Tuesday, May 1, 2018

So Your Character is From Argentina ... Featuring Sofia Leguiza @ A Book. A Thought. & Consuelo @ Paper-Eyed Girl

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's  So Your Character is from Hungary ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

Hi everyone! First, I want to thank Victoria for the opportunity to be part of this great project. My name is Sofia Leguiza and I'm from Argentina. I'm 23 years old, I'm a cosmetology student, and a passionate reader, in fact, I have a book blog, which I started a year ago and I consider it my baby, it really makes me very happy and I've met wonderful people thanks to it. I live more specifically in the city of Colon, in the province of Entre Rios, a not a very big place, but highly touristy and with very beautiful beaches.

My name is Consuelo. I’m Argentine from birth but I’ve also lived in Spain for half my life. I feel like this helped me to see the beauty in everyday life and notice how special Argentina can be. I’m proud of my country and I’d love to see more of it in mainstream media.

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Sofia: I'll name only some of the thousands of festivities and celebrations that are held annually in my country. I'll summarize those that I think stand out more and are more popular. We have several annual celebrations. Carnivals, two of the most important are held in Corrientes and Entre Rios, These events are super popular and a lot of people travel from different parts of the country to attend.

We also have The National Beer Festival - Oktoberfest Argentina, and it is held annually during two weekends in Villa General Belgrano, Province of Córdoba. The party starts at noon and lasts until late at night. The public enjoys the show, being able to taste different varieties of beer and traditional foods.

And to finish, one of my favorites, Parana Costume Party, it's undoubtedly one of the biggest events of the year. Not only do thousands of people come from different provinces of the country to attend to this party, but also many people from outside the country as well. It's really massive.

Consuelo: My country is unique in the sense that we are very passionate about everything we do. We invented tango, which is a sensual dance with sad lyrics of how we miss home, and it’s bad***. We are ride or die with our football teams and will fight anyone who disses the national team (though we do it often enough). If you’ve met an Argentinian then you know, we put ourselves in everything we do. 

I can’t think of a specific celebration since the country is huge but we are big on patriotic dates and we cook special meals for the occasions.

As for landmarks, we have one of the most beautiful and diverse environments in the world and just to name a couple we have the Iguazú Waterfalls and the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Perito Moreno Glacier
Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
Sofia: We have a warm/humid climate here. I think that little by little the climate is starting to be more tropical. I feel that in our country we're lucky to have many beautiful landscapes. We can jump from one landscape in different types of green to one totally white by snow and that is wonderful. Some of the most beautiful places are:

 Las Cataratas del Iguazu Bariloche
And of course, our beaches: 

Consuelo: Honestly, one of the best things in Argentina is that we have EVERY climate possible. The shape of the country encompasses as many climates as possible, from north to south. On the north, we have the jungle while n the south we are almost to Antarctica (we also have a piece of Antarctica but that’s a bit harder to get to). From east to west we have the Andes with all the mountain climates you can imagine (and a few volcanoes) with plains in the middle and then beaches all the way down. As you travel you see all the different kinds of scenery there is, you have plains but also all the different plain and you have mountains with eternal snow and deep forests and deserts and jungles.

Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Sofia: In Argentina, we're very well known for our meat, mainly for the "Asado" which is when you cook many different types of meat on the grill. That's what basically it is.

The Empanadas are a well know dish here. Another that is also very traditional and tends to be filled with different fillings depending on the province (meat, chicken, vegetables.), so there are many varieties.

And finally, I can't stop mentioning "Dulce de Leche." This is for those who don't know what it is. It's like a very sweet product made of milk. I know it's very vague but I wouldn't know how to explain exactly what it is. It looks similar to the famous Nutella but doesn't taste the same. If you've never tried it, it's very difficult to explain. It's used mostly for stuffing cakes and making alfajores or any type of desserts.

Consuelo: There are two foods that every Argentinian loves: Empanadas and Dulce de leche. The empanadas are savory and can have any kind of filling according to your tastes, the most common ones are beef or ham and cheese. Dulce de leche is more known around the world and it’s super sweet and thick.

Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?

Sofia: This is a difficult one.  Here the main language and the only one is Spanish, so as I know that most of you speak English I wouldn't know how to explain the different types of expressions. Even so, I believe that we have a lot of words for the same things, a lot of verbs, and a lot of adjectives and if there isn't a word we invented it lol. I'm ashamed to say that in my country people curse a lot, not in a vulgar way or anything, but there are words that are bad words but are used every day as if they were common. It's so weird to explain. We're good people, guys lol.

Consuelo: There are a lot of things that don’t mean what they should… for example the verb most countries use to mean catch (“coger”) has a dirtier non-pg13 meaning in Argentina. Also, every other word means “p***y” for some reason.

For a more age-appropriate answer, Latin American countries have such differences in slang that there was a video about how it’s impossible to speak Spanish fully because as soon as you learn a specific country’s then you are wrong everywhere else.

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
Sofia: Well, the Argentines start the day around 6 in the morning, depending on the work. In the most common jobs, the entry time is more or less than 7 to 8, and the normal working day is 8 hours. People here use a lot of public transport to go to work, study, or any activity. It will always change depending on the city. I personally live in a small city with few inhabitants so here you can just walk everywhere, not like in the big cities where there are many more people like in Buenos Aires. 

After work everyone returns to their house and to have lunch or eat something in the afternoon, depending on the arrival time. People here in my city go downtown to walk and see shops or the beach. That kind of thing. At night, dinner is served at approximately 22 or 23 (10pm or 11pm), which I understand is later than in other countries, but here we have a lot of nightlife and people go out to eat out, especially on weekends. On Sundays, families usually come together for lunch or dinner, it's a very typical custom here.

Consuelo: (DISCLAIMER: I’m from the capital and it’s wildly different from the rest of Argentina)

Wake up around 6-7 am and take the public transport closest to you (train for me) because there’s no way you are parking in Buenos Aires. Usually, you start working at 8 or 9. Lunchtime is at noon or one pm, it’s a full course meal so you can keep going. Then at 5, it’s tea time, you eat either a croissant or a sandwich or just coffee but you eat something. Then keep working until 7 and back home. Dinner is around 9 (I have no idea how people can eat dinner earlier than that tbh) and you keep messing around on the computer or with friends until you feel like going to sleep.

Buenos Aires

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Sofia: The first difference that comes to my mind is culture. In Argentina, we're very close to each other. We always say hi with a kiss even among men. We also give lots of hugs. The truth is that I feel that we like to feel that confidence when we're with the other. For me, it's something natural but I would describe it as a sign of trust, respect, and love. I have known foreigners who come to visit my country and this is the first thing that catches their attention. We're also very passionate in many aspects. If we like something, we love it and if we don't like something, we hate it, you know? I feel that the Argentines are very extreme in that aspect.

Politically we're in a phase of change right now. We just changed the president and we're going through a difficult time since the previous government was very corrupt, and because of this, we're having many increases in our prices, from food to medicines. I have faith that soon we'll be better again, but I think we're in a politically tense time right now.

Consuelo: You all go out (like to party) so early? I’d be watching a tv show and suddenly it’s 2 am and everyone is going home. Here in Argentina the party STARTS at 2 am and goes on until sunrise. No one goes out at 10 pm, that’s almost dinner time.

We have public universities that are 100% free of charge. There’s a huge debate online about how classicist higher education is, but it’s really not. Here if you want to keep studying you can just do that. There are no fees and the schedules adjust to whatever you need so you can work or attend to your responsibilities and study at the same time.

Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.

Sofia:  Veterans Day and the Fallen in the Malvinas War - April 2: Between April and June 1982, the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom culminated in a new British occupation of the island territory. In the year 2000, the Congress of the Argentine Nation declared April 2 as the Veterans Day and the Fallen in the Malvinas War, as a national holiday.
Independence Declaration - July 9: In 1816, the Congress meeting in Tucumán resolved to treat the Declaration of Independence, thus proclaiming the existence of a new nation "free and independent of the Spain kings and of all other foreign domination."
Flag Day - June 20: The Argentine flag was raised for the first time on February 27, 1812 on the banks of the Paraná River by General Manuel Belgrano. It is said that its creator was inspired by the tone of the sky or the mantle of the Virgin for the choice of colors, but in reality they were the celestial and the white of the rosette (which was already used at that time) which finally they were captured in the national pavilion. On July 20, 1816, the Congress officially adopted the flag designed by Belgrano as a national symbol. In 1918, a sun was added to the white stripe to be used in case of war. In 1938 was declared on June 20 as Flag Day and national holiday, in tribute to its creator, who died on June 20, 1820.

Consuelo: You can’t talk about a historical event in Argentina and not talk about Perón. He was a president chosen right after world war II and he was the most impactful politician. He is controversial in the way that everyone has their own opinion about him, you won’t meet an Argentinian who doesn’t feel strongly about him. 

The direct result of the previous one, the last military dictatorship. It was literal hell, we had the army take control (by decree of the vice-president who happened to be Perón’s last wife) of the country. They had, thanks to the US, panic for the communists and acted out a kind of cruelty never seen before. They would take suspected communists (usually young people in university or even high school) and kidnap them. I’d rather not go into detail but the fact is that they did unspeakable things and, sadly, young people started to retaliate with terrorist acts. They started small, with kidnappings and ransoms but by the time it all blew up they were setting bombs everywhere and killing children just to prove their point.

The last thing happened while the previous was going on; the Malvinas war. In an attempt to gain back the people’s support the army generals decided to do something to establish themselves as strong. They decided to take back the Malvinas Islands. They are a small archipelago off the coast of Argentina that the English decided looked nice so they took over. This was, of course, a stupid decision since Argentina DID NOT have the means to fight freaking Britain. Imagine how terrible were the soldiers’ conditions that the first thing British soldiers did when they captured one of ours gave them a blanket and some warm food. This is the main reason why we hate British people on principle.

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Sofia: It bothers me a lot when I hear that some people say that Argentines are arrogant or egocentric. I know that it is a stereotype that is used a lot to describe us, but personally, I don't feel that we are this way. I recognize that we're very proud of who we are and what we have, but this doesn't mean that we're egocentric. Even so, there are egotistic people here as there are in other countries and there are super humble people like there are in other places too. I feel that what really bothers me is the generalization of using one word to describe millions of people just because they live in the same country. I think it's not fair, that's all.

Consuelo: The most obvious one is that were are arrogant and full of ourselves but that’s true so it doesn’t really bother me. The other is that we are obsessed with football (or soccer depending on where you are) but that’s also true. We are also loud and speak very fast but that’s just the way we are, I guess.

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?

Sofia: I don't know of many portrayals of Argentina in books or series. I only know that a scene of our country appears in X-Men: First Class, and as a fan, I feel super happy about it lol. But there is not much more or really I don't know if there are.

Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?

Sofia: Oh I'm so sorry but I can't answer this one, there aren't fictional characters that are native to my country or at least not of movies that I see or books that I read, but I would love to! I feel it would be great to see some character, well-interpreted, that is Argentine.


Thank you, Sofia and Consuelo, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Grenada!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.

Do you have any characters from Argentina? Did this inspire you to write an Argentine character or set a book in Argentina? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Sofia and Consuelo? Be sure to thank them!

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