Mendoza is the only province in Argentina that still observes a siesta. Actually -- scratch that -- that celebrates a siesta. Mendocinos take their Spanish heritage very seriously, and they have maintained a four hour break in the school or work day from 12:30 - 4:30 PM every day. In our professional Western working lives, a break this extensive seems absurd, but I have developed a sincere appreciation for this "slow life."
Our incredibly kind driver, Claudio, explained that work begins at 8AM, and at 12:30PM the parents collect their children from school, and the family meets at home for a leisurely lunch. The parents get time in the afternoon to enjoy their children, families come together, and the day is appreciated outside of work. Coming from a Montana winter where it dark when I leave home for the office and dark when I return, this tradition is more than appealing. As I learned from a new friend here, one of the biggest differences between North American and Latin American culture is that our Southern counterparts "work to live", where as many of us northerners have fallen into a habit of "living to work." While the North American work ethic can afford us a different lifestyle and accompanying opportunities, I am not so sure if it translates into a higher quality of life. Even two weeks on a South America tour has helped me realize that I need to find a better balance between my life in and outside of the office.
We flew to Buenos Aires this afternoon, and our pace adjusted accordingly to the faster city life. Buenos Aires' gorgeous French and Colonial architecture, expansive green parks, and broad avenues welcomed us, and we set out on the next chapter of our Argentina trip.