It's been a wild week for me. Coming home has been amazing, but there are so many things I miss about Argentina. It was a torturous decision to leave, but ultimately the right one. That doesn't mean there aren't things that still break my heart about it.
Here are the 18 things I miss most.
18. The meat. Yes, everything you've heard about Argentine beef is true. It's so good you want to die. I'll miss asado so very much.
17. Speaking Spanish. The ability to speak good Spanish is the second greatest achievement of my life, behind my kids. I love Spanish, and ache to use it everyday. There are some words that are just better in Spanish, like ganas, chocante, and barbaro.
16. The culture. Argentines are super opinionated, vivacious, and family oriented. They can make you want to pull your hair out, but ultimately, I found them easy to love.
15. Real soccer. I learned to love soccer living there, and there's no comparison between MLS and Primera A in Argentina. None.
14. My kids growing up bilingual. We'll work hard for them to learn Spanish, but I loved how they were on their way to speaking like native speakers. I firmly believe that learning a second language improves one's ability to reason and empathize. I still want that for my kids, but it'll be much more difficult here.
13. Working with extremely impoverished people. We'll still work with the poor here, but there is stark difference between Argentina poor and US poor. The people we worked with there were strapped to the railroad tracks of life, and our job was to pry them off before the train hit. Just last night, two families we were close to had their homes destroyed by fire. They had almost nothing, and they lost it all. Nothing could make me want to go back more.
12. Simplicity. There's less of a consumer culture in Argentina. Of course, much of that has to do with with economic issues, but in general, people have less and are less focused on acquiring things there. I miss that already.
11. The extra hour in the morning. There's a one hour time difference between Argentina and Indiana. While I'm glad that games will start earlier for me now, I will miss posting an article at 9 AM there, knowing it's up by 8 AM here.
10. The siesta. There's no point in trying to do anything from 1-4 PM. Everyone is at home eating and resting. Mandatory naps? What a country!
9. Mate. It's a bitter tea that Argentines drink communally. You can get it in the states, but it'll cost you. With a touch of sugar it can provide a great pick-me-up.
8. Dropping by uninvited. In Argentina, you just drop by. You don't call ahead. You don't worry about inconveniencing people. People want company, and you are never intruding.
7. McDonald's tastes so much better. Ok, so it might be the only viable fast food option, but the quality of the burgers there is off the charts.
6. The weather. Buenos Aires is like Atlanta. There are about 6 weeks a year of hot weather, 6 weeks a year of cold weather, and 40 weeks a year between 60-80 degrees. It's amazing.
5. Downtown Buenos Aires. Walking through the heart of the city is an amazing experience. It's a beautiful and spectacular place. We lived on the outskirts in the slums, but went downtown for vacations just to imagine we lived there. It's a must visit.
4. Besos. Argentines great each other hello and goodbye with a kiss on the cheek. It goes for men and women. It's warmer and friendlier than a handshake. For men, it fills that awkward gap between the handshake and the hug. You get used to it quick, and it actually makes you feel a quick kinship to others.
3. The neighborhood. Here in the northwest corner of Indy, there are residential neighborhoods, but you can't walk to any shops. In Argentina, the neighborhood is an integrated unit. There are always shops, and vegetable stands, and butchers, and everything you need within walking distance. That exists some places in the States, but it's ubiquitous in Argentina. Everything is based around shopping local.
2. Fireworks on New Years. There's nothing like it.
1. My friends. I'll miss a lot of people, but especially my best friend Meche. There's no way to replace people.