I guess I should talk about my move back to El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula. Heck, that name reads like a blond, overly made-up character on a telenovela, but my city is deserving of such a grand epithet.
Buenos días Córdoba. The lovely Rio Suquia that flows through the city, oftentimes with a wino wandering her unkept, concrete banks.
Had I stayed just a few months longer it would have been two years that I would have spent in Argentina. My original plan was to see how long I could stick it out in another country. It could have been six months, it could have been six years. My existence in Argentina and my relation to LA seemed more of a Schrödinger’s Cat type of deal, where nothing happened unless I got a phone call from one of my friends. A lot was happening: my brother had a baby, one of my closest friends got married and I wasn’t available to give the requisite drunken speech that revealed too much information on her single days. Life was passing me by because Argentina, especially sleepy little Córdoba wasn’t my place. I left without much hoopla, I am bad at saying goodbye. The last days I spent drinking mate and eating facturas with people I wanted to see for the last time.
- A really neat building a block away from the apartment
The last few weeks Córdoba seemed less quaint and more close- minded. With every day that passed I smiled to myself that I would not have to deal with an apartment that flooded even if it rained for only 20 minutes, the loud fireworks and maybe some homemade bombs that went off as various labor unions and political organizations marched down the main avenue where we lived, and the uncomfortable stillness of feeling trapped in time. I needed to do something other than teach English, which was great for meeting new people, but paid poorly and not a longterm goal of mine. I needed to see my friends and family before anyone died or face some other life altering event.
The lake at Parque Sarmiento
Argentina taught me some important lessons through the people that surrounded me and accepted me in their lives not as just another Yankee (as they call us folk from los Uniteds) who was going to attempt a CIA-backed golpe de estado or coup d’état. I learned how to cook some local dishes, how to throw some serious dinner parties, and how to exchange curse word laden, trucker pleasantries with even the most macho of men. On a more profound level, I learned to value interpersonal relationships over individualism. Americans take “me time” too seriously, but many of my fondest memories involve sharing some mate, a bottle of Malbec, or the asado favorite, wine with Pritty soda, but the keyword was sharing. In Argentina, it seemed nobody actually bothers to schedule in, or actually jot down time in their Google calendar to see their friends; friends just show up and a boring afternoon or evening turns into a joke filled gossip-card game playing-counseling session that extends well past midnight. Signing up for a Saturday afternoon writing workshop meant that I probably wouldn’t go home until 3 a.m, as communal picadas were prepared and everybody pitched in for some Fernet and Coca-Cola.
My last night in Argentina I ate a choripan, which is a chorizo on French bread oozing chimichurri, all kinds of pickled veggies, and olives. By the time I had left, I had my favorite chori cart (because it had green and black olives) that was parked at the end of Parque Sarmiento, overlooking the houses of Barrio San Vicente. A good chori cart in Argentina is just as important as a good taco truck in California; a rapid, reliable late-night source of nourishment after being up in the club that stains the sidewalk with grease, assuring you that your hangover won’t be too bad the next day. It could also be a great way to earn back your calories after a workout in the park.
“There is nothing better than a good chori.”
Early in the morning the taxi drove from Córdoba Capital to the airport in the outskirts of the city; the vacant lots, and albergues transitorios (pay-by-the-hour motels, wink, wink) rolled by like a tumbleweed in a lonely cowboy song. I looked out the window as the plane flew over the imposing snow covered Andes dotted with little blue lakes, and got tossed around by a bit of turbulence as airplanes are wont to do when they are faced with the task of crossing the mountains whose white peaks are so pointy they look like they are reaching up to poke a hole in anything flying over them. I was glad to be home, as I passed blocks lined with diners, strip malls, and palm trees, and then finally into my bed. It was almost as if nothing had even happened.
My favorite song by Rodrigo El Potro