Sunday, April 4, 2010

On Argentine plantitas

I haven't mentioned yet how this trip reminds me so much of home in a lot of ways. In coming to Argentina, something has happened which I never expected to in the way it has... Of course I knew I would recognize things in the culture from home, from my Nona's house and the rest of my dad's side of the family. But the phenomenon is totally manifesting in things I would never have guessed it to. Example: Everywhere I look, the plantitas on the street and in parks are ones I recognize almost exclusively from my Nona's backyard in Pasadena, as well as in my Tio Alberto's (her younger brother's) front garden in Córdoba: geraniums, hoya blossoms, spider plants, particular ivys, crown of thorns, everything is the same. It's like when my Nona transplanted to California she recreated Argentine landscape in her own backyard.

Not to mention everyone has a frikkin crazy green thumb out here... every high rise apartment balcony has some kind of greenery on it, and looking up at Buenos Aires from the streets you would never know it was a tall place for all the tree-lined avenues. It's only when looking out on the city from the 19th floor of your university tower that you notice the height and amount of gray man-made all around and above you. Large patches of super low greenery mark the spots from which street-level masses do not notice the concrete rising in canyons all about them in the way New York City displays.

Interesting. So Nona's ridiculous green thumb springs from her culture and perhaps not her personal being. Maybe that's why it's not hereditary, and I have to stick to succulents if any green thing in my house is to survive.

Another observation: I always wondered why some people on my dad's side of the family took so many showers. Like, 2 and 3 times a day, my cousins are in the shower when they wake up, after they hit the gym, and again before they come over for dinner. Well that question was answered almost immediately when I arrived in sticky, hot, humid Buenos Aires. Seriously, if I didn't shower three times a day in this kind of weather and grime from living in the city, I would just want to kill myself. There have been times when I've waited in line at the doctor's, toured around with friends, or lounged at the RoadHouse just wishing I could take a scraper and slough off my own skin. Ugh then thought about having to ride the subte full of other grimy miserable people in order to reach an appropriate showering location. Mmmmmarinating in sweat. And I wanted to barf. So I now understand where the extreme showering cultural trait comes from.

Also: "Why is there rice in Nona's salt shakers?" three-year-old Ginita brain used to ask itself. Here in Argentina there are many variations of this trick, I've even seen coffee beans in salt shakers at some restaurants. It's so the salt doesn't congeal from the constant moisture in the air. Genius.

As I think of more I'll let you know, but these are interesting lil' factitos, no?

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