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De donde es usted? Que pais?
Saturday, 10 December 2011

Where are you from? Which country? -- I am often asked these questions. Being both Polish and Canadian citizen I answer these questions depending on the situation, although in most cases I say that I am Canadian.

When I was planning my trip to Buenos Aires, I checked the visa requirements. Canadians and Americans do not need visa to enter Argentina but they need to pay an entry fee. If I remember correctly the fee for Canadians is $75. However the citizens of European countries, including Poland, can enter Argentina for the period of up to 3 months without visa, and they do not need to pay any fee. So I decided to enter Argentina as 'un Polaco' to save the $75 entry fee that I would have to pay as 'un Canadiense'.

Since I live in Vancouver I feel Canadian first of all and in most cases I say that I am Canadian. However, I think that Canadians and Americans are often perceived as rich people. To avoid such misconception sometimes I say that I am Polish to avoid being perceived as a wealthy person. Such situation occurred two days ago when I went to see the famous Recoleta Cemetery, the resting place of many of the wealthiest and most important Argentine historical figures. There was a man standing at the entrance to the cemetery who immediately approached me with the question “De donde es usted?” He made the impression of an aggressive sales person so to shake him quickly off I answered “soy de Polonia” (I'm from Poland), to which he immediately cried: Polaco! Lato! Boniek! -- I couldn't help bursting in laugh...

Argentines must indeed be big soccer funs to remember these names. Lato and Boniek were two famous soccer players at the time when Poland was among the best soccer teams of the world. In 1974 at the soccer world cup in Germany Lato was the top player of the games scoring 7 goals. By the way Poland beat then Argentina in the first match 3 to 2 with Lato scoring 2 goals.  At the last mach for the third place of the championship, Lato scored one goal enabling Poland to beat Brazil 1 to 0. The championship was won by the host country (Germany) who in a dramatic final match beat Netherlands 2 to 1.  I remember all that vividly because that was the first soccer world cup that I watched. (I was only 13 then). I believe that Lato is now the president of the Polish Soccer Association. Argentines won the world cup at the next championship in 1978 in Argentina beating the Netherlands in the final match 3 to 1.

Boniek scored the most goals for Polish team at the championship in Spain in 1982 when Poland got third place again after Italy and Germany.  I believe that Lato was also a part of this team.

I planned to write about the Recoleta Cemetery today, but the history of soccer championship from over 30 years ago took too much time and space, so I will continue at the next post...

To keep with the topic of nationalities, I will just add that I find that it is possible to blend with Argentines as, unlike in the other Latin-American countries, many of the Argentines are Caucasian and they look like most Europeans, or North-Americans. Of course, there are other ways of recognizing a tourist (a particular way of dressing or behaviour) but this is secondary, so in my opinion, if you really want to, you can pretend to be an Argentine, as long as you don't have to speak of course... :-)

In the news: Cristina Kirchner was sworn-in today to a second four-year term as the president of the country. She is just having a speech on TV now. I think that the festivities take place at Plaza de Mayo, which is a walking distance away from where I stay. I think I will go there soon to check it out. It seems to be 'una fiesta grande'...

Posted by J23


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