Somehow, it’s been one year since we left Córdoba. I’m not quite sure how that happened. In so many, many ways it seems like just yesterday that we were packing up our house in Portland getting ready to set out on our big adventure, and now the calendar has turned so that it’s been one year since we woke in the dark and cold of a winter morning to start out trip back to the states.
I wouldn’t say that there have been any earth-shattering changes for our family in the year that we’ve been home, more like a series of smaller changes and things that I notice:
2.) The kids have had an easier time transitioning back to being home than Rob and I have. I think this is because Rob and I have a much fuller sense of what it took to pull our trip off. We know that it’s going to be quite a while before we are able to do something like our year abroad again. I’m not saying that we’ll NEVER do it again. I would hate to say something like that, but I would be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that sometimes, life gets in the way of life! I also think that for Rob and I, the trip was much more of a “vacation” from our regular life and stresses. That is not to say that it was easy and all we did was sit around drinking umbrella drinks and swimming in the pool. We mostly drank wine, and the pool took us a while to get up and running……but seriously, although the trip was a break for Rob from an office job, it was indeed stressful navigating an unknown language and culture (the guy who opens the door to your exercise class, and your students all expect kisses of greeting from you, but the guy the comes to fix your air conditioner doesn’t).
3.) It is more difficult to carry over the awesomeness-es of the Argentine culture into our American life than I thought it would be. But why don’t people just stop by at 6pm and drink maté with you while you simply hang out and let the kids do whatever? Because it’s get-ready-for-dinner-where-is-your-homework-feed-the-dog-put-away-your-left-over-lunch-time at 6pm in most US houses, that’s why! Summer is a little bit more fluid, but because we’re living our “normal” life in Portland, it includes many of the things that our life in Córdoba did not: full-time working parents, cars, clubs, meetings, pets, and other obligations that we were joyously free from in Argentina. And our American friends are all in the same boat as we are. And, no, I still have not figured out how just about everyone in Argentina stays up so late and functions the next day. Not EVERYONE in the country takes a siesta.
4.) Even more than I suspected I would, I desperately want our Argentine friends to come visit us in Oregon. The kindness and hospitality we were shown can only possibly be repaid by our friends coming here. For that reason (and many others), we are thrilled that our friends’ niece will be coming to stay with us for three months in December! Although we keep laughing at how early she’ll think we eat dinner and go to bed.
5.) In all of the crazy, though, I do feel like our family has something unique and special to share. There is a meat market near our public library that has an outdoor grill, and we often end up there around the time they’re lighting the fire. The kids invariably sniff the air and sigh saying: “Ahhhh!!!! Someone’s having an asado!” We have special family memories that we can share with each other and talk about: how incredible it was to see things like the Puerito Moreno Glacier in the south of Argentina; the Incan Child Mummies in Salta, Argentina; and Iguazú Falls in Argentina and Brazil. To see and experience these wonders not only myself, but also through the eyes of my children is a gift for which I will be forever thankful.