mayo 25, 2004

Happy Holiday

Hola, compatriotas –

¡Feliz 25 de mayo! For those of you not familiar with your Argentine history, it’s the anniversary of winning the revolution for independence. In the States I (and I think most of us) find revolutionary war history mind-numbing, but the Argentines are shockingly gung-ho about it. In only four months, both Randy and I have learned the names of all the generals involved. We spent all day in Plaza de Mayo listening to the most famous Argentine musicians playing, buying grilled meat from street vendors, watching tens of thousands of flags waving, and drinking hot chocolate distributed by military convoys. No, really, the military spends all day handing out hot chocolate. In truly Latin American fashion the line for hot chocolate was over a block long. The president invites a group of schoolkids to drink hot chocolate and eat fried sweets in the Casa Rosada. Teams of other schoolkids set up shop in the street and challenge passersby to chess matches while families dance all through the plaza; all in all, a damn cute celebration. Tonight’s big concert was canceled because of rain, but I loved to see the front of the government house turned into a huge outdoor stage, just between a bronze statue of General San Martin and the balcony where Madonna so famously addressed a crowd of poor Argentine extras. Can you imagine George W. Bush inviting 200,000 people to chill out on the south lawn of the White House? By the way, the Argentine government has co-opted me according to the block-long banner proclaiming, “We are all Argentines!” Not so bad in my book.

I realized that I only have a little over two months left here so I’m really re-energized about getting out to do all the oh-so-Argentine things. Last week we watched Boca, our fútbol team, get squashed by their arch-rival. The staff at our parrilla (grill) is divided between teams, so the majority of River fans chides us every time we go in (about three times a week), while the Boca fans slide by whispering, “Viva, Boca!” And on the note of the parrilla, I went out with a bunch of friends last night to see a dinner show with a pretty bad tango singer backed by a karaoke machine. But the dancing was good.

Hope all’s well with you yanks, enjoying your beautiful spring weather. It’s been raining a lot here and I have to wear a heavy sweater every day now. Yet it never freezes. Having grown up in the southeast, I didn’t understand what humidity does for cold, just for heat. Until soon.