¡Bienvenidos a Argentina!

As I stepped off the plane wearing thick pants and carrying my winter coat, I quickly realized how obsolete my winter clothes would be here, at least for a while.  The immense heat was the first obvious difference I encountered between the United States and Argentina, one of many I’ve come across in my first week.  After making it through the long immigration lines and the taxi ride from Buenos Aires to La Plata, I finally met my host family, whom I will be living with for the next five months.  Of the three host families this semester, the Bacci house is the liveliest by far.  Although the only true residents are Eliana and her children Fransisca and Isidro, there are always at least five family members here, not including my roommate and myself. Most of the time there are even more than that around.  Throughout the day, we have an open door and many family members and friends pop in to chat over a mate (a very bitter tea that is common to share in a group setting).  Many nights, the entire family convenes here for dinner, including any combination of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, family friends, and any other familial connection you can think of.  Since everything is later here, these gatherings normally start in the evening to begin preparing dinner, which is served sometime between 10pm and 12am.  It’s always noisy from loud conversation and laughter, and there is most certainly never a dull moment in this house If I’m not getting pulled into the pool, then I’m learning to make homemade sushi by candlelight because the power is out.  The most interesting part of these gatherings is getting to talk with each person and hear their stories, many of them lighthearted and focused on topics such as recent soccer games or general gossip, but others much deeper, dealing with the country’s dark and recent experience with dictatorship.  For many Argentine families at the time, the dictatorship pierced permanent holes in the lives of its citizens with the frequent disappearance, torture, and assassination of leftist sympathizers. Other families, such as the one I am staying with, were forced into exile to flee the political violence.  What lightens this dark topic is to see that 33 years later, the country is still so alive and bubbly in spite of its gruesome past.  The society has been able to recover and move forward while remembering very clearly the events that took place in their country.  My host family is always friendly and open to talking about their history, however solemn they may be.   Already, from the huge support system I have in the family, as well as their welcoming and patient attitude, I feel like I have found a second home.

Bacci family plus La Plata squad enjoying a traditional asado

Bacci family plus La Plata squad enjoying a traditional asado

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