Feliz año nuevo (Happy 2012!)

Yesterday I was mulling over my 2011 when I realized: I’ve been in Buenos Aires for four months! Incredible. I’m not going to pull any “seems like only yesterday” crap on you because it doesn’t feel like that at all– I’ve built up an extensive network of friends and contacts here, felt my brain stretched like Silly Putty as it accommodated a second language, and had my passport stamped in three different countries.

But the best part of all this is the realization that, as the year changes again, I am living exactly the life that I want in the pursuit of happiness in the present. All my life I was a planner– hey, I still am, you should see my next vacation itinerary– moving from the next step to the next objective to the next phase. I was always extremely goal oriented and disciplined. I’m not ashamed of that part of me, but it feels so freeing to recognize that, for the first time in my life, I am without a plan. I don’t mean to suggest I’m drifting; instead, I’ve been taking the time to prioritize the things that are important to me. These include a couple different writing projects, travel planning, improving my Spanish, and meeting more people. I am pursuing and relishing the mini-adventure that each day spent in these pursuits brings, because that is the only option, wherever I live.

So, happy 2012 to me!

I spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my compañeros y amigos. Let me tell you a little bit about the holidays here.

La Navidad

In Buenos Aires, the most important holiday celebration is on Christmas Eve, which usually consists of a large family dinner and gift exchange. A few of us in the house who were around for the holidays (Juli, Charlie, Joanna, and me) got together with our friend Leentje to cook a gluttonous meal of Belgian stew, au gratin potatoes, and homemade cinnamon ice cream with cheesecake.

Of course everyone got dressed up:

pretty girls: Juli y Leentje

me, Juli, Joanna, Leentje, y Charlie

appetizers (cigarettes included)

Coffee cheesecake made by Charlie! Seriously the best cheesecake I've ever had.

After stuffing ourselves with food and alcohol for a few hours, we watched the neighborhood come alive at midnight. Kids ran around in the street lighting firecrackers as the car alarms from a long line of cars shrieked and honked, set off by all the firework displays in the neighborhood. We spent the rest of the night leaning out over the terrace shouting “Feliz navidad!!” to anyone that walked by on the street.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a surprisingly family-oriented affair in Buenos Aires, with most people staying at home rather than go out. We started our evening by ordering a Colombian specialty that Juli found online:

Traditional Colombian New Year's Eve dinner: chicken stuffed with meat, vegetables, egg, and plums. Also: ensalada rusa (Russian salad?), otherwise known as potato salad. Yum.

After dinner we ventured out to Puerto Madero, where there promised to be a New Year’s Eve surprise. We took our time, goofing along in the streets…

Los Beatles

We arrived at the port a few minutes before midnight, and the party began right on time:

It was a lovely night with friends of all kinds.

Charlie, Joanna, me, Juli, y Lucky

Walter Bruce Lee y Charlie

5 thoughts on “Feliz año nuevo (Happy 2012!)

  1. I want to hug this post. Well, and you too, of course. Everything you said about pursuing happiness made my heart sing. I am so happy for you! XOXO

    • The port is full of ’em– red and yellow giraffes. One of my German friends here told me that they’re all old cranes imported years ago from a German company known for making high-quality cranes.

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