Dear member of the G20 delegation:
So, you’re coming to Buenos Aires for the summit this week. First of all, let me start by saying we’re sorry about the whole River-Boca fiasco. I assure you, this was a one-time thing… Well, to be honest, it happens all the time in this country, so it’s not really a one-time thing. But we are taking measures this upcoming weekend, safety precautions that obviously include not playing any football because that apparently cannot be done in this country without some sort of violence erupting. Any other sport is cool. But I digress.
Since this might be your first time in Buenos Aires, we at The Bubble have decided to prepare a starter kit upon your arrival, so that you can dive headfirst into Argentine culture from the get-go. Keep in mind that this is just a symbolic list of items; our team won’t *actually* be on hand at the airport to greet you. Budgetary restraints and security clearances will unfortunately keep us from handing this kit to you in person. I know, we’re bummed too. But we do love you and we assure you that this will give you a general idea of what to keep an eye out once you’re here, in the time that you’re not immersed in G20 related activities (which I’m guessing should be around 15 minutes during the whole weekend or something?).
Just keep in mind that we had to leave some really important stuff out like choripanes because I honestly don’t think anybody in their right mind wants to have one of those bad boys just sitting cold inside a Welcome Bag. Same principle applies to stuff like facturas and pizzas.Without further ado, let’s get started!
I’m not sure what the policy for mate is during G20 meetings, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that nothing good could come out of any sort of business reunion in this country without mate having some sort of role. So let’s hope that somebody thought this through at some point. We’ve written extensively about the ritual of mate before, but here’s a quick recap: it’s made of yerba mate, a tree found in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina; the plant’s leaves are picked, dried, processed, and packaged. Then, they’re usually consumed in a small container which is constantly filled with hot water that is ingested via a metal straw called a bombilla.
Down here, mate is more than just a tea-like beverage. It’s an excuse for social bonding at school, at college, at work, at a friend’s house and of course, during a world-altering summit between global leaders… Mate is pretty much everywhere. The kit includes the mate (the gourd-like container), the bombilla, a bag of yerba mate and a 50-page instruction booklet on the dos and don’ts of mate culture, prepared by a 70-year-old mate purist called Nestor or Luisa. Spoiler alert: DO NOT STIR THE BOMBILLA.
A 2TB hard drive filled with Peronista history
We actually thought about including just a book, or maybe a pen drive, that explains Perón’s influence in not only the Argentine political landscape of the last 70 years, but Argentine idiosyncrasy overall. But, as you might expect, it’s just not that easy. Peronismo is an intricate and complex beast, and for that reason we’ve added a 2TB hard drive to your kit, one that includes a truck load of e-books, about two week’s worth of documentaries, and thousands of hours of scholars just blabbing and blabbing about Perón non stop.
It also has a folder with hundreds of covers of la marcha peronista including Diego’s own. Even though this item as a whole is quite thorough, it’s probably still virtually impossible for you to get a real understanding about what Peronismo really is. Confused? Welcome to the world of Peronismo.
An official Mexico ’86 jersey
For all the fandom around football in this country, it’s kind of hard to believe it’s been 32 years (and counting) since Argentina last won a World Cup. A lot has changed in this country during this time (Maradona has lived the equivalent of five or six different life spans ever since, it seems) but Mexico ’86 still remains the last true great glorious moment for hinchas of the albiceleste. So there are two ways of handling this despair. One is to moan and groan about the good old days, comparing anything that has happened since to what Diego and the boys did back then. The other way is to moan and groan WHILE wearing this cool slick vintage jersey.
We’ve selected the latter, and have included the garment in your welcome pack, along with a downloadable ringtone for your phone featuring the original commentary from Maradona’s epic goal against England. Oh, and a pamphlet with a brief explanation of what exactly a barrillete cósmico actually means.
Another 2TB hard drive, but this one with Argentine Rock
Yeah, tango is cool and all. And don’t worry, odds are quite high that you will be treated to some sort of tango show with that woman that danced with Obama several years back. But have you heard of rock nacional? It’s kind of a big thing all over Latin America and has had massive influence in pretty much the whole region for several decades now. Charly García, Fito Paez, Spinetta, Soda Stereo… These are household names, and you should do yourself a favor and begin to get acquainted with each one of them.
That’s why we’ve included this hard drive with most of their discography. We’ve also decided to put in a little Gilda, Rodrigo, and surprise Lollapalooza invitee La Mona Jiménez, just for fun. You’ll thank us later, believe me.
A bottle of Fernet (and one of Coca Cola, obviously)
The popular choice here would be wine, but we’re pretty sure you’ll be able to drink lots of that at most of the fancy events. To be honest, Fernet is actually from Europe, so technically Argentines have only adopted it. But don’t be fooled, it has become a staple of the Argentine nightlife and an a perennial guest during asados. It is here, for example, that Fernet met its unmistakeable partner in crime: Coca Cola.
So, we’ve decided to include a pack that includes a bottle of Fernet accompanied by the famous soft drink to mix, meaning you only have to take care of the ice. We also added one of those cool glasses with the measures printed on them so that there’s no chance in hell you can screw this one up. Quick tip: it’s spelled fernet but pronounced FERNÉ, without the t.
Porteño Spanish App
Boludo, qué quilombo con la mina en el bondi.
No clue what happened there, right? Well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Because believe it or not, there is an App called Porteño Spanish which actually teaches you the particularities of the Spanish language spoken in Buenos Aires. It goes deep in its research too, offering a dictionary of words in Lunfardo, Argentine slang that comes from a mixture of Italian immigration, neighboring Brazilian Portuguese, and underworld elements.
We actually wrote about it before in our Top 10 Apps to Download When Arriving to Argentina so we have a lot of faith in what it can do for you. Re piola.
A Capitán del Espacio alfajor
Local snacks are a must to engage with the locals. They symbolize an important part of their childhoods, they take part in their moments of sweet and guilty indulgence, they are perennial friends that will not judge you. And there’s probably no snack more famous in this country than the alfajor. Step into any kiosko and you’ll find an overwhelming array of different alfajores, some branded by massive names like Oreo, some of the highest quality like Havanna and Cachafaz. But none of them has the kind of history and cult following that Capitán del Espacio has.
We’ve actually written extensively about this in the past, so I’m just going to leave this here. But suffice to say, you will score lot of points with Argentines by name dropping el Capitán, something no other snack can achieve. We have also included several other local snacks such as the Bananita Dolca, Marroc, Tita, and Rhodesia for you to enjoy.
Well, there you have it. The items in this kit are sure to help you jump start any conversation in Argentina and will make you look like somebody who understands what they’re talking about. I can just picture it now: you, a foreigner, drinking mate and munching on an alfajor, while Soda Stereo comes out of your headphones and you talk about the historical contradictions of Peronismo. You can thank us later.