Our program manager had told us at the beginning we would work hard, and we are, but we would also PLAY hard —– and we are… the Argentina way. That means lots of great food, learning to Tango, listening to Argentinian music (and American) and… riding horses at a ranch !!! Giddy up and yee haaa!
A part of immersing yourself into a culture, is seeing the cities and the capital. We toured the city of Buenos Aires seeing the Pink House, Plaza Congresso, Plaza Lavalle, Palermo, and the neighborhood of Boca to name just a few.
So what about the people of Buenos Aires ? What are they like? Well the first thing that struck me — is their greeting! Everyone is greeted with a “ cheek hug,” where you lean in, shake hands and touch cheeks. Sometimes even a kiss on the cheek. I have cheek hugged the mayor, the governor, countless city personnel, interpreters, business men and women, children in the Cava ( social housing) and my Argentina IBM colleagues. On a daily basis. There is something about a cheek hug, that genuinely says welcome to my home, my country. I’m from New York —where a cheek hug to someone you just met, could easily get you into some serious trouble.
But what really struck me, is after reading about all the turbulence Argentina has been through the past decades, financially and politically, and the tremendous strain they are still under to transform themselves back to the prosperity they once knew …. through it all …. and they have been through a lot, they have not forgotten their compassion for each other. You are reminded of it every day, in every greeting, to every person, no matter what class they are from . ” Allo … “cheek hug.” Commo es ta? ”
One thing I will always remember about Argentina is the warmth … not the climate, but the warmth they genuinely have for each other. I am going to try and spread that warmth back home and start my own ” cheek hug” movement, even if I have to blog about it from the police station, where I may have been arrested for unusual behavior for a New Yorker.