Todays blog has been brought to you by the letter "S". "S" as in "Solidaridad", my favorite word in the whole spanish language. There aren't many words in the spanish language that carry a weight or sentiment behind them the way there is in english but this is one of them. "Solidaridad" would be equivalent to english for "kinship" or "fellowship. And that is exactly what I got a sense of one fine day when two other girls and I took a day trip to the barrio of La Boca.
La Boca is one of those neighbourhoods that you visit once just so you can say you've been there. It is an important part of Buenos Aires history because it is the first place where the early italian immigrants settled in their endeavors to start a new life. They left colorful buildings, beautiful murals, and artwork all over the barrio. However mass marketing soon arrived on the scene and La Boca has become the ultimate tourist trap. My recommendation is to only go there if you have time to kill.
Solidaridad is the key to expat survival. Buenos Aires is a big friendly city where anyone will strike up a conversation with you but finding kinship is difficult on a level you cannot imagine. And the funny thing is that my two other Argentine friends agree even with the hundreds of people in their lives from friends, family, and church....friendliness and openess is one thing but trust and kinship is another thing. These girls made it very clear that everytime they are with me they get a sense of these things.
This is why we went to La Boca as a group of 3, not a group of 10.............solidaridad. Together we navigated the colorful buildings, took picture with the murals as a backdrop, posed under the lifelike statues, and laughed over hot chocolate and churros. I remember in 2009 when I tried hot chocolate and churros the veyr first time in Café Tortoni. Everything was so new to me then and the ignorant "gringa" in me didn't know that you were suppose to dip the churros in hot chocolate, that was the tradition :P But I am happy to report that since then I've been cured of my ignorance and this time when the churros and hot chocolate came, I reached for the churros and daintily dipped it in hot chocolate.
One of the best parts about hanging out with locals is the stories surface about peoples lives and background. This friend of mine, the one you see in the pic is actually adopted. In Argentina there are many mothers who are unable to take care of their babies and try and enlist someone to adopt their child. The adoptive mother of my friend had found one such woman and took the child from her, the girl who is my friend. This is the same girl who is working towards becoming billingual and I have many common interests in.
For the longest time I wondered why this girl sported an unusual passion for life. Argentines are not given the message at a young age to find your voice and fulfill your destiny. As a result, you'll find many of the youth hanging out in parks doing nothing. What made this girl different is that because of her adoption that resulted in a good life, she constantly thinks of the life that might have been, what would have happened if her biological mother kept her. Because of this she is passionate about life and appreciative of every moment and lives each moment to the max......not unlike me.
My first visit to the barrio of La Boca was in 2009 and for the two other
girls they had only been there once before. So for all of us it was our
2nd time round seeing the neighbourhood. The first time I came I was
rich material wise but the 2nd time around I was richer than the first
time because I had the very thing my heart had been longing for when I first came....solidaridad.