Experiencing a new culture is both frightening and exciting. You can either hate the culture or love it. I would say that choosing to travel to Argentina was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. The culture, the people, the country is nothing but good vibes.
Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world; the second largest in Latin America; and the largest Spanish-speaking country in South America. It is home to many of the greatest footballers in the world: Alfredo Di Stéfano, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi. While living in a new country, you get to pick out little things and habits that you find different from your culture back at home.I know many of you at this point are wondering: why Argentina? How? Well, let me not stretch your curiosity any further and cut in to the glory details of whom, why, what and when- the Argentine edition.
Strathmore University policy requires that during every long holiday, students have to do their internship in any company related to the course they are currently studying. This being the case, my friends and I decided to approach one of our Strathmore law school lecturers who hails from Argentina. Our Argentine lecturer, Mr. Santiago Legarre had started a program where each year he would offer his “favorite” students an opportunity to do their Legal Practice Attachment in Argentina.
Before I even get to my experiences, the one thing that I did not expect was how long the journey was going to be. Travelling for eighteen hours on an airplane is all fun and games until you realize that you cannot feel your legs. The upside of this however was that my friend Mary and I were really excited and could not wait to explore Buenos Aires for the next two months. We had high hopes of getting boyfriends and even husbands if we were lucky.
Introductions aside, the first thing that stood out with the Argentines is their way of greeting. Most of us from Kenya and Africa either greet people with our hands and if the love is real we go in for a hug; Nothing more, nothing less. The Argentines however, kiss your cheek from the first time they meet you whether they know you or not. At first I was shocked beyond words; I did not know what to do. Should I kiss them back? Should I say thank you for the kiss? What amount of pressure should I put on the kiss? At what angle should my kiss be? Let’s just say it took me more than two weeks to change my response from standing still to tilting my head and getting ready for the kiss. This form of greeting is something that I will definitely take back to Kenya.
After the Argentines gently kiss your cheek and welcome you into their country with a nice smile, one of the first questions they usually ask you is whether you have a boyfriend. Yes, they really do. I have come to the conclusion that all Argentine people are match makers, with Mr. Santiago being their leader. Everyone was asking us if we were single everywhere we went,. Being the little curious cat that I am, I decided to do my own investigation. I know being single can be tiring sometimes but was it that evident that we had been single for so long? Anyways, I came to realize that Paris is in fact not the city of love, but our very own Buenos Aires. When you enter the bus you see a couple sitting together, holding hands and sharing an empanada. When you’re walking in the park, you see young couples, laughing together and being clearly in love. There is love in the air; too much that I would have to say these people barely breathe in oxygen. This is why they wanted to know whether we were single, so that they can come through and help us find boyfriends either short-term or long-term. It is safe to say that, many men were intrigued by us; I mean we are literally dripping melanin and honey. Mary actually had several boyfriends. I hope they will stay in touch.
East or West, food is best. There is no true love without food. The first time I tasted dulce de leche, I was mesmerized. I couldn’t believe it; it’s been long since I felt love like this. If any of you has not fallen in love then I promise you dulce de leche will do the trick. Leave your boyfriends, your girlfriends, sponsors and ‘mpango wa kandos’. Dulce de leche is multi-purpose. It can be used as cake icing, bread spread and some people even say that it can be used for curing diseases! You honestly have not lived if you have not tasted dulce de leche. If only my airplane luggage limit would permit me, I would buy a whole suitcase full of dulce de leche. Another type of delicacy in Argentina is the empanada.These are a kind bread pastry that can have different types of fillings in them. It can be meat, ham and cheese, onions, basically anything that can fit inside it. I can truly say that God should bless Santi’s mother Sussy, who introduced us to all these things on the very first day in Argentina. She is truly heaven sent.
Every country has its own version of the good and the ugly. I would say that it all depends with the company that you keep. If you concentrate on the bad you will miss out on the memories and for that, I thank Mr. Santiago and his family for accommodating us in their beautiful home and helping us experience Argentina like true Latinos. A special shout-out to Catalina, who is Santiago’s sister, for her warm and outgoing personality that made it so easy to have fun and relate with her. Forever Young!
Taria Trixy Wafula
Fourth year law student