Santa Wears Shorts
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I'm generally without festive spirits this holiday weekend, but that doesn't mean I don't see small gifts all around me on this eve before Christmas.
An interesting twist on Christmas and gifts down here in Argentina. The big day seems to be today, Christmas Eve.
In Argentina, Santa visits at the stroke of midnight throughout the country. Parents are given just a few minutes to scramble and toss presents under the artificial tree, while children run around looking for Santa (perhaps led about by another adult or an older sibling). Gifts are opened shortly thereafter.
Traditionally in the United States, the gift exchange and Santa surprises occur on Christmas morning. Santa comes while the children are sleeping—think about the song: …He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you're awake…—and eager young ones awake with anticipation, pull parents out of bed, and mayhem ensues.
It's around this time of year that I start to reflect on Christmas morning, and think When did I stop waking up for Christmas, and start having to be woken up? I'd saunter downstairs after a shower and enjoy a slightly calmer morning with the family than years past.
This scene hasn't happened in a while for me either, though. This is my third Christmas abroad. Thailand two years ago, Puerto Rico last year, and Argentina this year.
It's hard for me to get into the holiday spirit down here—not that I really embraced it the way many others did around me back home. When living on my own (or with my university buddy Tristan or my brother) I generally kept a season free living environment. And with the temperature the way it is here (hot and rather humid), it's easy to let this weekend slip by like any other.
Living in Arizona for a few years may have helped calmed the notion that Christmas and cold weather belong together, but over two decades of conditioning and expectations are hard to let go of. Any Aussie will tell you that the words Christmas and barbecue belong in a sentence together.
Crazy southern hemisphere…
If you're done tracking Santa with the help of NORAD (employees take a break this time of year from watching for incoming North Korean nukes to monitor the jolly fat man instead), might I suggest a few distractions:
- Sober Santa—Keep Santa buzzed and off the tracks (looks exactly like my hostel, minus the train tracks)
- flOw—Mellow game made by a grad student that Sony is picking up
- Finger Frenzy—How fast can you type the alphabet (my best is a slow 6.469 seconds)
- Cursor Thief—Watch this little fellow piss you off with his antics
- Pingu Throw—Have the Yeti hit innocent penguins with a bat
- MotherLoad—Don't even start this game; pure crack
Or if you'd rather spend your time outside (being a naughty boy), here's the 3,129 character code you need to enter into a car's keyless entry pad in order to guess the 5-digit passcode. It'll take you 20 minutes or less to enter it.
Or I suppose you could put this hilarious (and crude) video on repeat.
This is just too wild to believe. I'm at the supermarket this afternoon with my buddy Zach from Panama, when out of the blue an Italian named Laura taps me on the shoulder. I'm stunned—it's Laura (of Luca and Laura), the pair of Italians that sailed with me aboard the Odessa in the Caribbean almost a year ago!
The two had sailed for two or three more months after I left them (most of the time on some luxurious catamaran) before getting off on the Venezuelan island of Margarita. They've been in Venezuela and Brazil since, and have picked up an apartment in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires for a month.
I asked the two of them why they were at my market (well away from their apartment), to which they replied my store had great Italian pasta and olive oil (etc). I can't believe she recognized me with hair (it was shaved for the first half of the year).
I'm going to take the two up on an offer to have Christmas dinner at their place tomorrow, and catch up. Amazing.
Not So Bad
So instead of Christmas Eve with the family, I'm typing this in my (slightly private) loft bedroom in a hostel, casually watching my female roommates and nibbling on a tasty seasonal cake given to me from a nice girl at the Oracle office. Right now the Swedish girl is giving a Greek girl an oil massage. Honestly, life could be a lot worse.
Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays, all!