A very un-Christmassy Christmas

Trip Start Oct 05, 2005
Trip End Apr 06, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Back in BA, refreshed after my beachy trip to Uruguay, I set about planning my Christmas and New Year. There was a good crowd at the hostel, which made things easier being so far from home, but it still wasn't the same. It was pushing 40'C most days and not a sniff of a carol. Grace had invited my over for Christmas eve, which is when the Argentinians celebrate, so I popped over after Mass for dinner and to watch all the children open their pressies from Papa NoŽl. It was such a lovely evening and something so different from what I would have experienced at home or in the hostel, which had put on a Christmas dinner for all the backpackers. I took Jenny, a Swiss student staying with Grace's daughter back to the hostel with me to continue partying on the roof till 5am.

Christmas day began late and felt wierd. I had missed breakfast and no shops were open to buy food - it was like a ghost town - so there was nothing for it but to crack open the bag of oats I'd been carrying for such an emergency and make some porridge. I sat on my own and felt very sorry for myself. Was about to give up on the day entirely and take myself back to bed to sleep the day off, when I was invited to lunch at a friend of a friend's house in San Telmo. I only intended to stay for an hour, just to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and pull a cracker, but when I got there, everyone was sat out in her courtyard on rugs, and there was enough food to feed an army. It became apparent that they all knew each other from AA meetings. Someone had brought a chocolate cake that unfortunately contained rum, and it sat neglected in the middle of the floor for most of the day. After lunch, the AA people slipped away and residents who shared the same apartment block started coming back from family engagements and joined us out in the courtyard, bringing more food and drink (of the alcoholic variety, thankfully).

At around 8pm, as I was upstairs freshening up, I heard a very, very bizarre sound. One of the Argentinians, who was an actor, had brought a set of bagpipes that he had made himself from parts shipped over from Galicia, and was belting out a rendition of Danny Boy in the courtyard. We all sat around mesmirised; it was so incongruous. Later, someone brought out a guitar and the Argentinians sat around singing old Spanish songs in harmony till the wee small hours. It was such a cool day, filled with so many interesting people, and was easily one of the best Christmases I've ever had.
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