Che, ¡que buena gente!

Coming from the midwest, I am used to nice people. I don’t know if it’s actually true that midwesterners are nicer than anywhere else in the USA, but I like to think so. They hold the door open for you, let you switch into their lane when driving, are pretty honest (in a good way), and tend to genuinely care about other people.

Luckily, I chose to live Salta, which (according to salteños, haha) are the nicest people in Argentina. I only spent a week in Buenos Aires so maybe I’m making this comparison without enough prior knowledge, but at least in my experience salteños are WAY nicer than porteños (people from BA).

Examples:

– In my graduate program, most of the students are super, super nice to me. At first only one or two of them would talk to me during class coffee breaks, but now almost everyone does. They ask me how I’m doing, give me (sometimes unsolicited) advice on pretty much anything and everything, help me with assignments that they’ve already completed, send me e-mails with links to helpful articles/etc., eat lunch with me, ask me a lot about how I’m adapting, etc.

– At Instituto Franklin where I volunteer all of the teachers are so, SO nice (especially Carla and Cecilia) to me and I feel super at home when I’m there.

– In my Portuguese class, the teacher one day told everyone that I’m from the USA. Kind of awkward and unnecessary, but awesome at the same time because now most of my classmates are really supportive of me trying to learn a third language and tell me I’m doing a good job. There are also 3 women in my class who are particularly amazing, one of whom has offered to drive me home from class whenever she drives herself (gas is super expensive so she takes the bus sometimes). Another takes a different bus sometimes just so she can come with me and we can talk after class.

– Friends. On Sunday night I had 3 of my friends over to my apartment and we made pizza. Granted, 2 of them are Americans so they have nothing to do with how nice salteños are (but they are super nice and I love them!). Anyways, Cecilia who IS from Salta made dough from scratch at home and brought all the ingredients we needed to make the pizza (cheese, etc.). She also brought a huge thing of ice cream. It was so kind of her to do this and I really appreciated it! If I had my friends over at home to make pizza we would probably just go to Pick N Save together beforehand and get everything. But she went out of her way to get all the ingredients and bring them with her!

– When I go do things that are a little challenging (try to get a cell phone plan without a DNI (Argentinian ID), try to get a copy of my electric bill because one never showed up at my door, do a wire transfer, etc.) everyone has been extremely nice and understanding and really does everything in their power to help me.

– No stranger/acquaintance has EVER been rude to me in Salta. My accent still is not salteño so it’s fairly clear once I open my mouth that I am not from here. But not a single person has treated me differently in Salta because of the fact that I must not be salteña. In fact, at one of the cafes I go to, the waiter found out I was from the US and now always asks me to help him a little bit with his English when I go there — he’ll come over and ask if it’s better to say bill or check, if carbonated water is called “soda” like it is in Spanish, etc. But I’ve never felt judged or disliked for being American.

It’s awesome to know that when I step out of my apartment I can go around the city and do whatever I need to do and not be worried about anyone being rude or judging me because of the fact that I’m from the US. In Spain I was definitely taken advantage of, especially at the big market, because they knew I wasn’t Spanish and things would magically be more expensive for me. But nothing like that has happened to me in Salta! All in all I am so thankful to be in this city!

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3 Comments

  1. I’m glad to hear it’s like this in Salta, as I’m making tentative plans to visit the north the next time I’m in Argentina (I get vacation in a 3-week chunk some years, which is generous for a US nonprofit).

    I think there’s a stereotype of porteños/as similar to the stereotype of New Yorkers in the US. One of my favorite people in the world is a porteño, and he’s mentioned that the stereotype is so pervasive in Argentina, he began introducing himself as being from another part of the province, where he’d lived with his family, so people wouldn’t be unpleasant to him. A Spanish teacher of mine years ago, from Rosario, was pretty snotty about porteños/as. I suppose it’s like any stereotype — true of some people, so the whole group is painted with a broad brush. But I’ve met dozens of folks in Buenos Aires on all 4 of my trips who were very kind, giving, and sweet. When they find out how interested I am in Argentine culture, they make an effort to include me, and we end up parting with the usual beso!

    • The North is amazing, and so many people overlook it and head to Mendoza or something instead. But it’s so worthwhile to come up here! If you come to Argentina before December let me know!

      I suppose you’re right about the stereotype being like that of New Yorkers. Personally when I was in Buenos Aires, though, I never felt that strangers in public were kind to me, but here I do. I am going back to BA at some point and when I do it’ll be useful to take another look after having lived in Salta for awhile.

      • That makes sense — I think a lot of people in big cities are afraid of theft and/ or scams, and there’s a ton of that in Buenos Aires these days. People have been great to me in more protected spaces — on historical tours, in their B & Bs and restaurants, at the independent book publishers’ fairs, when they’re with their families at events, at film festivals, in museums… It gets better and better as my castellano improves, too!

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