the unexpected

Is it just Argentina, or is it a general Latino kind of thing, the love for the unexpected?

Well maybe they don’t love it, but it is definitely a part of their daily life. And how different it is to the life I was used to, when all was well organised and agendas were full for the next weeks and even months. Where cancelations or last minute changes were rare, and above all, hated as hell. The two worlds seem so far apart that it is hard to imagine I was ever happy living in Belgium; the unexpected is one of my favourite aspects in Argentine life.

Years ago, I was one of the first smartphone users, not because I wanted to be in, or show off, but because I needed the personal assistant that this device is. Next to just the calling function I needed the agenda, the mails and contact details, just to be able to constantly keep up with the busy pace of life. I have an amazingly chaotic mind, and the smartphone was my saviour. Since I moved to Argentina, the agenda icon on my phone has moved to the last page. We don’t plan more then 1 week ahead. And my mind can go as far as that, without assistance.

On Monday morning, we hardly ever know for certain what the next weekend will bring, maybe we know vaguely, but everything depends on so many things.

The weather is one thing : if it rains, all outdoor activities are cancelled.  Sport events, asados, fairs, even concerts of world famous rock stars. (Unless mentioned on the ticket ‘the event will not be canceled if it rains’!). Quite an odd thing for Belgians to understand. If Belgians would stay in on every rainy day, there wouldn’t be any social life, nor would there be a functioning economy. But the weather is just one factor, and fortunately it doesn’t really rain all that often here.

It is generally the habit to plan things last minute. To wake up on your birthday and realize you actually feel like inviting all your friends over that same night is quite a common thing to do. Nobody will think he is just a stand in for someone who has just cancelled. But mostly you receive the call a few days ahead. Days. Not weeks, nor months. In fact the Argentines are quite offended if you invite them on an event in the far future. Don’t you want to see me before that???

I absolutely love that. This means that, if for some reason your weekend is cancelled last minute because of the rain, you will actually still find friends to go out with and you will not feel locked up with only yourself and your tv. If you feel more like going to a restaurant then going to a movie, its done.  If you rather stay in instead of going out, no harm is done either. It only has advantages.

It took us some time to get accustomed to it, although not too much. And now I only drive (some of) my Belgian friends crazy, but above all, my family. I come from a super organized family. As for me, it has become impossible to fill up my agenda more then one week ahead. When they visit me, they want to know what the agenda says. And my agenda is empty.

But maybe, they are –bit by bit- getting used to it, used to the new me?

In a way they are. But in a way they are definitely not. One of my most recent unexpected and last minute decisions was buying a flight to Belgium. I am going…in less then a week time. When I text my friends and family, their first question was “why??”. But, do I actually have to have a reason to go to Belgium? In fact it is just the unexpected part that startles them. Who decides, just 5 days ahead, to travel to the other side of the world, unless he has a really serious reason to do so? After a few whys I kept ahead of them and told them not to ask me why or I would explode!! But it didn’t help. The question needed and still needs to be answered.

-None of my Argentine friends asked me for the why, they think it is so obvious, in every way.-

But then on the other hand, the Belgians seem to know my aversion of agendas, and they text me, mail me, they contact me through FB, “Call me! I want to see you!” without setting an exact date. And that is what I am doing now, calling them, trying to meet as many friends and family as I can, spending morning, afternoon and night, with as many as I can. Filling up my agenda.

Most of them haven’t seen me in more then a year, and when that happens, people become amazingly flexible. They almost become, just almost,  like Argentines….

6 responses to “the unexpected”

  1. Very funny and true. I’m from Argentina. I’ve been living in the US for a few years now and I still can’t get used to this concept of having to plan so much ahead just to see my friends. Spontaneity is one of the best parts of the latin culture.

  2. Nice point of view.
    By the way: do you share the oh-so-argentine habit of queueing for just about everything?
    Es apasionante, jaja!

    • It does, doesn’t it? But it’s not just the birthdays : the whole weekend agenda is full, weeks and weeks ahead! So if you don’t go along, you have to celebrate your birthday alone 😮

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