but keep your voice low. Never sit on a desk, table or ledge (rude). Slumping is rude. Avoid "Carnival" week to do business. Always carry your Passport. Sporting goods stores have clothing with hidden pockets. Watch for their sales! Drink bottled water only & carry chewable pepto bismol pills.

Education is valued, but only half of children finish 8th Grade. Literacy is 80%. Bolivians are close talkers. Eye contact is important. Bolivians are kind, gentle and concerned for the general welfare of others. Social identity is predicated upon one's family history and reputation.

Sports is a popular conversational topic. Do not talk about politics or religion. Do not praise Chile, Brazil or Paraguay (lost land in wars). Blend into the crowd as there are isolated terrorist attacks. 

High altitude and the hot sun can effect your balance and you can get dehydrated without realizing it. Carry a hat everywhere! Also, be very careful about your alcohol consumption. Chewing Coca leaves can help with altitude sickness. Coca leaves can also be drunk in tea. 

Eat in the Continental style only. Eat everything on your plate. Never touch your food with your hands. Complimenting food means you want more. Don't leave the table until everyone is finished. Breakfast is Continental: coffee, tea, bread & cheese. Lunch is the main meal, consisting of soup and a hot entree. This heavy lunch is why many stores are closed between Noon and 2:00pm. Most people go home for lunch and a nap (alnuerzo de hora). Tea and cakes are served at 4:00pm, and dinner is served late at 9:00pm. 

Traditional foods include: Quinoa (grain eaten by the poor), Huminta (tamales), Saltena (meat or chicken pie with potatoes, olives & raisins), Chuno (freeze dried potatoes added to soup & side dishes), Pasankhalla (popcorn, and San Pedro (white grape liquor). 

Friday nights are for men to go out and relax. Men are "Machismo." Women are secondary. 

Spanish "Magic Words" include: Yes = Si, No = No, Good Morning = Buenos dias, Good Evening = Buenos Noches, Hello = Hola, Goodbye = Adios, Please = Por favor. Thank you = Gracias, You're welcome = De Nada, I'm sorry = Lo Siento, Excuse me = Perdoneme, How are you = Como eta usted.

Gift Giving: pen & pencil sets, Fine Art from the US, Company logo gifts, coffee table books from your home region, fine wine or Whisky, gourmet chocolates, and hard candies for children. DO NOT give yellow or purple flowers, as these are funeral flowers. Open your gifts immediately. 

Bolivian currency is the Boliviano. It is divided into 100 Centavos. Always exchange your money before you leave with your local bank. This process takes about 3 weeks. Never exchange your money at an airport (rip off) or on the street (dangerous & you don't know what you are getting).

Tip the Porter $2 USD per bag. Tip the wait staff a small extra cash tip traditionally left on the table as a 10% service charge is included in the bill, and they are now paid a living wage. With a Taxi, ALWAYS ask what the price will be BEFORE entering the car. Tip the Maid $4 USD per day. 

Bolivians are warm, friendly people who appreciate you for who you are, 

not for what you have.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Medieval Kingdom of Belgium - Head of the EU and NATO

As well as their famous chocolates, did you know Renaissance architecture abounds in Old World Belgium? This small Kingdom, a bit larger than the State of Maryland, has 3 distinct regions: the Dutch-speaking Flanders Region, which used to be thought as the language of servants, French-speaking Wallonia Southern "High Court" Region and German-speaking community in the East. Chic Luxembourg is famous for its global banking. Belgians speak 3-4 languages well. Geographically, it is located around many major rivers. So, please use your best "European Old World Manners" (see post from August 12, 2020)

The Capital of this densely populated hereditary yet Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy is Brussels with a population of 1 million. Belgium has a population of 11.5 million. GDP is $50,115 per capita. 

Average temperatures are a mild 32-73 Degrees Fahrenheit. Winters can be foggy & Summers are cool. Best to layer. A fine, thin wool Pashmina is worth its weight in gold, as is a pocket, foldable travel umbrella. Currency is the Euro. Natural Resources are coal, NG, marble, slate, and sandstone.

Belgians are known for working hard and playing hard. They are socially reserved and aloof until you get to know them a bit. Family life is multi-generational and strong. 

90% of Belgians are Roman Catholic, so don't discuss religion, money, politics or personal matters. 

Language for Business is English. Dress is conservative. Women hold their hands out first for handshaking, go first with introductions and stand for introductions. Repeat your name when being introduced. Use formal last names and proper titles until invited to use first names. Shake hands with everyone upon greeting and departing. Be punctual. Gentlemen, stand up when a woman enters the room or gets up from the table. Accept a drink offered by your host. 

Dress is casual chic. When traveling, always look clean and pressed. No bra straps showing or halter tops. No dirty sandals or dirty feet. No shorts in the evenings. Speak softly. Fitting in is key. Do not blow your nose, pick your teeth or scratch your head in public. Rude! 

Toasts: "A Votre Sante" (French for: To your health), and "Op uw rezoned head" (Dutch for: To your health). Brussels has more 5 star restaurants than anywhere else in Europe, other than in France. 

Eat in the Continental Style only. Keep your wrists onto of the table (still a trust issue dating back to the 14th Century when those wanting to kill the King hid knives up their sleeves at the dinner table). The fish course will have fish knife and fork. To beckon a waiter, raise your hand and make eye contact. 

Table tipping is not required as a 15% charge is added to your bill. It is tradition to leave a bit of extra cash on the table for great service, or you may want to hand it directly to the server. Finish all the food on your plate. The female guest of honor will be seated next to the host. Relax and have nice conversation for an hour after your meal ends with a coffee or rum. Meals are to be enjoyed! Tip the Maid 3 Euros per day. Tip the Porter 2 Euros per bag. Tip the Restroom Usher 2 Euros.  

Breakfast "Petite Dejeuner" is Continental. Lunch "Dejuener" is cold cuts, sandwiches, fruit, and rolls. Dinner "Diner" is a multi-course meal: appetizer, soup, fish, sherbet (cleanses the pallet) main course (meat), salad last, then dessert, which may be fruit and cheese. Coffee is served AFTER dessert and may be in a living or sitting room, or out on a nice porch, and gentlemen may smoke cigars. 

Local cuisine includes mussels, eels, pork, lamb stew, beef cooked in beer, rabbit cooked in wine, stewed chicken, game, fish, cheese and fruit. 

The "W. C." is the restroom: "Dames" (F) and "Hommes" (M). Hot water = "Chaude." Cold = "Froide." Be careful, as these spigots may be reversed (hot on the right and cold on the left). 

Gift Giving includes: famous Belgian chocolates, local coffee table books from your home region, fine Scotch, and lovely flowers (not chrysanthemums - funeral flowers). Do not give extravagant gifts. Could be considered a bribe. Do not give personal gifts (bath products or perfume). These gifts are for lovers and family only. 

"Vinkensport" is an old Flanders game played to see how many songs 

a caged Finch can sing in an hour.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Australia - Independent and Casual, with 3 Time Zones!

 In 1770, Captain James Cook named Australia "The New South Wales." It's the world's largest Island. A vast and wild land. Australia has 3 time zones. There is no sales tax. Gold was discovered in Australia in 1852. They also have 600+ fine wines, a source of national pride. Many of these wineries are located in the popular Barossa Vally and make great Hostess gifts! Even with Australia's Western style economy, it's surprisingly an "Old World European" society (see post from August 12, 2020), where respect is based on your achievements, not on who your family is, or your educational level. Please be sure to use your best Old European Manners and do not compare Australians to the British.   

Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, and is 3 million square miles with a population of 19 million. 85% of the population lives in urban cities. Melbourne has a population of 3.5M, Sydney 3.7M, Brisbane 1.4M, Perth 1.25M, and 330,000 live in Canberra. GDP is $23,600 USD per capita.

As a British Colony, Australia is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II currently as Sovereign, but the head of the government is the Prime Minister.

 Natural resources include: coal, copper, iron, lead, zinc, tin, uranium, crude oil, NG, and gold! Australia is the #1 producer of wool in the world. They are known for their delicious meats, sugar, fine wines, fruit and "shrimp on the barbie." 

Although Australians have an independent attitude, in conversation, don't argue, as it is considered rude. Stay away from all hand gestures, especially the "thumb's up" gesture, as it is considered to be obscene. Keep your hands out of your pockets other than to make change. Europeans wonder what you are doing in there! Also, speak quietly. Do not be loud or boisterous. Do not get drunk at the Pub. Rude! 

Weather is tropical and dry. The sun is intense! Wear sunscreen, UV clothing & always wear a hat. Australia's beautiful & many beaches are marked "Family" & "Topless." Always pay attention to the flags on the beach and ALWAYS swim within those boundaries. Mind the beach where you pick to swim. Waters can have crocks, sharks and stingers.  Mind the tides which can change very quickly and become dangerous rip tides. Do Not litter on any beach. Speaking of wild life, be very careful around kangaroo's and Koala's. They are, after all, wild animals. Never, ever hike alone. 

The multi-cultural ethnic make up of Australia is: 25% Australian, 15.8% Aboriginal, 26% British, 3.3% Italian, 7.5% Irish, 6.4% Scotish, 3.1% Chinese and 2% each Indian, Dutch, Greek and New Zealander. 

Religion is reported to be 26% Roman Catholic, 13% Anglican, Protestant 23%, Hindu 2%, Muslim 2.6% and 30% unspecified. While more diversified than in the past, best not to talk about religion. 

Dress is smart casual. Look pressed & tucked in, not sloppy with dirty shoes. When out in the evenings, Ladies, please, no bra straps showing or tube tops. Gentlemen, please wear long pants & collared shirts. 

Popular Sports include Cricket, soccer, surfing "Footy" (Australian rules football) & Rugby. Australians have a great sense of humor, are adventuresome, have strong opinions, so always be a good sport. They are family oriented. Friendly. Communication is direct, but don't shout. NEVER wink at a woman.

Hand shaking is 2 firm shakes, then down. A woman offers her hand first. Women "Air kiss." Use formal names until invited to do otherwise. Conveniently, "Ms." is preferred over Miss or Mrs. 

Cover your mouth when yawning. Women DO NOT stand at the Bar. Gentlemen, this is your time to shine. Order your women friends a "1/2 Pint" at the Bar, and bring it to them at your table. Men can order "A Pint."  Scotch Whisky is popular. Use quiet hand gestures to summon a waiter. 

English Breakfast of sausage, bacon, ham, tomato, egg, toast & jam, is traditional and is served between 7:30am-8:30am. Continental breakfast is later and popular too. "Elevensees" tea is 10:30am-11:00am. Lunch is between 12:00-2:00. Afternoon Tea is 4:00-5:00. Dinner is 6:00pm-8:00pm. Eat in the Continental style only. Don't say: "I'm stuffed" after a meal. This means you are pregnant.

Tipping is not widespread. Wait staff are paid a living wage. Tip the waiter 10% if the service is excellent. Enjoy Australia's varied ethnic cuisine and famous seafood, "John Dory" local fish, rock oysters and Victorian "rabbis" (like lobster), "carpetbagger steak" (beef stuffed with oysters & lamb). Try "Veggiemite" but NOT with jelly. "White coffee" is coffee with milk. 

Toasts are "Bottoms Up"and "Cheers." Do not drink a toast to yourself, but rather smile and sit quietly. Do visit a Pub, but don't talk too much or too loud, and don't brag. Also important to NOT drink too much. This behavior is considered unacceptable and rude.  

When taking a Taxi, sit in the front seat and round up the tip for the driver. Tip the Maid $4 per day. Tip the Porter $2 per bag. If you ride the bus, when exiting, thank the bus driver.  

Currency is the Australian dollar, with the same denomination as the American dollar. Always exchange your money before you leave. Takes about 3 weeks at your local bank. Never exchange money with a street vendor. You don't know if they are legitimate and/or you will get a worse rate of exchange.

Say "Koala's" instead of Koala Bears." Do not imitate "G-Day." Considered rude. Say Good Day instead. Also, don't discuss the Kangaroo "Chew the Rho" as it's a controversial delicacy.

"Cutting down the tall poppy" is an expression used to describe those persons who, for no particular reason but jealousy, put down others for their successes or achievements. 

Gift Giving includes: fresh flowers, fine chocolates, coffee table books or specialty foods from your home region (i.e. Virginia peanuts), and crafts.

Remember: Treat everyone as equals. Don't compare Australians to the British. 


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Yes, "Thank You" notes even work up in the sky!

 WOW! Yes, even a "Thank You" note on an airplane is effective, and nice! Well done flight crew! 

Argentina - A Silver Land of Horses, Leather Saddles and "Good Air"


Argentina, meaning "silver" is its own country in South America. It is said: "Argentines are a nation of Italians who speak Spanish and think they are British living in Paris." Argentina has had 2 female Presidents. They invented Radio Broadcasting and continue to have the largest film industry in the Spanish speaking world. 

Argentina is the size of the USA. It is also the second largest South American country. The sea region is the lowest at 138 feet below sea level. Argentina's Capital of 12 million people is Buenos Aires, meaning "good air" and Buenos Aires is modeled after Paris, France! Argentina's total population is 34 million.  The proper name for citizens there is "Argentines", not the adjective "argentine." Residents of Buenos Aires are referred to as "Portenos." Also, Argentina is an Old European society, and they use Old European manners, so when visiting, please use these fine, formal manners and be open to new ideas!  (refer to "Old European Manners" post from August 12, 2020).   

Argentina is 1/3 grasslands. Their abundant natural resources include zinc, copper, petroleum, uranium, gold, silver, and oil. They farm sheep, soybeans, sugar, wheat, cattle and grapes (good wines). Argentina is known for their exquisite equestrian leather goods, horses and beef. Their government is a Federal Republic. Before World War II, Argentina was the 6th richest nation in the world. Argentina's GDP is $8,500.00 per capita. Their history dates back to the Paleolithic period and is diverse in culture. 

Argentines are 93% Catholic. They speak the dialect of Castile, Spain. Trying a few magic words in Spanish is much appreciated. Ask "Hablo Castellano" instead of "Hablo Espanol." The public is well educated. The literacy rate is 96%. Family is paramount and family values are old world conservative. School and University are free. Languages spoken are Spanish, French, Italian and German. The Ethnic make up is 75% European and 25% Mestizo (a classification used to refer to a person of combined White and Indigenous American ancestry). The term "Mestizo was used for mixed race "castes" during the Spanish Empire.

Argentina is famous for the Tango and their infamous nightclubs. Take one simple lesson and learn the Tango if you can! Theatre and opera are also very popular. Dress is savvy city chic (black) and gentlemen wear jackets and long pants in the evenings. Women dress conservatively. Arrive 30-60 minutes late to any party, but not to a dinner party. Do not discuss religion, and Evita Peron is either loved or hated, so best not to discuss politics either. Do not talk about the Falkland Islands. Do not  criticize anyone in public. Considered very rude! Talk about the weather, soccer, and how Buenos Aires is so "European!"   

Eye contact is very important. When shaking hands, nod. Air kisses are between friends only. Argentinians are close talkers and touchers. Do not stand or speak with your hands on your hips. Cover your mouth when yawning. Index finger around your ear means "crazy." Hitting the palm of your left hand with your right fist means "stupid" or "I don't believe you." Best to stay away from all hand gestures, and gentlemen, please do not walk around with your hands in your pockets. Pants pockets are for making change only. Considered rude or obscene. Do not lean on a counter or chair. 

Popular sports are soccer, horse racing and polo called "Pato," their official National sport.  Many horse enthusiasts visit Argentina to peruse and purchase Argentina's famous leather saddles and bridals. Do not eat or drink while walking in public or on a public street. Do not blow your nose or pick your teeth in public. Stay away from all hand gestures. When out at restaurants, order the local alcohol as imports are very expensive. Argentinian wine is also a point of national pride! Do not wear native costumes. 

To beckon a waiter, "seƱor", raise your hand with your index finger extended. In many cafes, cupping your hands means you want a cup of coffee. Breakfast is late as everyone loves to sleep in! Lunch is the main meal. Tea is at 4:00. Dinner starts around 9:00 p.m. Eat in the Continental style only. Argentines traditionally eat Gnocchi on the 29th of each month as this was when most people were paid. Enjoy Gnocchi Day! Many fabulous Italian recipes to try, write down and take home! Tip the waiter 10%. Tip the maid $5 USD per day. Tip the Porter $2 USD per bag. The currency is the Peso. 1 Peso = 100 Centavos. Carry around small bills and some change. When paying the Taxi driver, do not ask for change. Watch for pickpockets. Don't cross the street as traffic will not yield. "Props" = flirtatious comments and are common, so simply say "Thank you" and keep on walking. Be on time for a meeting.

Magic words include: Yes = "Si Gracias," No = "No," Hello = "Hola," Goodbye = Adios, Good Morning = "Buenos Dias," Good Evening = "Buenos Noches," You're Welcome = "De Nada," Pleased to meet you = "Encantado," How are you = "Como eta usted?," On the dot = "En punto."  

Carne asada = beef steak. Asado = BBQ (beef and lamb). Gauchos BBQ = whole cow. Asado con cure = roasted beef in its hide over an open fire pit. Empanadas = pastries stuffed with meat/ham/chicken/seafood/eggs/olives/veggies/rasins/cheese. The Empanadas is basically the Argentinian version of "Pasties" from Cornwall, UK. Pucheros = stews. Cocro = a native stew of meat, corn & potatoes. Mate = national beverage (tea brewed from Holly tree). Drink bottled water (malaria).

Gift giving includes pretty flowers, fine chocolates, candy or gourmet cookies. Nice Scotch. Coffee table books. Do not give extravagant gifts as this may be interpreted as a bribe. Do not give personal items such as perfume, soaps or bath products.  Open your gift in front of the giver at once and thank them! Write a "Thank you" note as soon as possible. 

    Don't rush your conversation. The person is more important than the hour.