It wasn’t until I completely destroyed my designer-shoes on the ever so clean and well maintained sidewalks of the most beautiful town of Ghent that I thought about the grass. I thought that the badly paved footpaths in Capital had the sole right for destroying high heels? Is the grass really greener at the other side?
I constantly enrage the always stressed and in a hurry car drivers, as I always stop at a crossroad, waiting for them to pass, and every time, just at the moment that they come to a complete stop right in front of the crossroad, with that “What are you waiting for woman?!”-look, I realise that I should have just crossed the road without looking, and save the car the trouble of having to stop completely. Women!
Of course the backside of this is that I almost killed a couple of pedestrians when I am driving like crazy, trying to get to the store just before 18h (closing time) to get something to eat, to buy a (literally) last minute present for a friend that I am visiting that night, or to finish off the my shopping list of things I need in Argentina.
ChocolatesChocolatesChocolates (yep, I’m not only Belgian, am also a chocolate addict), sweaters made out of 100% wool (yes I need that as I am always cold and yes can buy that in Belgium in summer), books (in Dutch for a change), shoes (well I did loose one pair here), genuine rubber ‘botas de lluvia” that aren’t more expensive then their brothers made out of leather, etc…
It is difficult to adapt to Belgian timing. Lunch at 12. Dinner at 20 (kitchens usually close at 22), on top of that Belgians are so punctual! I do my utmost best to get everywhere in time. There is no such thing as distances in this country, but everywhere I go, whatever time of the day, I seem to get stuck in traffic. No piqueteros, but uncoordinated roadworks all over the country, rush hours that last all day, and too many, just too many cars. Exorbitant gasoline prices don’t make people drive less (1,67€/l yes, that is almost 10 pesos per liter!), on the contrary.
Even this great spring weather (well it’s still spring, but the weather is like Belgian summer) doesn’t make people get their bikes out (we’re Flemish, not Dutch). Even though everything is ‘close’, everything is still quite stretched. I live 5km from the closest bakery but these 5 km are full of houses. I miss the city, where you just go down and walk one block to get whatever you need. I miss hearing the lovely Argentine Spanish in the streets and above that, I’m feeling ugly. Nobody, just nobody in these streets says I look good. Is there something wrong with me??? Am I becoming too Argentinised… Considering piropos as a (nice) part of life?
But then, the grass really is greener here. For that, the Belgians must pay a big price. Lots and lots of grey days with lots of drizzle and rain. Only now, they are experiencing an exceptional spring with more hours of sun then they have ever had in this time of year. Almost 3 months of sun makes them complain on how the poor plants are suffering the drought. Not a minute they think that tomorrow it can start raining non stop until December and then they will be complaining about the lack of sun and the never-ending grey days.
And then the way they dress! The Argentines take out their boots and winter coats the first day the temperatures drop below 18, here they take out their summer dress shorts and sandals the first day the temperature goes above 18, even when at night it drops back to 10. I freeze to death just looking at them! Ever since the sun came put, weeks ago, winter clothes have been banned.
Meanwhile I am enjoying my time here, absorbing the many hours of sun and light (it gets dark after 22h) as possible, spending time with as many friends and family as possible, going from one party to another, eating as much food that I cant find in Argentina as possible. There are still a couple of things I must do here, but then I’ll be ready to get back to my home, my kids, my friends, and my beloved Buenos Aires…