The other day I was walking home from school with a classmate, who is half Belgian. That is quite something (having a half Belgian classmate, I mean), as –apart from me and maybe 1 or 2 Brazilians- there is no one in the school who is not native Spanish speaking (and actually, she is too), and she is also the only Belgian (either full or half) that I know here in Argentina. That probably comes as a surprise, as many people assume we are living on an island full of other Belgians in the middle of Buenos Aires. Although there are at least a couple of hundreds living here, I don’t know any. The ones I know all live overseas. This one has a Flemish dad, and she is supposed to be fluent in Flemish as she studied there for about 10 years, although apart from translating a word for me once in a while, I never heard her say a full sentence. Yes we speak Spanish.
So we were walking home, and she makes a remark on the beautiful autumn weather, when all of a sudden, -ending her sentence in a quick way- she said that the weather is probably one of the reasons she is really glad she is not living in Belgium anymore. But before I could even agree with her, she explained why. In Belgium everyone always talks about the weather. It is too cold, it is too hot, it is too wet, it is too dry. It is never ever just ‘good’. And if there is just one ray of sunshine, whatever the season might be, everyone goes out to ‘do a terrace’. This is actually a verb in Flemish. ‘to do a terrace’ (terrasje doen), meaning to go outside for a drink somewhere outside on a terrace. She didn’t hate the weather, she hates the way ‘the weather’ is a topic of conversation, which she thinks it shouldn’t be!
I thought that was an interesting point of view. I never looked at it that way. She is right. Belgians are always talking about the weather, and I am obviously a Belgian too, although when it comes to this topic, I desperately try not to be (probably without success).
So I came home and told my family about my friend’s point of view, and guess what? They didn’t agree! They said that the weather is a lovely topic. It can end dead moments in a conversation, it is an easy way to start one, it is perfect if you are forced to talk to someone you are absolutely not interested in, and it is fun!
At least it is here, where the weather is always good. But I keep on getting desperate cries from Belgium during these last weeks of exceptional grey, rainy and cold weather. I never ask them, but they inform me anyway. And many of them always ask me about the weather here, as if they want to be tortured. Yes, the weather is nice. As always. Although I never add the last, they probably know it already. –BTW if it makes you feel good, we have been having rain for a few days now, and it doesn’t seem to be improving soon-.
But now –in Belgium- the sun has come out. I received message of 5 friends, all in the span of one hour, saying they were…sitting outside in the sun. The streets must be empty. The shops too. The world stops. In Belgium the sun is shining, and you know what? It is supposed to shine for another FOUR DAYS!