I spent this past weekend in Mendoza, Argentina. It is 13 hours by bus from Buenos Aires (and yes, I took an overnight bus). I was very excited to get out of the city for a bit, as Mendoza is located at the base of the Andes Mountains. The buildings are shorter, the air is cleaner, and the vibe of Mendoza is much more tranquilo than Buenos Aires.
On Saturday, I went on a high mountain tour of the Andes. It was a beautiful 70 degrees on Friday, and Saturday was predicted to be in the mid-60s and rainy. As my bus went higher and higher into the mountains, the temperature dropped. Rain turned to snow in an instant. It was a surprise snowstorm – not even our guide was prepared! Though I was completely freezing and couldn’t really see the famous views from the top of the mountains, the snow was incredibly enchanting.
This past summer, one of my good friends from Belmont went on the School of Business study abroad trip to Mendoza. He made some good friends there, and passed on my contact information to them. We met up on Saturday night, and all day Sunday these two wonderful women, Verena and Belu, showed me around their beloved Mendoza. I am completely blown away by the fact that I can say I have friends all over the world. On Sunday, the ladies took me out for a traditional Argentine lunch – we ordered a dish called “mata hambre” … translated, “kill hunger”. All I could say as I ate this entrée was “Que rico!” (How tasty, how good!). The bottom layer of the dish consists of tender pork that has been marinated and soaked in milk to make it tender. On top of the pork is salsa (tomato sauce), then a layer of cheese and oregano, topped off with French fries. It definitely killed my hunger, and when my family comes to visit me here, we’re most definitely going to order mata hambre.
Oddly enough, the best part of my weekend trip was returning home. I was not excited at all to get on the bus at 8pm on Sunday night, but I was able to sleep most of the ride! I woke up around 8am for the bus breakfast (consisting of a muffin and some tea), and watched as we approached Buenos Aires. As I began to see streets and buildings I recognized, my heart felt full. The tall buildings, the congested streets, the hurried people once again filled the streets. But I wasn’t wishing that I was still in Mendoza, I felt so happy to be home.
And then I realized it. I had just effortlessly thought (for the first time since being there) that this is home.
Upon retrieving my luggage, I found my bus home (number 106), and once again enjoyed that I recognized many streets and buildings as we approached my neighborhood. I was also incredibly proud that I knew what bus to take and which bus stop was mine. I saw Avenida Araoz, rang the bell to alert the driver I was going to get off, and stepped on to Avenida Scalabrini Ortiz. I walked to Gorriti, turned left, and then turned right onto my street….Armenia. As I walked with all my luggage and quite a hair-do after the 13 hour bus ride, I couldn’t help but smile.
I pulled out the keys to my house, walked up our flight of stairs, and was greeted by my host-mom, who was eager to hear about my trip. I took my luggage to my room, plugged in my phone, and flopped on my bed. I was home.
When I came here on August 2nd, I didn’t think I was going home. All I knew was that I was in a giant city, with a family I didn’t know, living in a neighborhood I knew nothing about. The public transportation system was incredibly overwhelming – I was intimidated to take a bus or the Subway anywhere. Now, taking a bus or the Subway is part of my daily routine. No matter where I am, I know which bus to take to get home.
I love this place. I love this crazy city. I love my new home. I love the people that are starting to make this place home – my family, my friends, and the children I’m teaching.
My intent with this blog was to consistently write every other week. I do well with routine, and I thought that’d be enough. But in attempting to stick to my schedule, I feel I’ve shortchanged the opportunity of having this blog and filling you all in. For this reason, I’m going to write tomorrow and Thursday as well, to fill you all in on my volunteer teaching and many other things I’ve experienced since being here.
Thank you for all your support. Nashville still has a place in my heart as home, but I am thankful that Buenos Aires is home for now.