Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bittersweet Symphony

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." While it may be hyperbole on both accounts to use Dickens' (possibly most) often cited quote to describe our current state of affairs in Buenos Aires, it does help illustrate the situation in which we found ourselves at this time. Even though many PorteƱos flee the city with their families to enjoy the holidays on the beach or simply away from the hustle and bustle of BsAs (with buses running less and with so many people outside the city, traffic and noise pollution are at an all-time low, which you know is pleasant for us if you've read previous posts), a tangible excitement still sweeps the streets and illuminates the night sky. As a predominately Catholic country, Christmas reigns supreme in Argentina. While it may not get as done up as other cities, Buenos Aires does a good job of bringing Christmas cheer to is residents, although it looks quite silly to, as Julia puts it, "have snowflakes on the windows of stores selling air conditioning units". The northern half of the northern hemisphere definitely has a clear advantage in terms of realizing dreams of the white Christmas in which Santa's sleigh treads softly atop snow covered rooves before placing presents underneath the Christmas tree, but that doesn't stop Buenos Aires from lining store fronts with wreaths, Holiday Lights, and other staples of North American Christmas/Holiday/Winter decorations.
In a way, it reminds me of being home during this holiday season, this being the first that I will spend completely away from Great Barrington. But, as occurred when most of my family came for Thanksgiving, our homes will come to us to celebrate the holidays! In five days, just in time for New Years but just after Hanukah ends, Julia's sister Mia and her boyfriend Kenny will arrive in Buenos Aires to spend a few weeks with us (note: I wrote most of this post some time before I actually published it, so bear with the Lost-like bending of the space-time continuom). I know they are excited since they bought their tickets months ago and have had an entire semester to look forward to escaping the bitter cold of the Northeast in favor of the summer breezes of South America, and we are definitely excited to welcome more visitors to our newly adopted city. It gives us an excuse to act like tourists and go out to dinner more often than usual, which is always fun, and we'll try and do some day trips so they can see as much of the region as possible. We'll definitely be going to Uruguay for at least one day, for Julia and I have to renew our tourist visas, lest we remain in Argentina illegally...

All in all, it looks to be an exciting few weeks of romping around the city, but not nearly as much once January rolls around because...we finally got jobs! I know, some of you thought this may never happen, but truth be told, we finally obtained some sort of steady employment. Granted, it's only 12 hours a week between the two of us, at 24 pesos an hour, and the hours (8:15-9:45AM) are not ideal for two people who have been lazily rolling out of bed much later than they should, it's still a start and may develop into something more profitable down the road. And given the fact that we have visitors for the next bunch of weeks (Julia's parents arrive a few days before Mia and Kenny depart), the time and volume of our hours will allow us to be gracious hosts while still bringing in some dough.

"The worst of times" does not refer to our impending forfeiture of unlimited free time - but after we are waking up every morning at seven, it very well may - but rather to the departure of so many of our friends in the past few weeks. We knew many of these students from all over the world for just two months or so, but they left an impression on us so strong that the city will feel very different without them. These are the people who welcomed us to our new home, initiated us into a new culture, and welcomed us into the lives they had been building long before we arrived. Whether members of Julia's class or our Frisbee team, they helped make our introduction to Buenos Aires so pleasant and rewarding. One of our friends, Austin, urged us to continue what everyone started in bringing good spirit and friendship everywhere we go, persist in our self immersion into this wonderful city and culture, and take advantage of the incredible opportunity afforded to us. Overall, I do sense that I carry myself with a more positive and energetic air, much of which I credit to the company that I've kept since coming to Buenos Aires. Their enthusiasm for life and seeking out new and exciting experiences, however cliche it may sound, continues to rub off on me. I only hope that we can do the same for someone else who comes to BsAs in the future, wherever they're from, whatever their story.

So here is a big thank you to any of them that read the blog. To those of us who are still here, going strong, I'm incredibly excited to start a new year in Buenos Aires. And to everyone back in the States, Happy New Year, may it be better than the last, and I'll be thinking of how cold you are while I'm (hopefully) on my way to the beach tomorrow. Cheers!

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