A few weeks ago a friend of mine organized a weekend away on his family´s farm. It was a great time and included lots of meals around the table, playing shark in the pool, and riding horses. One morning I woke up with the birds and went to the paddock with my friend, A, who grew up on the campo. He helped me tack up my horse, pointed out the paths between the soy and corn plants and then sent me galloping. The perfect romance of the scene bordered on the ridiculous: a terribly blue sky, cowboy boots, and the sound of horses hooves on a dirt road; what really sealed the deal was losing my ponytail holder and feeling my hair gently flap behind me with the three beats of my horses canter. Back at the ranch I got to play out a few girlhood fantasies as a cow hand.
**Please note for the squeamish and some vegetarians the photographs below are graphic.
Finally, I got to experience a meal from start to finish; from pasture to plate. As a meat eater I think it’s important to know the process to be able to withstand the whole kill-an-animal part of it. And I did. I saw the lamb scurrying around the paddock, watched it bled from a swift cut to the jugular, and observed closely as Roberto, the farm hand, made incisions in just the right spot to easily skin the beast by maneuvering his fist between the skin and muscles.
When you´re not accustomed to seeing your meat butchered it can be quite an assault on one’s modern sensibilities, I suppose. But I am pleased to report that I didn’t flinch much, – but of course, I wasn’t the one putting the knife to flesh. And that’s my next step; now I´ve observed and next it’s time to do it myself…
The meal, by the way, was more thandelicious.
Here are some pictures from start to finish.
Yesterday, I spent my first birthday in Buenos Aires. It was my first birthday free of winter coats and hats and it´s lovely, a summer birthday. I started the festivities the night before, making an experimental cheesecake for the mini-fete for the night of my birthday. I don´t have an oven in my apartment and a very gracious friend of mine offered her oven in her new apartment. She hasn´t yet moved in yet, so we had to do a lot of experimenting with cooking tools (not to mention the experimental ingredient substitutes). It was a lovely evening catching up, melting butter in a roasting pan, and crushing amaretto cookies with a wine bottle. Being the wonderful friend that she is, she even walked me to my bus stop to go home. Warm faux-cheesecake on my lap, I took in my new city rolling by through the bus window.
I woke up with the hot hot sun on my birthday, made a coffee and went out to run some internet errands. (I have been back for a week now, and spent that whole time, without my computer (the battery and charger died), – my god, did I ever feel naked.) The internet brought me lots of good news, birthday wishes from friends and Facebook (ha! it´s so funny who comes out of the wood work to say Happy Birthday!), and a lunch invitation. I then went and had lunch with a friend (who informed me I´d be getting a bicycle!!).
Next in the series of good moments, I picked up my computer and then went off to a meeting at a Museum that we´re in the process of writing a grant for a project I wrote. The meeting went really, really well. It felt really great to talk to people here about museum education and share similar educational philosophies and pedagogical ideas. And it happened that two of the people I had met two years ago on my reconnaissance trip were at the meeting (full circle).
After the meeting I walked home through a few beautiful parks and went to my favorite deli to pick up some food for the evening. I got some delicious prosciutto, smoked and cured filet mignon, a camambert, a manchego and olives. At home I set up my new speakers* to my wifi, and the lay spread of food for my 17 guests. Everyone arrived at around 10pm, and it was a great evening. An odd mix Argentines and expats, mostly unknown to each other. When it was the time for the cake everyone sang Feliz Cumple, I blew out the lighter (no candles, oops), and then got a kiss from everyone in the room. We ended the evening playing celebrity (boys vs. girls), a really interesting experience considering the cross-cultural nature of the group. The boys kicked our ass. That´s ok.
I even got some nice gifts. A plant picked perfectly for my patio; my neighborhood friend (a painter and art teacher) gave me a painting that she painted; and my cousins gave me a perfect bag and a fancy wallet. Sometimes I feel embarrassed by such generosity, but I am letting myself enjoy it. The whole evening was a great welcome back to Buenos Aires.
So, thanks to everyone for the fun last night. And thanks to you all who sent me birthday wishes from far away. Kisses to everyone.
*thanks dear brother and his lovely wifey
Genetic nostalgia is suffered by second generation immigrants defined as children of immigrant parent(s). The onset of the disorder has been found in children as young as 8 or 9, however cases of late-onset genetic nostalgia have been identified.
Early symptoms of the disorder include extreme curiosity on the birthplace of the parents, and over-identification with the foreign state. This can manifest itself in the form of ´country reports´on the parental birthplace for fourth grade social studies projects which can include, but are not limited to diorama´s of the parental birthplace, and map tracings of the nation-states geographic or political boundaries.
If the individual visits the foreign country during the mid-childhood developmental years long-term nostalgia enzymes are produced which often results in an interminable case. Adult symptoms include geographic ideation and myth-making in early adulthood. Common indicators of the symptoms include obsessive viewing of craigslist real esate listings of the nation-state, obsessive country-specific blog reading, and all-too frequent vacations to the parental birthplace.
There is no known cure for genetic nostalgia. If the case becomes totally unmanageable there is little recourse, however if symptoms persist for more than 2 years there is one possible course of action: geographic relocation. There have been few studies on the effectiveness of this remedy and it is extreme, but in some cases moving to the land-object of desire is possibly the only cure for breaking the myth of genetic nostalgia.
It´s the little things that I love. Those things in your landscape of every day that so easily go unnoticed. Take the trash, for example, not every depository is the ubiquitous mangled tin where once Oscar lived. Here are a few receptacles, porteño style. Notice their vermin-free design.