Appreciation

Status

Sweltering
while sipping Argentine cabernet,

Heavy
raindrops pounding a tin roof,

Bare
legs on a felt chair,

Raw
lightning and
Vibrant
linden blossoms on the walk

Home.

No longer waiting
for summer.

Back on the Bandwagon

Status

Blog neglect, blog neglect!

I know I’ve let some time (ahem… months!) pass between posts here, and not from lack of topics; I was simply lacking the blogging urge. Not only did I not read any of my favorite blogs in that time, I also did not have a single desire to write anything, either on paper or screen. I didn’t even log on here to reply to your comments. Eek.

So here is my apology- I’m sorry! And here is my promise- I’ll have a post this weekend!

We are back to our regularly scheduled programming.

 

It’s A Great Day For A March

Pac Man costume with "Inflacion" written on the side.Argentines have a fondness for taking over the streets – hinchas pile into their re-purposed buses, hanging out the windows and blowing vuvuzelas, to party before and after matches; cyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters claim the streets during Critical Mass; students proudly march, masked and waving signs, for improved educational institutions; political parties convene under massive banners and behind bullhorns on a trek to Casa Rosada. And then there are the labor unions, who are by far the most active lot. At least once a week some labor group (or more likely many) is marching down 9 de Julio, banging their drums and chanting in protest of better benefits and higher wages. While I sometimes find the noise level irritating, I laud the Argentinos and their ability to freely mobilize and rally behind their respective causes.

Taking it to the streets: Buenos Aires style.

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Kid Communication

My Spanish is still horrible after five months of living here: I haven’t signed up for classes and the last time I studied Spanish was in high school. I feel pretty shy about using my rudimentary Spanish at restaurants and while shopping, and I can only utter a few words to the people staffing our building’s front desk. However, one place I don’t mind practicing my Spanish is with Fernando’s kids. They don’t mind my grammatical errors and they giggle if I use the wrong word. Oftentimes, I will practice my Spanish while they practice their English, resulting in comically butchered Spanglish.

The following are a few basic phrases I get to practice todo el tiempo because of the kids:

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Spring Is In the Air

Lavender on a balcony against a blye sky.My senses are on high-alert: my nose is periodically lifted towards the first perfume of blooming flowers, my ears are picking out the be-ooo-eep of mockingbirds mimicking la policia, my eyes are noticing nature’s heightened color saturation, my skin is flushed with the growing heat of the midday sun. It’s that beautiful time of year when the thin, winter sunshine finally gives way to the fuller warmth of spring. Gone are the days of frigid southerly winds, steaming pots of stew, and shuffling around a cold apartment bundled in sweaters.

I thank the seasonal powers that be for setting spring in motion and boosting me out of my funk. I was becoming weary of the seemingly perpetual fall and winter. My seasonal clock was begging for relief after I missed summer by switching hemispheres – I went from early spring in Oregon to early fall in Argentina. This last week of beautiful, mid 60° weather has been a much-needed infusion of cheerfulness. I am gleefully prancing around outside wearing a t-shirt and running skirt, baring my paler than pale limbs and basking in the warmth, while the porteños are slowly shedding their thick winter jackets and scarves. Oh, glorious spring!

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Dining Out With the Niños

Argentine flag on the side of a building.Argentina has very little, if any, of the “People With Kids Shouldn’t Take Them Anywhere Except the Toy Store and Park” syndrome the US seems to have developed. This is very much a child and family friendly place, and it is not inappropriate to bring your child out in public. Kids aren’t viewed as screaming, boogery terrors. Fernando and I have seen kids at all but the most expensive restaurants we’ve been to, and at all hours of service. We’ve taken the boys couch shopping for hours on a Saturday and every clerk spoke to them like the humans they are. It’s totally normal to see children everywhere – the subte, the busy outdoor markets, the malls and grocery stores, even tagging along behind their parents at the office when necessary – and adults treating them like the functioning beings they are.

Kids of all ages are learning how to be members of society, and there is no easy way to accomplish that if strangers give the stink eye and use hostility towards parents. Most of the children I’ve seen here are remarkably well-behaved, dare I say more-so than I remember in the States; perhaps that is a result of los niños (and their parents) being given both respect and the chances to learn appropriate public behaviors without being scorned.

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In typical Argentine fashion, after a thirty minute and 55 peso cab ride to a far corner of NW Baires, we were late for our 9pm reservations at a fondue house. Our tardiness didn’t faze the server as she unlocked the door and ushered the four of us into the empty restaurant, pointing to a large table that was to be ours for the next several hours. I noticed the dim lighting and romantic table settings and became worried that this restaurant was not the right choice for the night: we had a cheese loving toddler and a chocolate fondue obsessed preteen in tow.

Dining out with children is absolutely possible in Argentina: parents don’t have to determine if a place is “kid-friendly” as most places gladly welcome kids.

The older woman behind the desk looked at the two kids as they laughed in excitement and chose their spots, her lips pressed into a warm smile. The waitress didn’t bat an eye and promptly brought out a wooden high-chair for the little guy. He looked at it dubiously and shook his head – nope, he’d rather sit in a normal chair, even if meant he couldn’t reach the pot in the middle of the table.

It was totally No Big Deal that we had brought children to a place where two pots of fondue and a bottle of wine totals 400 pesos. It didn’t matter that the table was set with delicate plates, nor that resting on top of the plates were sharp skewers perfect for stabbing tidbits of food (or eyeballs). It didn’t matter that there were multiple stemmed glasses at each spot or a clay pot of molten cheese resting precariously over a flame. Not one patron seemed bothered that there were niños.
The kids were well-behaved and seemed very welcome at the fondue house, and everyone ended up having a great time. The waitress and hostess laughed with us at the kids’ admiration, and successful use of, the nifty skewers as they sampled the dipping morsels. It turned out the littlest enano didn’t like the cheese sauce and ended up dining on bread and fruit, while the oldest was too preoccupied with visions of melted chocolate to focus on eating dinner, but that was ok. The kids’ happy, chocolatey faces made for an amazing night of fine dining with children. It was a perfect example of some of the reasons why parents should take their children out in public.