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Friday, November 11, 2011

Despedidas, Or How the Gordo's Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

I am not a sentimental person, and I do not pride myself on my ability to form lasting relationships with human beings. I'm not a charmer (at least on more than a superficial level), and I would say that I tend to be very cold, intimidating, and unforgiving. People are messy, complicated, and are horrible with logic, and the more I deal with them the more they fascinate me.

After spending just over 8 months here in Argentina, what impresses me most is that, in spite of any external factors, the people around me manage to maintain a sense of community which is forged not by judgment and deciding whether or not someone "fits" with their group, but rather valuing the contribution, however little, that he or she can add to the collective whole. Like I said, I'm not a charmer. In fact, I can be kind of a curmudgeon at times, especially if placed in an unfamiliar situation that requires socialization. Even considering that, I've somehow managed to connect with a great deal of people here in Argentina; I think a grand portion of it is due to their culture and the value they place on family and togetherness. Whatever it is, it makes saying goodbye a lot more difficult.

Every Argentinean I've met loves a good fiesta, and this week was not lacking in joda. Every night this week I had something planned, whether it was a dinner with some of my students or a full-blown asado and despedida with dancing, lights, and liters of fernet. I can't go into detail about everything that was done for me, but I will say that I was astounded by the time, effort, and dedication that my friends put into giving me a good bon voyage. Never in my life have I felt so wanted, special, or valuable. Thanks to all of you for making my experience so very unforgettable.


Surprise parties

I racked my brain, I can't think of a time when I was thrown a surprise party. That's kind of unusual, since I love surprising other people. This week I was thrown two.

Thursday night I was invited to a small asado at the house of one of the professors. She said that a few people would show up for some choripanes and wine, and I believed her. I walked to her house, saw the garage door open, and rang the doorbell. No answer. The door was open, but I wasn't going to just wander into her home (if it even was her home), so I gave her a call.

"No worries," she said, "I'll unlock the gate."

Well, I walk into her backyard, which has a nice set of patio furniture, a small pool in the back left corner, and a quincho. I noticed that the only people there were this professor and another, and that didn't surprise me. After all, I was showing up to dinner at 9:30, which is like Argentine 4:30. Well, I got a glass of red wine, opened a present from them (the incredible gestures of friendship reflected as gifts from my friends and students is a whole other topic that I don't have time to discuss right now, but I love it), and sat to talk. The professor told me to go into the quincho to get comfortable since the guests would be arriving soon, and wouldn't you know it? All of them jumped out from the back and surprised me. Cheeky little Argentineans. What's more is that they made me posterboards, a photo collage, and gave me even more gifts. Incredible.

Friday Night: "Mexican Food."

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