This is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project, a daily blogging challenge with a prompt for every day in November 2011. Check out the prompt at the bottom of this post to find out how you can participate!
One of the most difficult part of RTW travel is being away from family and friends. When the holidays come around, it makes it even tougher. Spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve away from loved ones, even though we were on the trip of a lifetime, was extremely hard.
Even through all our travels, we’ve only spent one Christmas and New Year’s away from our family and friends. And luckily for us, we had a friend of a friend that one time we were away. We spent a month in Buenos Aires in December and January and had a little apartment. It was like home for us after living out of our backpacks for months. We were missing one thing from our home, though: friends and family.
Enter Maru. A resident of Buenos Aires, Maru studied in my hometown of St. Louis when we were in high school. She stayed with a good friend of ours during her time in our city, and they kept in touch in the 15 years since. Fortunately for us, we were introduced to Maru on our second day in the city. She took us to lunch, we drank wine, she showed us around, we drank more wine, and we ended up hanging out with her for the rest of the day, including an extremely late night dinner at midnight followed by more wine.
We had a great time being showed around by a local, and we felt pretty fortunate to have made a connection in the city. We had no idea how lucky we were. A few days later, we received an email from Maru. She made it clear that we did not have to accept her invitation, but her mom insisted that she invite us to her family’s house for New Year’s Eve, a traditionally family oriented holiday in Argentina. She was horrified at the thought of us spending New Year’s Eve alone. We jumped at the chance to spend some time with a local family on a holiday, and while we were excited about the possibility, we had no idea how much it would impact our holiday season and our trip as a whole.
One of the coolest things about spending time in another country during the holidays is seeing the differences and similarities between cultures. New Year’s Eve was certainly different in Argentina than in the States, with focus on family. Most families get together for dinner (a late one-usually around 10 or 11), then the fireworks show begins. Because it’s summer during the Christmas season in the southern hemisphere, the holiday season turns into a cross between Christmas, New Year’s, and the Fourth of July. People have massive barbecues (asados), and everyone shoots off fireworks at midnight. And by everyone, I mean everyone! Eventually the party winds down and the younger generation heads out to the bars and clubs around 2am.
While the differences were interesting to note, it was the similarities that made this night most memorable. Even though we were with an Argentine family, where only a few spoke any English at all, and everything about the night screamed different – fireworks, spending NYE with family, barbecues when we were used to winter – there was so much that felt right.
There was the huge meal with food to feed an army. There was the mother of the family pushing more and more food onto our plates, making sure there was no possible way we were leaving without being stuffed. There was the slightly wacky uncle, making odd and hilarious comments throughout the night. There was everyone else, making fun of and kidding around with said crazy uncle. There was copious amounts of alcohol. And then there was the love, the familiarity, and the closeness one feels when with family.
Even though it wasn’t our family, our home, our country, or even the right season and weather, we felt at home. That family we missed so much was replaced that night by a different family. Our Buenos Aires family. And that night meant more to us than that family will ever imagine.
On New Year’s Eve’s from here on out, I will always think about that night. The night we were missing our own families so bad. The night we were welcomed into the home of another family, one who didn’t know us and never met us, and were treated like their own.
30 Days of Indie Travel Project: How to Participate
We’re inviting bloggers from around the world (that means you, too!) to join us in a daily blogging effort designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.
We’ll share some of our favorites via Twitter and Facebook throughout November, as well as a round-up article at the end of the month, so if you’re playing along make sure to let us know – use the #indie30 hashtag on Twitter, and link to the 30 Days of Indie Travel page in your post so we’ll be able to find it.
Find out all of the 30 Days of Indie Travel blogging prompts so far – it’s never too late to join in the fun!
Prompt #7: CELEBRATE
Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.
Tools and inspiration: Read about some of the world’s messiest festivals