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31 It's still true! Water does (sometimes, at least) circle in the opposite direction south of the Equator! About one year ago I wrote something that started with this statement and used it to lead into our family's reactions to our first three months of living abroad—in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that time I compared our situation to being caught in a whirlpool of new facts, ideas, customs, likes and dislikes. It seemed as if our family were in the center of this whirlpool, and we were expectantly wondering what new experience awaited us. I had come to Argentina on special assignment in connection with technical coordination of the DPH&S Latin American practice, which has based us in Buenos Aires. Today we know the city much better. We can even locate places and streets to which we wish to go and, when you consider the lack of street signs here, this is no insignificant accomplishment. As we have become more familiar with the city, we are convinced that Buenos Aires is a fine place in which to live, and we have become deeply impressed with its commercial, industrial and seaport activities, and with its people, who number more than six million. In some inexplicable way, Buenos Aires looks different from sister cities on this continent. New and modern buildings are just beginning to intrude on its basic skyline of older Spanish and European-influenced architecture. It is a joy to walk its fabulously wide avenidas (main thoroughfares generally of four or more lanes) and tight little calles (streets) and look at all the tiny little shops and gallerias (groupings of many tiny shops) among the many massive, square, grand old buildings with their tile roofs, painted cement exteriors, high-arched windows and iron-railed balconies. It is a pleasure as well to view its tree-lined streets and many, many parks, its flowers and flowering trees and shrubs offering gorgeous year-round displays of vivid colors, beautifully contrasting the tropical flora with those familiar to us from most of the United States. To me Buenos Aires is a city in motion: the frantic, scurrying street traffic; the hundreds of people continually rushing through Retiro railroad station (more than through Grand Central in New York, it seems to me); or a trip to the famous "Boca"—the old port area, a tourist-attracting Bohemian section. Above all, to me it is a walk among thousands of other pedestrians down its most notable street, Florida. Here, I think, you really feel the life of this great city. You hear the sounds of its crowds, you are bumped and jostled, and you find a new facet of interest with each such walk. One thing that forcefully strikes the average U.S. transferee on arriving here is the heavy reliance on manual labor, which is apparently the most economical way of getting things done. Construction workers can be seen passing materials along by hand, in ways that remind you of the old bucket brigades. Sand and gravel are often moved in small pans looking like slightly over-sized angel food cake pans. And it really looks like hard work when you see two members of a railroad crew sitting on their little boxes cutting a rail with what appears to be an oversized, two-man hacksaw. The most important position on such construction crews seems to be that of the member assigned to cook the noon asado (open-fire barbecue); it seems very odd to Since writing this article, Wil Harris has transferred to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to be partner in charge of that office. see the smoke and smell the cooking meat even on Avenida Q de Julio, which has been reported to be, or to have been at one time, the world's widest avenue. I would term the people of Buenos Aires happy people; they appear to love to talk together rapidly and are continually smiling or laughing when in such group conversations. The people on the streets here are quite different in appearance from those found in other large South American cities. Here they are generally taller, fairer and more European in appearance, thereby reflecting the assimilation of the many nationality groups from both the northern and southern regions of that continent. The women of the city need bow to none, for they include an unusually large number of fine-looking women. Their outstanding traits would include lovely hair and complexion and beautiful eyes. And they seem to pull out all stops in selecting their vividly colored dresses, which often belie the contention that girls cannot attractively wear stripes running in the "wrong direction." The Argentine men, quite opposite from the girls, dress quite conservatively, most often in very quiet gray, blue and black suits with only a few browns. Many comb their hair straight back and moustaches are fairly common. Perhaps the most interesting thing we have noted about them is the proclivity of the men in the street to be very avid girl-watchers. It is quite common to see men on the big avenue, Florida, just stop and watch a girl passing, particularly if she is wearing a short skirt. Season and weatherwise, living south of the Equator causes us quite a bit of confusion because the seasons are the reverse of those in the North. We must continually explain whose winter and summer we are talking about, because summer in the Argentine is winter in the U.S. and vice versa. Having lived in the northern part of the United States all of our lives, we just cannot feel natural to be holding our swimming parties at Christmas time. And it seems most strange that at that season the only bells you hear tinkling on Florida are those of the local equivalent of the Good Humor man. Argentines appear outwardly to experience relatively little discomfort from the humid summer heat, but they show extreme reaction to the cold of the winters (which I consider quite mild). How I envy them in the sum-
Letter from Buenos Aires
Harris, Wilbur D.
Harris, Wilbur D.
Deloitte, Plender, Haskins & Sells. Buenos Aires Office
Deloitte, Plender, Haskins & Sells. Rio de Janeiro Office
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
H&S Reports, Vol. 07, (1970 winter), p. 31-32
|Source||Originally published by: Haskins & Sells|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|