It has officially been a year. In typical tardy fashion, I am posting about two weeks after my actual one-year mark, but according to all my other posts, timeliness is not really my style. Based on my last entry, I promised a final post recounting my trip to Patagonia, where I visited the world’s only still-growing glacier, El Perito Moreno, explored the Fitz Roy mountain chain in El Chaltain and traveled to “the end of the world,” Ushuaia, the Southernmost point before hitting Antarctica. I did not do that. After my trip, my parents and sister came to visit me in Buenos Aires where they got to meet Ana and explore the streets that I grew to feel so at home in. Then we all flew home and the re-assimilation process began. (I flew to Providence, where I would live for the summer, six days after arriving in Tallahassee.) Needless to say, I was busy. But more than that, I was in denial that it was over. By writing that it was the end, made it final, over, complete — and I could not do it.
My trip to the South was beyond incredible. Erin (my media naranja) and I saw the most amazingly amazing views I have seen in my lifetime. We heard the daunting cracks of the glacier (which I thought looked like a mix between pumice stone and meringue). We saw huge barking seals and the archeological grounds of an ancient civilization in Ushuaia. We rode along the Beagle Chanel, the same channel Darwin rode centuries before. We fared a closed hostel where we intended to stay, but were happily surprised to meet some really cool British guys in the one hostel that was open in El Chaltain. We played Shithead (a really fun card game, with a really fun vulgar name.) We ate lamb goulash (El Chaltain is known for its lamb). We walked 13 miles in the Fitz Roy mountain range just to see a glacier that was still less impressive than Perito Moreno, but were greeted at the end of the day-long hike by a beautiful sunset and full moon that rivaled the beauty of our day. At the end of our week-long excursion to the South, Erin and I flew back to Buenos Aires, where we met our families who awaited us there. I took my family to the old Recolleta cemetery and street fair. We went to Fuerza Bruta — a Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil-like performance, which was stunning and incredible. We visited Iguazu Falls, one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in the world where we rode a boat amidst the falls. They met Molly and Erin and their moms. I took them to my favorite cafes and restaurants. We had dinner with Ana where we talked the World Cup as we watched it on TV in the sports bar and my dad tried to speak Spanish.
I can remember everything that happened but it has been a year, and everything is still so fresh in my mind. Argentina left an impression on me and it is not one that will be easily erased. Argentina taught me patience. It taught me to be open to change and to slow down, and accept that I may not get everything I want to get done in a day. It taught me the importance of language and of not being a culture-collector (where we expect something from going abroad) but the importance of being an active participant in cultural exchange (understanding that what we take from abroad is what we make of it and not expecting a certain culture to give us something in return.) It taught me to appreciate time (because days go by quickly, especially in a city, so you need to soak up EVERYTHING, but… ***see previous sentence on change and slowing down.) It taught me to appreciate some aspects of America, but it also taught me to hate some aspects of America. It taught me to be open-minded but also to have a firm stand on what I believe — to not fall for everything. I think if I thought about it enough, this list would keep growing, but for now, I would like to stop. I know I will be back, but for now Argentina holds a dear place in my hear and in my memory.
I am eternally grateful to Ana Laura and Eliana, my beautiful, always happy, loving and just perfect program directors; my host mom, Ana for taking me in as a daughter she never had and making me feel happily at home; the life-long friends I made on my program who shared my passion for human rights and justice, who are my inspiration and who I know will all do amazing work in the years to come; and to all the wonderful Argentines who allowed me to hear their stories and gave me hope for a better future.
Emily “muchos muchos besitos” Kennedy