Ariel Williams ’16
Our Argentine adventure began early -3:30 a.m. to be exact- when we landed in Buenos Aires on Saturday morning. I was exhausted, but also I was too anxious to sleep as I was excited to get started on some of the activities we had planned for the next two days. Below are a few of the highlights from our first two days of cultural immersion.
Our first activity began with a tour around the northern part of the city. Buenos Aires is quite large with 48 neighborhoods or barrios. We first stopped at the Casa Rosada (the Pink House), which is similar to the White House as it serves as the president’s headquarters. This is where Eva Perron, one of Argentina’s most iconic political figures worked (this is also where Madonna filmed the biopic Evita!). Unlike the White House, the Casa Rosada is only for government work as the President lives elsewhere in the city. The area around the Casa Rosada is primarily used for demonstrations – much like the National Mall in the United States.
La Casa Rosada
While on our tour of the city, we also stopped at Buenos Aires’ most popular tourist attraction – La Recoleta Cemetery. This cemetery is quite distinct as the grave sites are mainly vaults and mausoleums. It is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world as the different grave sites reflect a number of architectural styles. These graves hold some of Argentina’s richest and most prominent families including the Eva Peron and her family. Accordingly, the cost to own a plot is literally some of the country’s most expensive real estate and some of the mausoleums have costed more than $1M USD to complete.
La Recoleta Cemetery
We began our day with a boat tour of the Tigre Delta, a river delta that flows into the Rio de la Plata and the Rio Parana. This delta is one of the largest in the world and is unique because it does not empty into an ocean or sea. The destination is reminiscent of the belle-epoque era and many of the structures we saw built alongside of the delta reflected this fact. Today, the area has once again attracted many visitors to its shores as we saw a lot of vacation homes on the river banks.
Tigre Delta Boat Tour
Following, the delta tour, many of us heading toward a polo ranch to learn about the business and how to play the game of polo. Argentina is home most of the world’s best polo players. While polo is not nearly as popular as soccer, is well regarded throughout the country and around the world. I have to admit, I was a little nervous playing polo as I had not ridden a horse in many years. The fact that we had to hold a polo mallet while riding a horse and playing a match seemed like an ambitious goal (not to mention it was also raining when we arrived)! However, the sun cleared up and we had a great opportunity to tour the fields (fun fact #1:more than nine soccer fields fit into one polo field!).
First, our instructors taught us about game strategy, the different techniques used to swing the mallets. Then they had us practice with the mallets (san horses!). Once we had “mastered” our mallet technique we each had the opportunity to get on a horse and attempt (I had many, many attempts) to hit the ball while on the horse. Watching everyone on the horses was quite comical – to think professionals do this riding at top speed is really impressive. I enjoyed learning about the game and spending time with the horses. Fun fact #2: more than 200 horses were at the polo ranch! Additionally, to play a full match, a single player needs on average 4-8 horses!
Polo Horses (!)
We concluded our day with a Tango show. This show took us through the history of tango in Argentina and reflected a number of different periods in Argentina’s history beginning with the late 19th century. As a dancer, I really enjoyed watching a style of dance I’ve never seen performed. The dancing was full of drama and the footwork was incredibly intricate. My only regret was that I didn’t have the opportunity to take a lesson myself! I’ll keep this in mind for my inevitable return to Buenos Aires.
Now that we’ve had several days of cultural immersion, I look forward to visiting with top Argentine firms and understanding Argentina’s business climate.