I’m on my way to Argentina.
From A Child’s Geography of the World, by V. M. Hillyer (1929).
We give babies names when they are born, but sometimes when the babies grow up the names do not fit them. “Charles” means “strong” and “Ruth” means “beautiful,” but when Charles grows up he may not be strong, and Ruth may not be beautiful. You never can tell. When white people came to South America to the land south of Brazil they saw Indians there wearing silver bracelets and silver necklaces, and they supposed there must be a great deal of silver in the land, so they names the country “Silver Land,” which in their language is “Argentina.” But Argentina turned out to have very litter silver, yet we still call it Silver Land just the same.
Although Argentina has little silver, the people there have a great deal of money; in fact, they have more money than any other country in South America. They do not get the money out of the ground, but they make it by selling wheat and meat, so it would have been a more fitting name if they had called Argentina “Wheat Land” or “Meat Land” instead of “Silver Land,” but not nearly so pretty. In Argentina there are enormous farms where they grow wheat and corn, and enormous fields called pampas where they raise cattle and sheep. The men that look after these cattle and sheep we should call “cowboys,” but there they are call “gauchos.” Gauchos wear ponchos. A poncho is a kind of square blanket with a hole in the center through which the gaucho sticks his head. He uses it as a coat by day and as a blanket at night. A gaucho always carries a big knife, which he uses as a sword, as a hatchet, or as a table knife.
Corn feeds the cattle. Cattle makes meat and meat makes money. From the skin of the cattle leather is made, and from the wool of sheep cloth is made, and from both money is made.
Argentina is so much like the United States in a great many ways that it is often called the United States of South America. Both countries are alike in this — that they have hot weather part of the time and cold weather part of the time. But there is this big difference: in Argentina they have winter when the United States is having summer, and summer when the United States is having winter. In Argentina Christmas comes in hot weather and snow and ice in July and August. They have flowers and vegetables and vacations in January and February, and snow and ice and sledding and skating in July.
The capital of Argentina is often called the New York of South America, as it is the largest city of South America, as New York is the largest city of North America. Its name, however, is not New York, but “Good Airs,” or, in Spanish, “Buenos Aires.” It is on the Plata River, which is another name that means silver. So we have the city of Good Airs on the Silver River in Silver Land.
In most of the other countries of South America there are many more Indians and Indians mixed with white men than there are white people, but in Argentina most of the people are white. That’s another reason why it is like the United States; but Argentina was settled by people from Spain, not from England, so the people speak Spanish and not English.