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Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Sneaky Sudden Sense of Saudade

"Saudade" is one of the most interesting words in the linguistic world.  Linguist and scolars have written blogs and articles about this portuguese word saying that it is unique and untranslatable.  I don't have the time or energy to write a detailed essay on all the marvels of this word but you can certainly google it for yourself and do your research and see what you come up with.  But at a very basic level, "Saudade" might be translated as to yearn for or miss someone or something.  A closer definition of "saudade" means to feel longing for a place, person that you once had but will never return to you again.

If I were to pick one whole word in the world today that sums up my feelings about my relationship with Argentina it would be this very word "saudade", especially being that today is the 1 yr anniversary to which I ended life abroad and landed back in Canada.  Yes indeed, it has already been a year. Jan 15, 2014 my plane touched down in Vancouver International Airport and one chapter of my life closed and another began.

My relationship between Argentina and Canada is quite comparable to a passionate love affair. Argentina was the new lover that I took on after a messy complicated relationship with Canada didn't work out. But what began as a dream turn into a nightmare and I found myself breaking up with my "partner" and returning to my ex (that being Canada), and finding that my ex has completely reinvented itself and done an overhaul, thus making a new relationship possible.

The truth is that I'm at a crossroad between happiness in my new life in my old country and the bittersweet nostalgia that resides within my heart at a south american country that has gone in a direction that no one could have seen coming. What am I talking about some of you wonder?

I'm talking about a country where the USD used to exchange at 1:4 now trades at 1:13 through the black market.   A country where it is estimated Argentines are hiding more than $50 million USD under their mattresses and in the floors of their homes.  A country where inflation is so bad that shops no longer put up the sign with prices on it knowing that in 3 days they'll have to cross it out and put up a new price. A country where every summer electricity goes out and people are left without power city wide because the country cannot even pay to keep the power on.  A country that is now on a witch hunt recently passed Xenophobic laws resulting in the persecution, discrimination, and deportation of foreigners.  Argentina needing someone to blame for its problems, has now made it legal to interrogate, ban, and demand evidence from any foreigner wanted to cross into its borders.

Where a  sense of "saudade" sneaks in is when I relive the memories of when my feet first touched Argentine soil.  People laughing and drinking mate in the streets, the sound of tango music flowing as I browsed through the Sunday San Telmo Markets. In that day no one was begging on the streets hungry for USD due to fear and paranoia. Saudade.....the yearning for a place or moment you once had but will never have again. 

As bittersweet as it has been to be torn away from everything I love and be resettled into a happy new life in Canada, there has been an incredible silver lining to my being outside of Argentina.  That being that I'm more help to my friends over here than I would be over there stuck in the same situation as them.  Today being the 1 yr anniversary of my start in  Canada, I wanna end with an inspiring story.

Some of you who have read my blog for a long time know about this woman who I dearly love and who I consider my Argentine mother.  She was my first and longest relationship, someone I've known since the very beginning stages of my Argentine adventure. Anyway, to explain some backstory here she ended up in a complicated situation where her family went to Uruguay but her relationship didn't work out. She ended up coming back to Argentina with her daughter and her son was still living with his father in Uruguay.

One yr after she came back to Argentina in March 2014 when I had come back to Canada I find out that she is booked in April to go to Uruguay to see her son.  Her family had been torn apart and she was devastated inside. I felt a deep level of compassion for her and so I ended with a little surprise for her by telling her I've sent $300 USD via western union waiting for her when she lands in Uruguay.

She was overjoyed because that money, as little as it may be here in Canada is ALOT for an Argentine.  That money ended up paying for the ticket that she had booked to and from Uruguay and also provided spending money for things she badly wanted and needed for her son. She was able to buy new clothing, take her son to amusement park and do things that would have been out of reach. But the story didn't stop there.....

There was still some USD left over so she kept it and saved it because USD are impossible to come by in Argentina.  One day recently I asked her how much of it she had left and she replied "None of it". Then she explained to me that in Oct, 6 mths after her trip to Uruguay at one point a family decision was made to bring the boy back to Argentina.  And what was left of the $300 I had given her was what paid for his ticket and brought him home.  Without those USD, bringing him home would have been a hard blow economically for that family.  With all her kids under one roof they had a very merry Christmas indeed.

As painful as it is being away from those that I love, there is a deep sense of joy and satisfaction tht wells within my soul knowing that my presence outside of the country gives me the ability to help loved ones in ways I could never help them if I were still there.  With stories like these that my heart can cling to for comfort, I can honestly reconcile the 2 countries, 2 worlds, the 2 lives I've lived even if I have to wake up to the somewhat sad sense of "saudade" lingering in the air all day everyday......

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas