Welcome on the third article of « Draw-me » series!

This new article is all about Argentina!

The series “Draw Me ” stemming from the project Yakoilabas, it is the result of the Quinson’s pupils in front of the World.
You can find the information on our two series in links with the School of Quinson: Draw me and Tell Me You by clicking the respective links.
Draw me Argentina is the second episode of the series in South America, you can find our articles about New Zealand and Bolivia by clicking the links.

We left with a list of questions concerning the country, the inhabitants, the art and the legends and it is by numerous exchanges that we answered their curiosity. We suggest you at first to follow the researches and the discoveries which we sent to the pupils and secondly to discover their works. Enjoy the reading!

Researches and discoveries

The country

« What is the meaning of the flag? How are built their houses? What looks like the country? » The curiosity of the children has no limits, these questions are a part of many more we ask while crossing a new country. The Argentina left us good impressions, Argentinians too even if the country is crossing an important economic crisis. In any case, it did not prevent to us from leaving in search of answers!

We begin with the flag of Argentina made up of two blue sky horizontal strips surrounding a white one. There is a sun in the center of the white strip.

The legend would want that Manuel Belgrano creates this flag in 1812 by looking at the sun in front of the coast of Paraná, since the city of Rosario.

However, a more realistic explanation is that, as many of the other Latin American countries and former Spanish colonies, Argentina was against the invasion of Spain by Napoleon. So, to show their solidarity with Spain, it was decided to use the Bourbons’ colors, family to which belongs king of Spain: the blue sky and the white.

In the case of Argentina, a sun was added in its center, making a reference to the inca gods. This sun has moreover a peculiarity: a beam on two is straight, and a beam on two is waved. The straight beams rather remind the European representation, whereas the wavy beams, rather remind the Inca traditional representation.

The constructions modes vary enormously according to places. In cities we find brick-built constructions, concrete or adobe. Bricks are not visible any more as in Bolivia because walls are painted or plastered, signs of a richer country. In countrysides we find constructions in cob, mixture of earth and straw and roofs in sheet steel, straw or also in tile.

And because Yakoilabas comes to discover agroecology, here is the agriculture part. As regards to its model, Argentina has very favorable conditions and an agricultural surface five times superior to France. Argentina fully plays GMO (Genetically modified organisms) on its production of soya and cereal, becoming the 10th biggest exporter of modified soya. The breeding of oxen is very present with 50 % of farmlands used for this need. Thus we find ourselves in a context of monoculture and intensive farming. Fortunately for us, it is not the case everywhere, as in San Marco sierra in Nate and Andrea’s farm where we participated in our second voluntary service (the article, it is there).

There is thus quite a lot of family exploitation where GMO have no place, however not every farmer make the effort to eliminate fertilizers and weed killers at the same time.

The inhabitants

« Their favorite sport? The international celebrities? Their pets? The resemblances and the differences with France? » Here is partially what wanted to know the children of Quinson.

If Messi is known all over the world it is of course for his sports performances in football. Football, the national sport, takes on an air of religions for some but it does not necessarily mean that the current pope, François, Argentinian, has to worry about to see his popularity threatened. It is not rare to find holy pictures in Argentina, whether it is in cars, houses or even street.

Pets have nothing exotic, cats and dogs in majority of cases. There is a lot of horses in countrysides, the gaucho is never far. The gaucho is the Argentinian cowboy, see photo below.

Even more present than the religion, the football or the gauchoes on horseback, the mate. This plant with numerous therapeutic virtues satisfies all. At any time, that he goes to the beach, at work, hiking or shopping, the Argentinian walks with his cup of mate and his thermos of hot water. In case he goes short of hot water or of leaves, misfortune! Fortunately, numerous kiosks sell it, phew!

For the laymen who want of to know more about it, you will need a straw equipped with a filter, a cup of mate, more or less classy, and to fill it with leaves of mate. Finally pour some hot water above to fill the cup and suck up by the straw. And keep going until the leabes does not have taste anymore.

Among the customs which surprised us, naps, very present especially between 1 pm and 5 pm. We were also amazed by the schedules of stores, generally opened from 10 am till 1 pm then from 5 pm till 10 pm, time necessary to have your nap. Finally the snacks also have their importance, called here almacenar (mix between almuerzo – to have lunch and cenar – to have dinner), around 6 pm, a mate and some biscuits to hold until dinner time, around 10 pm. While in France snacks are essentially present for childrens, here it is for all the ages.

Contrary to Bolivia, we feel that the Argentine culture is more “international”, we find known channels store, European cars (Peugeot, Citroën, Dacia, Volkswagen) and some other similarity as the ready-to-wear clothing which offers a style similar to what we know.
Fortunately the art and the culture have nothing international and it is what we go to see below.

Art and legends

Similarity with Europe, the USA and the “international culture” is present in Argentina, however we were able to show to the Quinson’s children that the country keeps a strong identity as regards its gastronomy, its music and its legends.
The English music is present only in touristic places which want to attract international customers, as for the local restaurants, the buses, the radio, the festivals or other of the country, the musics are very Argentine. Here is an extract recorded in a bus in the Jujuy region.

You can also listen to La Yegros, big crush for Ben about Argentine music.

We were alos lucky to learn a lot of legends with Penny, our Boliviano-Mapuche friend, you can read or reread his interview here.
The legends often turn around alcohol, greed, fantasm and fantasy as the Salamanca one, where one man sees all his dreams becoming true but nobody will believe him when he will speak about what he lived and will die alone and sad. We preferred to tell the mate legend to the kids.

The origin of the Mate:  When the night come, Yací the moon illuminates from the sky the vegetation on earth and disguises the water of silvery colors. But all that she could see from the sky was bushy foliages which hardly allowed to pass the light of its beams. Curious, she wished to see by herself the marvels which had been told her by the sun and by the clouds: the singing hummingbirds, the movement of ferns, and the gleaming beaks of toucans.

One day, she came down on earth, accompanied by Araí the cloud, and, transformed into women, they began to travel the jungle together. The melody of the latter bewitched them, and for that reason they did not hear the silent steps of the jaguar which approached, ready to jump up. But at the same moment, an arrow sent by an old hunter guarani came straight in the coast of the animal, before the second arrow pierces him again. Whereas the jaguar was dying, the Indian believed to surprise two women to escape but when silence happened he sees nothing else than trees and darkness of the forest.

This night, lengthened in his hammock, the old man made a fabulous dream: he sees again the jaguar, himself pulling the rope of his bow, and two white skin and long hair women. They appeared to wait for him, and when he was next to them, Yací called him by its name and tells him: “I am Yací and here is my friend Araí. We wish to reward you to have saved us. You were brave, and for it I am going to offer you a present and a secret. Tomorrow, when you will wake up, you will find in front of your door a new plant, caá. With its leaves can be done an infusion which attracts hearts and goes hunting the solitude. It is my present for you, for your children and for the children of your children …”

The next morning, the old man and the Guarani families which lived in a same and big house found in front of their door a plant in the gleaming and oval leaves. The hunter followed the instructions of Yací: he did not forget to burn out leaves, and once ground, he compressed them within a hollow gourd. He looked then for a fine cane, added some water and enjoyed the new beverage. So was born mate, whose secret was passed on from generation to generation.

The Argentine gastronomy is a real culture, empenadas, asados, matambre of rellene, dulce de leche, alfajores and many others. We selected the recipes of the dulce de leche and alfajores by hoping to find it in our return in France (notice to the teaching staff of Quinson :-))


Notabene: we put our expertise at your service, also for any need of a culinary test, do not hesitate to appeal to us, we shall come to enjoy your dulce de leche and your alfajores to compare with the numerous that we tasted on the continent. 

It is with all this information and those of our voluntary services (find here: Martina and Johan, Andrea and Nate, Catalina and Juan) whom the Quinson ‘s pupils were able to begin to work on their vision of the country.

Children’s works

Horses, conquistadors, football players and plantations, that is what stands out mainly in their drawings.

The Argentinian tango also interested them a lot, but that it is certainly due to the school’s assistant who teach them. Thanks to her to have made live the Argentinian culture within the school!

Draw me Argentina ends here! We hope that you liked reading the article.

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