17 marzo 2013
“I haven’t seen the stars since we got here,” I remarked to my friend while on the subway this evening. We were remarking about how much we are digging life in Buenos Aires, especially having both come from rural communities in the Northeast.
I chose to come to Buenos Aires for a few different reasons. I had enjoyed speaking Spanish once I arrived in Central America, and wanted to continue to do so during my next study abroad experience. I also knew that I wanted to stay within Latin America for a Spanish-speaking country. Argentina offers a much different, and a unique reality within this area of the world. Lastly, I would hopefully be able to fulfill my dream of seeing Patagonia in person.
Three weeks into the program, and I am enjoying life as a porteño. I come from a small, simple, and rural community in upstate New York. If you blink, you might miss Galway Village as you drive through. Forest and farmland dominate the rolling topography of my hometown. Lines on roads are not exactly common, and it is often rare to pass other vehicles on the back roads of this once colonial community. If there is traffic, it is usually because a tractor is on the road, or cows are crossing. Stars fill the sky on clear nights, and you can usually see the glow of the two cities that are closest to the town, as well as the lights of the atomic power lab that is nearby. Fast forward to February 25th when I arrived here in Buenos Aires. Taxis. High-rise buildings. Mass transit: city buses and a subway. It is a lifestyle that has been foreign to me for my entire life. I’ve never spent much time in large cities. I can count the number of times I’ve been to New York City on one hand. Life here in Buenos Aires though, is not bad at all. There is a large culture of physical fitness. At all hours of the day you can be sure to see someone jogging through the city. Parks are commonplace to gather and enjoy the fresh air. Trees create shade to relieve yourself from the strong sun, and the open grass areas provide ideal sun bathing locales. Whether it’s passing a soccer ball back and forth, playing some guitar, sun bathing, reading, slacklining, or simply spending time with friends, parks are the place to be.
I have spent more time in parks these past few weeks than the amount of time I’ve spent in parks in the United States combined. It’s where I go to relax, spend time with friends, process my thoughts, and enjoy the beautiful weather that graces Buenos Aires. I now have my slackline here with me (thanks Mom and Dad!), and can now go to a park, find two trees, and work on slacklining. Other times, I read, people watch, or even play the guitar. I’ve always needed a connection to nature. It’s part of who I am, and parks help to satisfy that need here in Buenos Aires.
Other students on my program have asked me what I think of Buenos Aires in comparison to Central America. I often ask myself the same question. I need to stop though; Argentina has an entirely different reality than Central America, and it is almost fruitless to begin to compare the two areas of Latin America. Central America will always have a place in my heart—even the fact that you can’t drink the tap water, and that you aren’t able to flush toilet paper. It’s just part of life in Central America, and I thoroughly enjoyed that lifestyle. Here in Buenos Aires though, it’s different. This is a modern city. Like I said before, it’s a different reality. I signed up for this program for just that: a different reality. Experiencing this culture, I feel, will provide me with a valuable perspective to help me understand Latin America as a whole.
As with any traveling, these past few weeks have been introspective and transformative. I’ve been fortunate to do a large amount of traveling this past year, and for which I am grateful to those people who have offered their love and support along the way (another shout out to my parents!). I am always amazed how a human being is an adaptable creature. How a kid from Galway, New York can create a life in a global city like Buenos Aires. Travel does that—it forces me to look at myself, the situation at hand, and to be present to that moment.