Deep Breath

It’s over 400!

The next class I take will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina

I finished my three month of Spanish 201, 202, and 203 yesterday. That supposedly means I am fluent enough in Spanish that I can go to a Spanish speaking country and not die. There are still quite a few words that I don’t know: soap, toilet paper, solid, liquid, step, open to the side, sausage, carrot, tomato…maybe it’s mostly food.

It’s a still day in Bellingham today, humidity greying the sky, and tthe distinct lack of rain is turning the grass yellow. Since class ended, I’m thinking about packing, reviewing my Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and maybe even squeezing in some more exercise before leaving. None of that says goodbye to Bellingham though. I still want to go blackberry picking, get soft serve ice cream, go to one last milonga, watch the sun set over the bay, read more Spanish short stories, and maybe even finish my most recent edit on my most recent book. I need to say goodbye to more people.

I’m starting a travel blog

Everyone has highly recommended that I start a travel blog. Buenos Aires is about four hours ahead of Washington state time, and I think about seven hours behind my friend Birgitta in Russia. The city population is almost 2.9 million. That’s 2.7 million more people than I’m really used to having in a city. I’ve heard most people in BA speak a little English and Italian, but my plan is to speak as much Spanish as possible. The idea that I’m going to go somewhere and talk to people using words I learned just under a year ago seems pretty crazy to me. I love that there are so many languages that are filled with a  rich cultural background, though it’s a little funny considering how bad so many people are at expressing themselves in one language, let alone two.

Most who know me, know that I started learning tango just before I started high school. Last September I started learning Spanish to make this trip to Argentina a reality so I could dance tango where tango started. Initially, I planned to go to Argentina after I finished with university, but in the winter I decided I needed to leave the country as soon as possible, that if I didn’t start fulfilling my dreams now, I never would. Argentina seems like a good place to start. Next I’ll just have to publish two books and a group of poetry.

The history of Argentina is pretty cool too, it’s more than just tango…at least people tell me that sometimes. The country’s early history sounds a little similar to the United States; a bunch of Europeans came over and shot the natives, and suddenly there was a place they could live! For the last one-hundred years or so, this thing called tango has become pretty popular down there and around the world at large. In 1976, a dictatorship took over Argentina until 1983 in what is called The Dirty War. Effects of the war are still felt today when young men and women discover their parents were “subversives” who were killed, and then the military gave them to a new family to raise them to agree with the dictatorship’s actions. That doesn’t go over very well. Some of Argentina’s most popular exports are leather and beef. My father, a man who loves to live vicariously through his sons, gleefully tells me after asking anyone about Argentina, that the women there are beautiful, and I ought to watch out.

Biking

Okay, while I’ve been writing this, there’s a family trying to teach this little kid in a blue helmet to ride a red bike without training wheels for the first time. Every time the kid is set up and ready to go, his arms slump, let go of the handlebars, and he lets out a yell of anguish. Several yells. He’s terrified, probably about to learn one of the most important life skills for a Bellinghamster, and he just wants to stay in his comfort zone. Isn’t that what every big step feels like? And what if you get burned? At first the kid was all for it, and he immediately bit the dust and fell down. Like this kid though, everyone grows and becomes a better person by pushing their own boundaries and expanding their comfort zone. Heck, writing a blog is uncomfortable for me. It feels narcissistic. That’s nothing compared to Argentina though; Argentina is skydiving for the first time, everything I do there I will be doing for the first time in a new place with no one I know within easy reach. I don’t know how I worked up the courage to apply to this program, but I’m glad I did. Going to a foreign country is a pretty win-win situation, you don’t have much to lose, and you have a world of experience to gain. And this kid, with his red bike and blue helmet, is finally starting to ride that bike by himself.