I sit listening to my favorite melancholy blues song thinking I will feel a sense of sadness and longing for home… yet oddly I only feel the familiar mystery I usually get from the song. I have begun to understand my surroundings as if I have been here for months already. All my life I never thought I would actually be here, sitting in this new home in Argentina, feeling in myself: whole, appreciative, and loved. I have begun to walk the streets and attend school with a proud, confident attitude. However there still exists that small feeling of insecurity as I ride the bus in the early morning darkness to school. In fact a tear rolled down my face as I remembered my familiar bus ride to school in New York only a few months ago. These memories and glimpses back into my past do make me unsure and melancholy, however I have realized in the beginning of this journey so many opportunities which back home, with that familiarity, I would lack. Everything beams with possibility, excitement, something so new and different from the 16 years I have spent in my small town.
Graffiti covers the walls in the streets, but only to give them a more artistic feel. The cozy bus darts past hundreds of busy people all with different, unique stories underneath their shells. So many people, it is incredible. Some wear tall leather boots, others don their school uniforms with layers upon layers of winter wraps to envelop them from the cold. Everywhere I hear, some familiar, other unfamiliar, Spanish words exiting the mouths of noisy Argentinians. As any girl would do, I scan the bus seats for pretty-faced Argentinean boys, stopping on one with scruffy, dark hair and encompassing eyes. With a quick smile my eyes return to the dust-covered windows of the bus to anxiously examine the many aspects of the grand Mendoza.
One of my favorite places so far in this beautiful city is the famous San Martin Park. This huge park is laced with irrigation ditches dating back to the early 1900s that serve as the source of water for the many thirsty trees and plants throughout the park. Otherwise the park would simply consist of desert and dirt. During my afternoon here, I found in every direction couples, circles of friends, and families enjoying the atmosphere with the common “costumbre” or custom of drinking yerba mate in the afternoon. Yerba mate is a unique green tea, harvested in South America, which is commonly consumed in the loose-leaf form through a filter straw that you place in a mate gourd or mug. The tea has the affect of coffee and caffeine but also provides you with vital vitamins and nutrients from the leaves. This sacred custom has helped me to appreciate simple pleasures shared with one’s family and friends. A time during the busy day devoted entirely to interaction and socialization with loved ones.
In the background of the park exists a picturesque view of the enormous Andes mountain range protecting and surrounding all of Mendoza. With snow lightly frosting the peaks of the mountains and soft, cushioned clouds gracing the lower half of them, the view is captivating. Although I can see my breath in the cold air in front of me, the intense visual masterpiece directs my attention elsewhere. I breath in and smile, realizing these next four months could be what I need to change my life in the most positive of ways.
Even now, so early in my experience here in Argentina, I am beginning to feel this great sense of independence and release from selfishness and longing, which I sometimes was overcome by in my own country. It is difficult to think only about yourself when you have so many new people to understand, please, and appreciate. I have new goals to discover and embrace which keep my mind from wandering to the lonesome aspects of missing home. Each day I devote a great deal of my attention and patience to understanding and further learning a new language. I have also come to realize that there are so many people in this world to share love with, that there is little reason to shed tears over longing for your family back home. While yes, you will always hold a unique vessel in your heart for your original family; there still remains a great deal of room for more love and discovery. This new family whom I have found, shares its own great adoration and compassion for each other and me that at first I thought possible only with one’s blood relatives. This experience has opened my heart, mind, and soul to so many new opportunities and abilities that I truly believe will mold a once naïve Jordain into a wiser and better person.