Thursday, January 12, 2006

Christmas in Buenos Aires

This past Christmas was very different than any other in my experience. For one thing, we missed the entire traditional all-American with European influence Christmas thing. No huge dinner at home; no massive pile of presents. Instead, we enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at a nice restaurant (Roof) about a block from our house. It was so much more relaxing. Shortly before midnight (the moment at which time most Buenos Aires inhabitants appear to finally to be awake) a large group of patrons began counting down the seconds, like we do in the U.S. on New Year’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight, everyone raised their glasses and cheered. Jingle Bell Rock erupted from the sound system and Santa Claus appeared from nowhere. Fireworks lit up the sky and we could hear and feel the concussions. A lot of us went outside for the show, which is not an organized display, but rather, seems to originate from everywhere. Out of space on my SD card, I ran home for a spare. It was somewhat surreal running down our vacant street, alone, under the light of the dim street lights and exploding rockets.

Back at the restaurant the Christmas music had been switched to some kind of Argentine folk dance that reminded me of the Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack. A lot people were dancing and we had little choice but to join them. Eventually we headed home, to bed, but not before stopping in for a nightcap at our neighbors, Jose and Mara. More champagne.

The next morning, Christmas Day, was remarkably quiet, interrupted only by the sounds of birds singing and chirping. All of the ambient noise of this dense city had evaporated, it place taken by silence. The sky was a strong blue and there was not a cloud to be found.


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