Interview with Laura: Argentinian Culture, Politics, and Beyond

Laura and her boyfriend, Manu, arrived at Trek Global (a hostel in New Zealand) about a month after me. Laura and Manu were inseparable, the perfect partners in crime. They were always having fun and imparting their generosity unto the others in the hostel. They introduced me and many others to food and drinking games from Argentina. They also shared their Fernet and Coca Cola with me. Fernet is a popular spiced liquor in Argentina that reminded them of home. Laura brought some small bottles with her to New Zealand so that she could drink it on special occasions. I was very lucky to have worked with someone as caring and fun as Laura. Hope to see you soon!   

1. Where are you from in Argentina?   

I was born in the city of Buenos Aires, famously known as the Tango City, BBQ City, or Football City. But I grew up in Monte Grande, in the Buenos Aires province, near the Ezeiza airport – it is much quieter than The City.

2. What is one of your favorite memories of growing up in Buenos Aires?

For one, I loved the green places where I was able to play when I was young. And then it would be the culture, music, customs, and, for sure, the food.

3. Do you have a favorite place to vacation in Argentina?   

I don’t have one favorite place. When I had traveled throughout Argentina, there were always towns that I loved and wanted to come back to at some point in my life. For example: San Rafael in Mendoza, Cafayate in Salta, and La Cumbrecita in Córdoba.

4. I have always wanted to go to Patagonia. Have you ever been? If so, what was it like?

Yes, I have been once. It is beautiful. I started my trip in the Lanin Volcano. Amazing experience, awesome landscapes, and living three days with Mapuche people who are one of the last tribes living in Argentina. After that, I visited Junín de los Andes, San Martín de los Andes, Villa La Angostura, Bariloche, and finished in El bolsón. A beautiful trip, especially if you love extreme sports, hiking, fishing, and exploring of course. But now it is really expensive for the Argentinian people.  

5. What foods best represent Argentinean cuisine? Do you have a favorite dish?

I believe that the best one is asado and fries. It is the typical meat that we love to eat. My favorite version is matambre a la pizza and fries.

6. I did not realize that Argentina has a prosperous wine region. Where in the country is wine produced and what is the best Argentinean wine?  

Argentina is the biggest producer of wine in Latin America. The wine is produced in San Juan, Salta, La Rioja, Córdoba, and Catamarca. But the most important province responsible for the reputation of the wine here is Mendoza.

There are really many strains in the white vine like Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Torrontes. There are red vines like Bonarda, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, but, for me, the best Argentine red wine is the Malbec.

7. Does Argentina have good relations with the other countries in South America?

Yes, Argentina does. There is the Southern Common Market, called Mercosur for us. It was formed by Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Bolivia.

8. What is the current political and economic situation in Argentina?

Not good…we are in the “carry trade” as it is called in finance. In the first semester of 2017, the inflation was 30% annual. The unemployment rate increased to 9.2% in the first quarter of 2017. And now there are elections again, with all the press focused on the war between the different political parties – with the same politicians that everyone knows.

9. What do you hope changes in the future?

I don’t know what, but I hope change is in the future. The last thing that we can’t lose is our faith.

10. Is there a musical artist from Argentina that the world should know?

Yes, many. Some of them are dead, like Luis Alberto Spinetta, Rodrigo Bueno, Pappo, and Gustavo Cerati. But some of them are still with us, like Charly Garcia, Los Piojos, Babasónicos, La Renga, Abel Pintos, Los Autenticos decadentes, etc.

11. Why did you decide to move to New Zealand to live and work?

I had decided to move abroad to NZ because I was at a point in my life where I needed a change. I was in my thirties, I didn’t have children or a husband. So, it was the perfect moment to leave my comfort zone, enrich myself, and live new experience, new culture, new friends, and find love too.

12. To my understanding, the visa application process for NZ is a lot different in Argentina than in the U.S. Could you tell us about that process?

Yes, you can apply online on the day when the application opens. It’s more or less at the end of September every year. For Argentina, there are only 1000 visas. And every year, it’s more difficult to get the visa because there are a lot of people trying to apply for the same time. For example, in the year that I applied, in half an hour the visas ran out. So, I can say that I was really lucky to get my working holiday visa.

13. What types of jobs did you have while in New Zealand?

I had many different types of jobs. I was working in fundraising for the first months in Auckland.  After that I was working in the south islands at orchards for the different seasonal produce, like cherries, apples, and apricots. Then I was working in a laundromat, a courier post, a software company, a hostel, and Disney on Ice.

14. What was it like working for those companies?

Different, strange, great, funny, and boring in some cases. This was my first time doing something totally different for my career, so it brought about many different emotions. I am an accountant by trade, so I am used to working in an office. This was a great experience, though, to learn about myself and know that we have the possibility to do many different things that you couldn’t have imagined.Consumer Resource Guide

15. Do you believe that your English improved while living abroad? Is that a useful skill to have in Argentina?

Yes, a little bit. I didn’t have bad English, but the trip taught me to be more confident in my skills. And here it is really useful, due to many companies operating from abroad. Now I am working in one of them.

16. Do you plan on going abroad again soon?

Yes, once you do it the first time, it is always a possibility to live abroad again. I never stop dreaming. So, if in my country I am not fine or they do not let me do what I want, I know that there is a world filled with possibilities.

17. What was your favorite place in New Zealand?

Without thinking, “Queenstown.” It is a place where you can find whatever you want to do related to extreme sport, nightlife, adventure, and nature. All the seasons are beautiful there, and you have snow in the winter and beaches and lakes in the summer.