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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s Eve’

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When this trip is finished (which is a horrible thought), and we make the inevitable “top 10” list, we will find it really difficult not to include New Year’s Eve. I’ve said it before since we’ve been gone, but it continues to ring true that the most memorable moments so far have been the unexpected ones where we meet new friends and really experience the culture of the places we are visiting.

As I said in my last post, we were invited to our friend Maru’s parents’ house in a Buenos Aires suburb for dinner and the celebration of NYE. Now we just met Maru for the first time two weeks ago. She is a friend of a friend, and even though I met her one time about 10 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day in Dogtown (yeah, we both remembered that one), she was a stranger to us just a mere two weeks ago.

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The fact that we were invited to her family’s house for New Year’s Eve (a traditional family holiday in Argentina-at least until about 2am) was quite the honor. Once the invitation was extended, we didn’t even think twice before accepting, figuring this would be great fun and a wonderful opportunity to interact with and experience a new culture celebrating a holiday. As the day wore on Wednesday, I have to admit that we started getting a little nervous.

First, even though our Spanish is improving since we started taking Spanish classes, we were informed that Maru was the only person in her family who spoke Spanish (which turned out not to be true). Second, as I said before, this is a family holiday, and we both felt a bit intrusive going into someone else’s home (whom we have never met) to celebrate a holiday.

Our fears quickly disappeared upon our arrival though. We were made to feel not only completely welcome, but accepted with open arms. There weren’t even the usually inevitable awkward first moments when going to someone’s house whom you have never met. Sure, the conversation was a bit slow at first, especially considering the language barrier (which really wasn’t too bad), but her entire family was so gracious and really made an effort to include us in the conversation.

After the first couple hours of drinking wine and playing with the dogs and meeting new family members, it loosened up quite a bit. As we sat there, Megan and myself, Maru, her brother, mother, father, mother’s cousin, and her husband and daughter, it really dawned on me how similar people are, despite coming from completely different cultures.

This trip is a funny thing sometimes. We have experienced so many different things and so many cultural norms have seemed out of the ordinary, at least for us. But celebrating a holiday in a different country on a different continent in a different hemisphere was strangely familiar for us. We have missed our family and friends terribly during the last couple weeks, but driving in a car, to someone’s home, and spending a holiday with a family, doing the same types of things we do at home, was calming and just what we needed to cure our homesickness.

All typical things we associate with holidays at home were evident in Argentina as well. There was the mom making a ridiculous amount of food that could feed an army. There was the dad happy to be spending the holidays with his adult children, a smile that you only see on a happy father’s face. And of course, there was the family member who somehow gets made fun of and ribbed at every available opportunity, who takes it all in stride with a smile and a laugh, even if it’s coming from the foreigner who barely speaks his language. There was the champagne toast at midnight, the hugs, the kisses, and all things we associate with New Year’s Eve. It really made us feel like we were at home.

Even with all the similarities between home and Buenos Aires during the holidays, there were plenty of differences, too. For starters, it’s summer here. So the weather is a bit different than we’re used to for December 31. Shorts and t-shirts usually aren’t part of the attire. The fact that we ate dinner sitting out on a screened in porch, drinking red wine and eating empanadas was a bit out of the ordinary as well.

And the fireworks, oh, the fireworks. I wrote about the fireworks displays on Christmas Even, but those paled in comparison. It was nonstop, all around us, putting the Fourth of July to shame. There were all types of fireworks, big and small, but the type we liked the most were called Globos. The best way to explain a Globo is that it is kind of like a mini hot air balloon.

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After a huge dinner and desert, the actual ringing in of the New Year, the fireworks, and even more snacks, wine, and champagne, it was unfortunately time for us to leave.  Maru’s brother, Matti, was kind enough to be our designated driver and drive us back to our apartment on his way out for the “evening” (I hesitate to call it “evening” because it was about 2:15am).

We didn’t get back to our place until close to 3am, exhausted, full of food and wine, and happy.  Happy to have had such a wonderful evening.  Happy to have met some great, friendly people, happy to have a bit of normalcy back in our lives (or what counts for normalcy for us these days), and just happy and thankful to be doing what it is we’re doing.  This trip, although the best thing either of has ever done, can get a bit tough at times, but nights like  these remind us of how lucky and blessed we are to be able to travel like this.

So thank you Maru and family for an unforgettable evening.  It will be forever etched in our memories.  Happy New Year’s everyone!!

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