On the coming August 16th, we will have had 149 days of isolation and mandatory social distancing dictated by the Argentine government. I believe that here in Argentina, because of that, we will always have something to say about this quarantine. It has been made up of two stages, one stricter than the other. Each person has felt the effects of each of these stages, I know because I am living in it and hearing it from others.
There are days that we love being at home in pajamas, especially since it is winter here. There are days that we enjoy not having to leave to classes, to work or take care of to-do lists. Yet there are also days that we miss our family...and I don't only refer to being related by blood, but also those who over time have become family.
In general, I am reminded of the customs that are missed the most during this time, like drinking mate with someone while talking about the current events, politics, or issues of life, or going out for coffee, spending the afternoon reading or visiting with friends; we miss being part of our book clubs or a social gathering, or walking through the park where there have always been art displays of some kind. Yes, Buenos Aires is a land that abounds with art everywhere you go.
Here you even feel the absence of the traveling artists when you take a train or subte (subway), where it was always nice to hear a tango, iconic rock or folklore song as you traveled home. It is so strange not to hear even a sole voice ringing out in the characteristic Argentine way because it has now been silenced by a mask.
I think about how much it's missed to have a cookout with family and friends (un asado- much more than a simple barbeque. It is part of every Argentine family, a gathering over a delicious meal with a variety of meats cooked over an open fire.) There are stories that are told as you sit around as the meat is grilled, the sharing of anything and everything. Sharing is key, because if there's anything you need to know about the Argentine, it's that they're friendly, open and everyone is invited to the table. Don't expect them to serve your plate, you might not get served because they expect you to be a part of the family, do your part and serve yourself. The Argentine is friendly, because for many years, he has welcomed visitors and immigrants to his table, for years has had to adapt to changes in politics, sports (futbol), crisis, new customs etc. He is someone who loves his own but is not closed to what's new or unknown. He enjoys History and Philosophy, knows how and enjoys a good debate, and believes in many things, including God. The Argentine people speak what they think and are up front. I watched a video that said the following:
They love swapping words so much that call a scholar a "beast" and a soccer player a "genius".
(I also remember that they say " it's bad" when something is good, something I learned when I first arrived.) When asked for a favor, they don't just say "yes", they say "why not". They are the only people that begin their sentence with a "No", and when someone thanks them, they respond, "no, it's nothing" or "n0, please."
For sure, the Argentine is all this and much more.
They have their defects, like everyone, but each time I think about them and about Argentina, it's hard not to love them and this country.
This September will be 8 years here for me. I feel like such a part of this place, as if it were my own because they have opened up their doors to me. I feel at home here. It is part of God's creation and I praise Him because in each person, nationality, and culture, we can spot signs of His image. Because of that, we can see Him and praise Him for who He is and what He's made.
Writing on this topic makes me miss even more these customs of Argentina that are in quarantine. The customs and passions like futbol are in waiting, and so I want to share a video from the AFA, (Association of Argentine Futbol) that encourages this culture to keep staying home until they can finally get back to what makes them so unique.
The following is a translation of the video more or less :)
Nobody becomes a Champion alone
Not even Diego in '86 with that amazing goal in the finals... wouldn't have gotten the cup by himself, right? Kempes had Fillol and Argentina has you, and needs you to win.
Today we have the hardest match in our history, the most difficult that we have gone against. Do you know why? Because Argentines don't know what it is to miss.... until now.
We miss our parents, we miss our friends, our brothers, our nieces and nephews, or our love. It's never crossed our minds that two powerful teams like Italy or Spain could lose the game before us. And how it hurts....because our team is our children and grandchildren and all of them. This doesn't stay here. For this reason, listen up, pay attention to the capitans of the team that have made it decision, respect the distance, don't go out everywhere, stay on offside and don't throw off the team that has closed in, concentrating for days....to win. Don't argue in the chat, because the game is long and cliques and divisions don't win the game. Look at all the people that are keeping you out there... there are doctors and policemen that put themselves on the line every day in case you get hurt. Don't everyboday climb all over each other. In Argentina, there's more than enough space. Touch, but no hands! Widen the field, spread out every chance you can, because even though it seems that the rival doesn't appear, it's very dangerous at his hour of attack. And you? Wouldn't give up our two cups to win this one? Think about your parents and grandparents when all this is over and you're not on your knees praying. Let's go Argentina, this is serious, cost what it may, this game we can win playing as a team. Because in this country, there's a force stronger that any pandemic, that of once again finding ourselves together on the field and any other place. Stay at home.
+All photos taken from Unsplash