Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo desde Argentina! | Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Argentina!

Midnight on Christmas and New Years has always been marked by an
 outburst of fireworks set off by each house. The sky lights up and the sound is
 deafening, and they are set off for hours after midnight. To my
disappointment, fireworks have now been banned and this year was
 probably one of the last years we will see it.

For the past three weeks I have been in Cordobá, Argentina with my family enjoying the holidays with our relatives. Our days here have consisted of walking around the city, going to the pool, eating, having siestas, eating, seeing family, and eating. Highlights of the trip include going to see a performance of the provincial ballet, eating dulce de leche-filled facturas (amazing pastries --my favourite food down here!) and watching fantastic thunder and lightning storms. Additionally, a few days ago we drove out to a large lake where Cordobeses rent cabins to get out of the city; there was a persistent breeze that cut the weight of the hot days that preceded and horses wandered freely on the grassy banks –a lovely day in a picturesque landscape.

Every time I come to Argentina, I notice more and more the poverty and the inefficiency of the country. Bear in mind that this judgement is limited to the small pocket of Argentina that I have seen (Cordoba –the second largest city in Argentina--, the surrounding countryside, and Buenos Aires). In general, people here earn much less than we do in Canada yet their cost of living is the same or higher. The city is in a state of disrepair with sidewalks, buildings, and other infrastructure crumbling and becoming hazardous; I recently completed a class on human factors and Universal Design and let me tell you that the sidewalks here are quite inadequate (as a side note, while the sidewalks are not necessarily in good condition, I love their character –each house installs and maintains their portion of sidewalk and everyone uses a different material/pattern; therefore, as you walk you experience a diverse quilt of different textures and colours). I have been coming to Cordobá since I was born and it is interesting to see how my perspective changes. This time, I came with the eye of a (relatively inexperienced) designer and that is perhaps why I noticed more of the structural deficiencies of the country.

In Argentina, the large Christmas celebration happens on the 24th  where we
wait until 12am and toast, much like New Years. After that, all the kids 
rush to the tree to open presents. The 25th is often spent next to the
 pool with a full belly of Argentinian barbecue.

But of course, it is a wonderful place as well. The food is delicious, vibrant flowered trees line the roads, the countryside is gorgeous, and Argentinians put family indisputably before anything else. My uncle still goes to his parents’ house every day and Sundays are always devoted to getting the family together for lunch. The holidays here are not nearly as commercialized as in North America which means that Christmas and New Years are less about the traditional North American holiday activities and gift-giving and more about spending an evening with the family, celebrating another year passed. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to come here not only because I get to see my family and experience another culture, but also because it really puts into perspective how lucky I am to live on the West Coast of Canada.

Kwinten the KPU Eagle enjoying a licuado (an Argentinian smoothie).

I arrive in Barcelona tomorrow! My mother will be coming along with me and she is staying for the first couple of weeks. After I have school in the mornings we are going to explore the city, sketch along the way, and leave a trail of empty tapa dishes in our wake –oh, and homework, too ;).

Go indulge in something delicious today.

#travel #Argentina #Christmas #NewYears #KPUInternational #KPUStudyAbroad #KPU