Just a couple of weeks ago we took our last overnight bus in Argentina from Mendoza back home to Córdoba. The kids were just as thrilled with it as they were the first time we took an overnight bus from Córdoba to Buenos Aires. The fancy “suite class” buses in Argentina are quite deluxe, and have approximately one million times more room than any coach seat on an airplane. If you have the time, I would recommend an overnight bus over a flight just about any day.
I don’t think that I’m making a revolutionary statement when I say that over the years, air travel has become less and less enjoyable, although, maybe that’s because in those earlier times, I traveled by myself or with Rob, and now I travel with three children under the age of eleven. I write this and slap my forehead at the same time because we are about to embark on about six flights over two weeks that will take us through Brazil and back home to Portland. WHAT AM I THINKING?!?!?
In all honesty I’m thinking that I cannot possibly believe that our “1 Year in Argentina” has just about come to a close. This past year has been replete with new experiences:
- Have I ever had really, REALLY carbonated water delivered to my house once a week in adorable seltzer bottles? No! Do I LOVE it? YES!!!!
- Have I ever lived in a house with a pool?
- Have I ever, in all my adult life, spent eight hours at someone’s house for lunch, and then felt like I was hurting their feelings by “leaving so early. What is the hurry?”
- Have I ever relied on my YOUNG children to help me get my point across to another adult?
Have I ever spent so much time together with my family? NO! This has been an exciting (and sometimes exhausting) year of learning. While in Salta, a city with incredible colonial architecture in northern Argentina, we visited the MA’AM museum. This was one of my favorite museum visits, by far in Argentina. The museum houses a small collection of artifacts collected from tombs found high in the Andes Mountains, and three incredibly preserved mummies. Only one of the mummies is on display at a time, for preservation purposes, and we were lucky enough to see the boy. These mummies are children who were part of an Incan ritual that helped to protect the people who lived in the areas surrounding the Andes. The children were brought to the mountain peaks alive, and dressed in beautiful, ornate ceremonial clothes. They were given a sort of corn alcohol to drink and cocoa leaves to chew, and then buried in stone tombs on the mountain. The museum was very quiet as people shuffled trough the small space looking at the artifacts and reading the descriptions. As we quietly walked into the room containing the small mummy (in a special plexiglass cylinder kept at near freezing temperatures and low humidity), Ben said to me, “Mom, do you think the kids KNEW what was going to happen to them when they were walking up the mountain?” I still get the feeling of someone punching me in the gut when I think of that question. I had no answer for Ben, and told him as much. I tried to talk about how it was a very different culture, and it was a very different time, but those words didn’t begin to address what he was wrestling with inside his seven-year-old brain.
Have I ever been to so many rugby games? Heck, no! But really, is it all that much different from fall soccer on Saturdays? Not too much. The drinks of choice for both adults and kids are different: mate instead of coffee for adults, and Coke or Powerade instead of water for kids, but other than that it’s still a bunch of kids running around having fun while their parents stand by and snap pictures and visit with other parents. I will say this, though: the bonds of rugby are STRONG, and more often than not, the son plays for the same club that his father and uncles played for, and many rugby families have known each other for generations.
Have I ever lived in such close proximity with so many large insect-type things? Heavens, NO! Cockroaches AND scorpions? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!?!? Let’s just say that this one will fall in the “LAST” category, too. And I have to say that even though I have a great deal of respect for cockroaches–I really do!–they were around with the dinosaurs, that doesn’t mean I won’t spray the heck out of one, or smash it with a shoe the minute I see it.
Have I ever been so lax about the kids riding around in cars without seat belts, or cramming onto laps in cars? Of course not, but lots of paradigms had to shift to live here, and I can guarantee that once back state-side, we’ll be back on track. Much to the dismay of my children, I’m sure. Another one for the “LAST” category, I guess.
- Insects: see above!
- Clown-car-ing it: see above!
- Quite luxurious overnight bus: see above!
- Long-term living without a dishwasher: Please GOD make this a last! I can’t afford the glasses and dishes I break!
- Living in a house with an absolutely spectacular quincho: I sincerely hope this ISN’T a “LAST,” and Rob and I are determined to do everything we can to recreate this incredible structure back home.
- Spending lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoons eating, drinking, and visiting with friends and family. I certainly hope this, too, ISN’T a “LAST,” but as Americans, we always seem to be in a hurry to move on to the “next thing.” It seems that often we are looking ahead without recognizing the preciousness and beauty of the moment. Tomorrow we have been invited to an afternoon asado with friends, and I find that recently, I am thinking, “Ohhhh! This could be the last time that we have asado with …………..” I know that when it truly IS our last Argentine asado (at least as pertains to this adventure), I will cry my heart out, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one. The kids have all come to love the practice of asado. What’s not to love? The kids run around and play, and come back for quick snack breaks, while the parents sit around without paying much attention to what the kids are up to!
So as we prepare to say, “Goodbye for now,” to Argentina, and, “Hey! We missed you!” to the US, I must ask our US friends to forgive us for a couple of things:
- If you invite us over for dinner, and we’ve been there for four hours, and show no sign of leaving, just remind us gently that we’re not in Argentina anymore (sniff, sniff!). We’ll eventually leave, but we just don’t want to hurt your feelings by leaving too early!
- The besos (kisses) hello and goodbye have become second nature for us (even Rob!), so don’t be weirded out if we come in for a kiss: it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you anyway, so give us a kiss!
- If we invite you over for dinner that very same night, or the next day, don’t think that we’re bored at the last minute: we just want to see you NOW! We don’t want to wait a week or two, so come on over, and don’t be in a hurry to leave: we like spending time with you!